Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nigerian Electoral Act Sets Timetable for Vote

Nigeria's new electoral act sets out a timetable for local, state, and federal elections. But leaves unanswered the biggest question surrounding this vote: will President Goodluck Jonathan run for re-election?

Nigeria's new electoral act staggers next year's vote with elections for the Senate and House of Representatives first, followed by the presidential election, and then voting for state governors.

It is part of a series of constitutional amendments signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan, who says the fundamental changes will improve the conduct of Nigerian elections.
"It is proof that this system can muster the capacity to correct itself while the nation moves on to a higher level of political development," Mr. Jonathan said.

The Independent National Electoral Commission must publish the date of the election at least 90 days in advance, which means officials must give notice by the end of next month if voting is to begin in early January as expected. The new rules also give the electoral commission more time to finalize voter lists. Those registries may be revised up to 60 days before the vote, instead of the 120 days during the last election.

President Jonathan says that will help ensure maximum participation in the vote.

"Unless the right of our people to decide who governs them is enforced and protected, politicians and government officials will not be persuaded to act at all times for the common good of all," he added.

Political parties must submit their list of candidates within 60 days of the vote. That means President Jonathan must declare his candidacy by the end of October for an election in January. But the president has not yet said whether he will run for his own mandate after coming to power this year after the death of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.

Presidential advisors warn not to read too much into that delay, saying the president has not said that he is not running. Either way, President Jonathan says the impartiality of the process must be ensured.

"Since coming into office, I have emphasized that this administration will do all that is needed to guarantee free, fair, and credible elections in 2011 and beyond," Mr. Jonathan said. "I have said time and again that I will not consider my personal interest or the benefit of my own political party in doing that which will secure credible elections for our people."

President Jonathan's administration says it will not interfere with the electoral commission's work.

The Independent National Electoral Commission originally told the Finance Ministry it needed about $475 million to conduct the vote. But when that total rose, Finance Minister Olusgeun Aganga says he put the higher request before lawmakers so that any decision about spending is not seen to be politically-motivated.

"Because if anything went wrong, government would be blamed for not supporting INEC," Aganga said. "We do not want that blame. We want to make sure that the president has set the direction. The president has made it absolutely clear that he wants a free and fair election. The minimum we can do as a government is to make sure we provide our support to them entirely."

Lawmakers ultimately decided to give the Independent National Electoral Commission about $570 million. If that decision had been made by the finance ministry, Aganga told reporters the media would have portrayed that as President Jonathan interfering in a process that may include him as a candidate.

Monday, August 23, 2010



Dr.   Afari- Gyan, chairman of Ghana Electoral Commission, has enumerated efforts being taken by electoral administrators in the continent to help deal with common challenges facing the electoral process in many countries.  In a keynote address at a just ended Africa Media and Democracy Conference (AMDMC) held in Accra, the electoral commissioner said, "practically everywhere in Africa, electoral commissions face challenges in trying to achieve credible elections." He however noted that some steps had been taken, particularly in Ghana, towards ensuring transparent and credible elections, which were yielding fruits.

"Increasingly, African election administrators are introducing built-in checks and safeguards, rigorous audit trails, tracking, particularly of sensitive election materials, and opportunities for stakeholder scrutiny of electoral activities as elements of system integrity", Dr.   Afari-Gyan said.

He mentioned measures such as exhibition of the provisional voter register, which, he said, "offers the electoral commission an opportunity to fine tune the register towards making it inclusive, up to date, and accurate in the personal data." This, according Dr.   Afari- Gyan, makes way for public scrutiny of the register- to ensure that the right people are those whose data have been entered, and that no eligible voter is denied his or her right to register.

 He pointed out that electoral commissions must continue the search for greater transparency, accountability, and verifiability in the conduct of elections; so that we are more easily able to ascertain the authenticity of the output of the electoral system, should disputes arise.  The second aspect of transparency, he indicated, "has to do with the manner in which election commissioners and elections officers conduct their business.  In this connection, transparency means openness across the board, without discrimination as to party, candidate, or other stakeholders."

Among other factors the electoral commissioner considered key in the quest to conducting credible and transparent elections in Africa, so as to pave way for consolidated democracies in Africa , are;  good relationships between political parties and electoral commissions, sufficient funding and prompt release of fund, sound legal framework, dispute resolution and enforcement of electoral laws.

 He reiterated the need for election officials to be firm and applying the electoral laws, rules and regulations in such a uniform manner that nobody received preferential treatment, adding that this in itself will not be enough for purposes of achieving free and fair elections. It must be complimented with democratic electoral behavior on the part of stakeholders.

In his address, the director of AMDMC, Barima Adu-Asamoa, said the interface between the media and democratic process must be critically examined for the realization of sustainable good governance in a democratic dispensation in Africa. "All stakeholders involved in the democratization process have a responsibility to perform diligently and uphold democratic values for the good of the citizenry", he stated, adding that whilst Africa had undergone traumatic experiences over the years on all indexes of human development, she was still expected to demonstrate her ability to uphold democratic values. 

He outlined the foundation's objectives as to; constructively promote and ensure positive influence on the role of the media in the practice of democratic governance in Africa, to facilitate a stronger relation between the academia, media practitioners and governance, and to foster the development of a culture of democracy and promote the rule of law. The organisation carries out its key activities through projects, which include; the AMDMC Conference, AMDMC Publication, AMDMC Chair Award and an AMDMC (The Africa Media & Democracy Journal) to be published later this year.  

Prominent among other speakers at the three-day event which was attended by delegates from different African countries and other parts of the world included the Commissioner, Interim Independent Electoral Commission of Kenya, Madam Winnie Guchu, Mr. Bobby Livingstone, Director- Public Information of Liberia National Elections Commission, the Professor Barfour Adjei-Barwuah, former ambassador to Japan, Yang Jioa, University of Florida- USA, Dr. Gareth Stanton, Goldsmith University of London, and Prof. Dr. Dr. Daniel Buor, Vice Chancellor of Valleyview  University.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Guinée : La date du second tour a été fixée pour le 19 septembre

Le domicile du président par intérim, situé dans la presqu'ile du Kaloum a servi de cadre ce lundi ç une rencontre entre Sékouba  Konaté et les acteurs de la transition guinéenne. Cette rencontre qui a regroupé outre le premier ministre Jean marie Doré autour du président par intérim et qui comprenait également les responsables  de la CENI, du CNT, du conseil économique

 Et social avait pour objectif de trouver une date consensuelle pour la tenue du second tour de la présidentielle. Et après discussions entre acteurs, la date du 19 septembre a été finalement retenue comme date de la tenue du second tour de la présidentielle du 27 juin. C'est certainement à cette date ou tout au plus à la fin  du  mois de septembre prochain que les guinéens connaitront le nom de leur président.


.African Elections Project/ Almamy  Kalla Conté

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ivory Coast long-delayed election now set for October 2010

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Ivory Coast will finally hold long overdue presidential elections on Oct. 31, the prime minister announced Thursday, bringing hope that an eight-year political crisis that divided the country in two may be coming to an end.

Prime Minister Guillaume Soro made the announcement following a Cabinet meeting in the political capital of Yamoussoukro on the eve of the country's 50th anniversary of independence celebrations.

"We are committed to leading Ivorians to these elections, to organizing peaceful elections so that we can end this crisis which has — quite obviously — lasted too long," Soro said.

The ongoing political crisis has put a damper on celebrations slated for Saturday, and President Laurent Gbagbo said in March that they would be canceled altogether if a date hadn't been set.

Since a failed coup in 2002, the country has been divided between a rebel-controlled north and a government-controlled south. The ongoing civil war meant that presidential elections originally slated for 2005 were canceled and Gbagbo stayed in power. But peace accords signed in 2007 brought rebels into a power-sharing government with Gbagbo's allies and called for elections within a year.

However, disagreements over voter registration brought the peace process to a standstill and several elections dates came and went without any sign that progress toward a lasting peace was being made.

Soro acknowledged that skeptics would say that this new Oct. 31 date would simply be ignored like the previous ones, but said that he was optimistic that this time, elections would be held.

"We have all but finalized the voter list. You know that the voter list is the backbone of this election. If you don't have a good quality definitive voter list, then you cannot have good quality elections," he said.

Fears that the peace process had come unhinged erupted in February, when Gbagbo unilaterally dissolved the government and the electoral commission, amid allegations that hundreds of thousands of foreigners had been included on voter rolls. This led to three weeks of violent opposition demonstrations that left at least five people dead.

The new provisional voter list was published on July 12 and a public appeal process began on Monday.



Thursday, August 5, 2010

TIMELINE-Rwanda heads to August elections

Aug 5 (Reuters) - Rwanda heads to the polls on Aug. 9 for the second time since the 1994 genocide. Here is a timeline of events in Rwanda since then.

April 6, 1994 - Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira killed in a rocket attack on their plane. Habyarimana's death triggers 100-day orgy of violence, perpetrated mainly by Hutus against Tutsis and moderate Hutus. About 800,000 people are killed. The Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) starts new offensive.

April 7, 1994 - Presidential guards kill moderate Hutu Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiwimana, who had tried to calm tensions.

July 1994 - RPF seizes control of Rwanda after driving 40,000-strong Hutu army and 2 million civilian Hutus into exile in Burundi, Tanzania and Zaire (later Democratic Republic of Congo).

August 1996 - Rwandan troops, disguised as Zairean rebels, launch invasion of Zaire. Thousands of civilians are killed while hundreds of thousands of Hutu refugees return to Rwanda.

Dec 27, 1996 - Rwanda's first genocide trial opens under the the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

June 1997 - Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame admits his troops invaded Zaire and helped install Laurent Kabila as new president there.

August 1998 - Rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda take up arms against Congolese President Laurent Kabila.

March 23, 2000 - Hutu President Pasteur Bizimungu resigns after falling out with his Tutsi-dominated ruling party.

April 17, 2000 - Vice-President Kagame is elected president by members of parliament and ministers.

July 30, 2002 - The presidents of Rwanda and the DRC sign a peace pact aimed at ending years of atrocities.

Aug 25, 2003 - Rwanda holds its first elections since the 1994 massacres. Kagame wins. The opposition rejects the result.

Nov 20, 2004 - Leaders from 11 Great Lakes countries, including Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC, sign the Dar es Salaam Declaration, pledging to end the genocide and hunger that have killed 3 million over the previous 10 years.

Jan 14, 2005 - Rwanda says 1 million of its citizens -- an eighth of the population -- are expected to face charges in traditional or "gacaca" village courts. The hearings begin three days later.

Nov. 24, 2006 - Rwanda breaks off diplomatic ties with France in protest at a French judge's call for Kagame to stand trial over the killing of Habyarimana.

Jan. 23, 2009 - Rwanda arrests Tutsi Congolese warlord Laurent Nkunda. The UN had accused elements of Kagame's regime of backing his 5-year rebellion. His detention is seen as part of a peace deal between the arch foes.

Nov. 29, 2009 - The Commonwealth admits French-speaking Rwanda as its 54th member.

-- On the same day, France and Rwanda agree to restore diplomatic relations.

Feb. 25, 2010 - President Nicolas Sarkozy says France made serious errors of judgment over the 1994 genocide.

June 19, 2010 - Ex-army chief of staff Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa is shot and wounded in South Africa, where he fled after falling out with Kagame.

June 25, 2010 - Critical journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage is shot dead after publishing a story linking Rwanda security services to dissident general Nyamwasa's shooting. The government firmly denies responsibility.

July 13, 2010 - Police say they have arrested Saidati Mukakibibi, an unregistered journalist who works for independent newspaper Umurabyo, for comparing Kagame with Hitler.

July 14, 2010 - The Democratic Green Party's vice president, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, reported missing since July 13, is found dead. His truck was found close to the southern city of Butare.

July 16, 2010 - Victoire Ingabire, head of the unregistered United Democratic Forces party, facing charges of spreading ethnic hatred and funding Rwandan rebels in DR Congo, calls for a boycott of the August elections as she and some would-be candidates have been barred from standing.

July 20, 2010 - Kagame says it is not his responsibility to create a strong opposition, as he launches his re-election campaign at a rally in the national stadium.

Aug. 9, 2010 - Presidential elections


AU team arrives in Rwanda for polls

A group of election observers representing the African Union (AU) has been dispatched to Rwanda to oversee the process leading up to next week's presidential elections.

According to a statement issued on Thursday by the AU, the mission in Kigali is being led by Anil Gayan, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mauritius.

It will include Pan-African parliamentarians and top officials of election management bodies. The team of 20 members and three coordinators will be in Rwanda until August 14 when the results are expected to have been collated and provisionally announced.

"The principal task of the Observer Mission is to make an independent and impartial observation of the Rwanda electoral process in conformity with AU guidelines on election observation and monitoring and guided by the AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa," said the statement.

The AU observers are to be deployed to all the country's five provinces. The AU observer team joins another from the Commonwealth, which arrived early this week.

The latter team consists of 13 eminent persons among them diplomats, heads of electoral commissions, lawyers and media experts from Commonwealth member states.

Meanwhile, South Africa has recalled its ambassador to Kigali following a diplomatic row over the shooting of an exiled Rwandan army general in Johannesburg, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

"We have recalled our ambassador to Rwanda for consultations. Let me be categorical. We have not broken diplomatic relations with Rwanda," foreign ministry director general Ayanda Ntsaluba told a news conference.

The move is traditionally the strongest indication of official disapproval short of severing diplomatic relations.


http://www.nation.co.ke/News/africa/AU team arrives in Rwanda for polls /-/1066/971666/-/3a0kvz/-/

New constitution for Kenya as 'No' team concedes


NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya's president heralded the passage of a new constitution Thursday as a "national renewal," after results showed that close to 70 percent of the country had backed the document replacing a British colonial-era draft that inflated the powers of the presidency.

Opponents of the new constitution conceded defeat gracefully, paving the way for a peaceful transition to the new draft document. Ethnically charged violence had left more than 1,000 people dead following the disputed 2007 presidential election, raising concerns about the aftermath of Wednesday's vote.

"The historic journey that we began over 20 years ago is now coming to a happy end," President Mwai Kibaki told hundreds of supporters in downtown Nairobi, some of whom blew the loud vuvuzela horn made famous during the recent World Cup. "Indeed, may the new constitutional dispensation be our shield and defender."

Kenya's election commission said 67 percent of the 8.6 million voters who cast ballots backed the new constitution, an overwhelming victory that likely helped quash any potential for violence. Voter turnout was 71 percent, the reason that long lines snaked for hours at ballot boxes around the country.

Opponents of the draft had expressed misgivings early Thursday about the results, but William Ruto, Kenya's higher education minister and a top leader of the "No" team, conceded defeat.

"As member of the 'No' team, we respect the verdict of the majority," Ruto said. He then urged the "Yes" side to engage in negotiations over the parts of the constitution the "No" side objected to, items likely to include the constitution's clauses on abortion and land ownership.

Kibaki reached out to the "No" camp in his speech, saying that the "No" voters' voices had been heard. Others in the "Yes" camp took a more celebratory tone.

"Saying that we have won is an understatement. Kenya has been reborn," said Kiraitu Murungi, the minister of energy. "In fact it has been 20 years of painful labor. There is neither winner nor loser, we are all Kenyans, let us embrace each other as we usher the country into a new chapter."

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Kenya's new constitution was the centerpiece of the country's reform agenda aimed at addressing underlying causes of violence.

The results are "an indication that a very strong majority of Kenyans have voted for fundamental change," Clinton said. "We urge all Kenyans to reach out to each other to work together after this referendum to support Kenya's democratic institutions and to move Kenya forward into the kind of future that Kenyans themselves deserve."

Voters overwhelmed polling stations in some locations Wednesday. The international community, and particularly the U.S., had urged Kenyans to pass the constitution, even as the draft raised emotions over land rights, abortion and Muslim family courts.

Kenya's current constitution, drawn up in the lead-up to Kenya's 1963 independence from Britain, grants the president sweeping powers. The new constitution would dramatically cut back on those powers by setting up an American-style system of checks and balances, and paving the way for much-needed land reform.

In the Rift Valley — the scene of some of the worst atrocities in 2007-08 — Bishop Cornelius Korir said the church would continue to press the government as it implements the new constitution to take into account the church's view on abortion.

"We are very proud of the people of the North Rift for maintaining peace, and we want peace to continue," Korir said.

A coalition of evangelical churches said in a statement that it was saddened by irregularities in the campaign, balloting and counting phases of the election process, but the Catholic church and the Anglican church did not sign the statement.

An observer group said it had not seen any signs of rigging as had been claimed by some in the "No" camp.

"We are confident that the process and the results reflect the wishes of Kenyans," said Kennedy Masime, chairman of the Elections Observation Group, which had 10,000 observers across the country.

The passing of the new constitution is a major victory for Kibaki, who backed a constitutional referendum in 2005 that was defeated. The push for a new constitution began two decades ago.

The referendum was one of the conditions of the power-sharing agreement between Kibaki and Prime Minster Raila Odinga that ended the 2007-08 violence. Both back the new constitution, and both appealed to Kenyans to vote peacefully.

Kenyan presidents have long favored their own ethnic tribes in the distribution of resources, a tremendous source of tension here.



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

IIEC gets thumbs up for Kenya vote

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 4 - A local observer group has given a thumbs up to the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) for what they called a well organised referendum exercise.

The Elections Observation Group (ELOG) said 98 percent of all polling stations across the country opened on time, while a similar number had agents who properly followed procedures needed to facilitate voting.

ELOG Chairman Kennedy Masime told a press briefing that the smooth organisation coupled with the enthusiasm that Kenyans had shown towards this exercise, might just make it the most successful voting process ever.

"Overall, ELOG would like to commend the IIEC for smooth management of the process so far and extol it to sustain the diligence through the completion of the task," he said.

According to the watch dog body, 96 percent of polling stations had the requisite strategic materials such as ballot boxes, ballot papers, voter registers, IIEC stamps, embossers and indelible ink as well as the results forms 6.

Additionally, in all stations that they sampled, ballot boxes were shown to be empty before they were sealed. However, only about 69 percent of these polling posts had referendum agents from both the 'Yes' and 'No' sides.

"Only, seven percent of polling stations had neither a 'Yes' nor a 'No' referendum agent," Mr Masime said.

The poll watcher also admitted that there was a hitch in the morning where some observers were initially denied access to polling stations as they lacked commissioned oaths of secrecy. Some of the 10,000 officers on the ground were also said to have had their phones confiscated.

Although the IIEC exempted accredited observers and media personnel from swearing this oath on Friday, ELOG said this had not been properly communicated to the commission's agents on the ground.

"This problem was not unique to us but also affected other observers who were going to polling stations where this information had not reached. The information was only available in Nairobi but conveying that to the lowest level was a challenge," explained Steering Committee member Peter Aling'o.

However, communication between the overseers and the IIEC saw the problem swiftly rectified. The group however urged the commission to enhance communication between the headquarters and the officers on the ground to ensure that such hitches are avoided.

ELOG also commended Kenyans for their peaceful conduct in exercising their democratic right and urged them to remain calm until the entire process is completed and results are announced.