Thursday, October 31, 2013

Madagascar: Robinson ahead of provisional results threatened with disqualification

The poster of the candidate Jean-Louis Robinson with his side's campaign the couple Ravalomanana could be subjected to a complaint on the part of some candidates in the presidential election who wish to apply following the disqualification of Jean-Louis Robinson, as indicated by and sites.  Discussions would be underway between the various protest parties to lead the initiative.
A meeting of the various parliamentary groups represented in the Congress of the Transition should also be held soon to finalise the request for disqualification of the Jean-Louis Robinson candidate backed by the Ravalomanana movement and is very much at the top of the first provisional results of the 1st round of the Malagasy presidential election, with nearly 31% of the votes cast. However, this meeting was not unanimous, as several political signatories of the Roadmap have rejected outright the possibility to join an application for disqualification of Jean-Louis Robinson.

Source: Indian Ocean Times

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Madagascar awaits presidential election results

The people of Madagascar are waiting for the outcome of Saturday's election. They hope the new leadership will lift their country out of political chaos and rescue it from economic ruin. It is a long list. Thirty three candidates competed in Friday's presidential elections in Madagascar, far more than the last election in 2006. Parties are playing a subordinate role. "You'll look for familiar candidates' names in vain," said Jean Herve Rakotozanany, a radio journalist who has been covering Madagascan politics for the last 15 years. Some of the candidates' names were completely unknown to him
 Initially it had seemed that well-known heavyweights such as Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina would be contesting this election. Ravalomanana was president until the beginning of 2009. He was then ousted by Rajoelina and fled into exile.
Withdrew from the race

In the meantime Madagascar has been without an elected government, the economy is in ruins and grinding poverty is spreading. The presidential elections have been postponed several times. One reason was a row over who would be permitted to compete. Both rivals, Ravalomanana and Rajoelina, had promised not to run for the post. But then Ravalomanana's wife entered the race and Rajoelina also decided to take part after all. Both Ravalomanana and Rajoelina had failed to abide by electoral regulations according to the African Union (AU) and the southern African regional body SADC who were acting as mediators. Bowing to pressure, the two candidates withdrew from the race. This left many Madagascans frustrated. They felt they had been robbed of their candidates and their right to vote. "Some say it is not the Madagascans who are running this election, but the international community which is pursuing its own interests," said Rakotozanany. He personally does not believe that intervention by mediators will endanger Madagascan democracy." After all, we Madagascans will be electing our president, " he said.
Surprise in store

The country's veteran politicians have not vacated the field. In a message from his place of exile in South Africa, Marc Ravalomanana called on his supporters to vote for his former health minister Jean Louis Robinson. Andry Rajoelina, in his capacity as interim president, is obliged to stay neutral, but it is no secret that he is backing his former finance minister Hery Rajaonarimampianina. Membership of a political party appears to be of minor significance and by no means have all of the candidates belonged to one of Madagascar's 170 parties. There are no reliable opinion polls, but it seems certain that there will have to be a run-off vote in December. Nobody knows who will make it to the second round, according to Sahondra Rabenarivo, lawyer and rights activist in Madagascar. "There's a surprise in store," she told DW. "Of course, those who are in public view are tipped as the hopefuls. But what you don't see is the campaign machinery behind the other candidates who are operating a little more discreetly. They have people on the ground who can go around canvassing for votes."
One such candidate is Saraha Georget Rabeharisoa. She is the chair of the Madagascan Greens Party and one of just two women candidates on the list. Many observers believe she could put the country back on its feet. Others doubt whether a society as patriarchal as Madagascar is ready for a woman at the top. But the Greens politician responds to such criticism by saying that those who argue women have no chance are generally politicians and male ones at that. "They know that I'm the one who can spring that surprise," she added.
Criticism of how election was organized

For the first time in a Madagascan election, the names of the candidates are printed on one single ballot, not on separate ones as in the past. The idea is to stop ballot rigging, but there has been criticism nonetheless. Some say the new system should have been better explained and prepared beforehand. There have also been problems with voting cards. Anyone who wanted to vote has to produce one of these cards at the polling station. But just days before the elections many Madagascans hadn't received their documentation so the Electoral Commission ruled that identity cards could be used as a substitute.
Rabenarivo said the voting cards should have been sent out earlier. That would have reassured people, she said There is a lot of uncertainty in the air. Will the elections be free and fair? That's the big question," she said after a moment's thought. But what is most important is that those who lose this election accept the result. Otherwise, there will be serious trouble between the first and second rounds.
The start of a new era?

The run-off has been penciled in for December 20 and therein lies the next problem. Its right in the middle of the rainy season when the roads are impassable and the polling stations could be inaccessible for many people. It's hardly ideal, but elections have to be held this year so the crisis can be brought to an end," said Helmut Burmeister, who heads the Madagascan office of the German development organization GIZ. He has witnessed the country's decline since the coup four years ago. There is a huge array of political problems here. It's important that the new leadership makes clear that it is ushering in a new era.

Source: Deutsche Welle 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Malawi Elections: MEC phase 6 Voter Registration winds up

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has announced that phase six of voter registration will officially come to an end at 4 PM on Monday, October 28, 2013. However, registration in some centres will prolong for some days depending on how many days later registration started due to some reasons.
According to a Press Release signed by MEC Chief Elections Officer, Willie Kalonga, voter registration is supposed to last for 14 days and some centres which commenced later than 14 October, the official day for commencement of phase six, will have to mitigate their days.

Registration centers that failed to open on the first day of Registration, 14 October, 2013 or any other day during the registration period will have an extension equivalent to the period when they were non-operational,” reads the release in part. Through the release MEC has further urged those who have not yet registered in the centers covered in phase six to show up before closing time, Monday, saying if overcrowding occurs on this day and some fail to register, only those who will show up on this day will be considered for priority registration on Tuesday.  According to the statement, in Chitipa East constituency, Kapyela, Chibanda, Mwandambo and Nakabuchi centres will operate until Tuesday 29 October, except for Nyungu, which will operate till October 30.

In Chitipa North and Central, the respective centres of Kapere and Mbula will also end their operations on 29 October while Kawembe in Chitipa South will close on 30 October. In Dowa South-East, North and Centre, respective centres of Tsache, Chimbuli and Kabulungo Schools will open until 29 October whereas Chimpenintula and Bweya Schools in Dowa Ngala will remain operational for a day longer.
Meanwhile the seventh phase of voter registration will run from November 1 to 14, 2013. This phase will cover Lilongwe, Likoma and Nkhata Bay district councils. Registration in the seventh phase will also take place in Mzimba South-East constituency and Mchinji North, East, West and Northeast constituencies.

Source: The Maravi Post

Botswana Elections: IEC misses registration target

Three weeks into the registration period and with just a week left before closing, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has registered only 293,101, a paltry 20 percent of their 1, 4 million target. “The numbers are far below our target for the general elections but with the registration process coming to a close we hope Batswana will be encouraged to register in big numbers,” says IEC’s Principal Public Relations Officer, Osupile Maroba. He says people should not wait for supplementary registration because it may not happen. “Supplementary registration is subject to many factors which may not allow for it to take place.” Maroba says there are various reasons why some people refuse to participate in elections some of which he blames on the local political climate.

A mini survey carried out by the Sunday Standard in Gaborone and surrounding areas has revealed the most people who do not vote were either frustrated by the lack of service delivery, unstable political climate or did not understand the importance of the electoral process. “Politicians are just out to enrich themselves,” says one. “The moment they are elected into office they forget all about the electorate only to resurface again prior to the next elections. Some do not vote because “what is the point … The BDP will win again.”Although they sympathise with the opposition some are frustrated by the constant defections by opposition members.

IEC’s Maroba says happy or not, people who do not vote effectively relinquish their power to those who do. “If you are happy with the status quo you have to vote to maintain it and if you are not, it is also through voting that you can change the situation,” he advises. According to the 2002 IEC and University of Botswana Democracy Research Project (DRP) report on voter apathy there has been a steady decline in voting trends with the highest participation of 58% in 1965 and lowest of 30.9% in 1974. In the last general elections (2009), the percentage of registered voters who cast their ballots during the elections was 80 percent or 555 308 of the 725 817 people who had registered. There were at least 1, 1 million eligible voters. This means that as much as 50% of illegible Batswana voters did not care enough to decide which party would best serve their interests. The registration process closes today, October 27th, and unless there is a dramatic last minute turn-out the figures will remain below half of IEC’s target of 1,4 million registrations.

Source: Sunday Standard

Madagascar Elections: Observers describe as free and fair

International observers have described Madagascar's presidential election as free and transparent as results slowly come through.  Friday's poll was the first to be held on the island since a coup in 2009. Preliminary results show that an ally of the ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana has taken an early lead.
Richard Jean-Louis Robinson has about 30% of the votes so far, while his main rival Hery Martial Rakotoarimanana Rajaonarimampianina has just over 15%.
Full results could take as long as a week to emerge.
If no candidate receives more than 50% of the votes cast, a second round will be held on 20 December.
Election pledges
The EU's chief election observer, Maria Muniz de Urquiza, described Friday's elections as free, transparent and credible, despite isolated incidents of violence. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, the head of the observer mission for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said the elections were peaceful, calm, fair and transparent, and reflect the will of the people.

The two front-runners, Mr Rajaonarimampianina and Mr Robinson, have both pledged to rebuild Madagascar's economy after years of political unrest. More than 92% of the country's 21 million people live on less than $2 (£1.20) a day, according to the World Bank. Mr Rajaonarimampianina says he aims to help the unemployed, build infrastructure to improve agriculture, reform the education system and make Madagascar a strong democracy.

Mr Robinson says that his electoral programme will draw heavily on a new version of Mr Ravalomanana's Madagascar Action Plan (MAP) to help rebuild society and also rejuvenate the ailing tourism industry.
Madagascar has been in political turmoil since 2009, when Andry Rajoelina ousted Marc Ravalomanana from power. The coup left the country isolated by the international community and deprived of foreign aid. In January this year Mr Rajoelina and Mr Ravalomanana both agreed not to stand in the polls, in line with a plan agreed with SADC.

Source: BBC

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Présidentielle malgache : Un scrutin pour rebattre les cartes

Trente-trois candidats vont s’affronter à Madagascar lors de la présidentielle du 25 octobre. Un scrutin qui devrait mettre un terme à plus de quatre ans de crise et dont les résultats vont sans doute remodeler un paysage politique où les alliances se font et se défont au gré des luttes de pouvoir.

Au lendemain de la prise de pouvoir d’Andry Rajoelina en 2009, les choses semblaient presque plus claires. Quatre grandes mouvances, les principales tendances politiques malgaches, étaient alors identifiées : celles des deux principaux rivaux, Andry Rajoelina, à la tête de la Haute autorité de transition, et Marc Ravalomanana, exilé en Afrique du Sud. Deux anciens présidents, Didier Ratsiraka (au pouvoir de 1975 à 1993 puis de 1997 à 2002) et Albert Zafy (1993-1997), passaient pour être incontournables dans une résolution large et durable du conflit malgache. Quatre ans plus tard, la situation est plus confuse. Les cartes ont été rebattues : « Le principe même des quatre mouvances était artificiel. Cela ne reflétait pas les divisions internes », explique Annie Rakotoniaina, juriste et membre de l’Observatoire de la vie publique.

La logique de parti ne prime pas

Divisions, alliances, opportunisme… Résultat : 33 candidats sont sur la ligne de départ pour la présidentielle du 25 octobre, et, sans sondages fiables, il est difficile de mesurer la puissance de chacun. « Je ne vois pas un parti dominant, affirme Jean-Claude Ramandimbiarison. Les gens assistent aux meetings des différents candidats simplement pour voir des artistes et recevoir des T-shirts. » En 2011, le ministère de l’Intérieur recensait 354 partis politiques à Madagascar ; certains ne comptaient qu’un bureau de 5 membres, minimum requis pour être inscrit officiellement. Une loi sur les partis politiques est venue restreindre en 2012 les critères d’inscription : il faut désormais recueillir 200 signatures, déclarer l’adresse du siège du parti, et présenter un projet de société. Le nombre de partis officiels est tombé à 173 – mais la Constitution malgache permet à tout citoyen de se porter candidat avec ou sans parti. « Paradoxalement, c’est peut-être encore la mouvance Ravalomanana qui dispose d’une base. » Pour le scrutin du 25 octobre, l’ex-président Ravalomanana a choisi son candidat dix jours avant le début de la campagne : Jean-Louis Robinson, ancien ministre de la Santé et des Sports. Ce médecin, absent du paysage politique depuis quatre ans, n’est membre ni de la mouvance ni du parti de l’ex-président - le TIM (Tiako i Madagasikara, « J’aime Madagascar »). Il peut bénéficier du soutien de la mouvance qui a toujours un maillage national important après sept ans au pouvoir et dispose encore d’élus locaux dans toute l’île. Mais l’absence de son leader sur le territoire et sa gestion controversée de la crise ont atténué la puissance du TIM.

« La mouvance Rajoelina est divisée pour cette élection. Sans parler d’une quelconque base, le citoyen lambda, sympathisant d’Andry Rajoelina, ne s’y retrouve pas », analyse Annie Rakotoniaina, pour qui la victoire du candidat du pouvoir n’est pas évidente. Le parti TGV (Tanora mala Gasy Vonona, « Les jeunes malgaches prêts »), créé par Andry Rajoelina, avait en effet choisi son candidat lors de son congrès national en avril dernier : Edgard Razafindravahy, maire désigné d’Antananarivo. Mais la logique de parti, là encore, ne prime pas. C’est Hery Rajaonarimampianina, ministre des Finances et du Budget depuis 2009, qui a la préférence du président de la Transition et de la majorité des membres de sa mouvance. Comme Robinson, ce candidat est peu connu de la population. Désigné lui aussi sur le tard, il bénéficie de l’arsenal de campagne déployé par ses soutiens.

Sans étiquette

« C’est peut-être le plus riche qui remportera l’élection… C’est une hypothèse », avance M. Ramandimbiarison. Car, si les représentants des deux grands rivaux déploient les grands moyens, ils ne sont pas les seuls. Une petite dizaine de candidats parcourent le territoire en avion et en hélicoptère depuis un mois et comptent bien obtenir leur place au deuxième tour. En l’absence de sondages, rien ne dit qu’ils n’ont pas les mêmes chances que les deux grandes mouvances. Le paysage politique est en train de se dessiner et les politiciens le savent : la plupart des candidats aux législatives du 20 décembre (jumelées avec l’éventuel second tour de la présidentielle) se présentent sans étiquette.

« Ils ont peur de choisir un parti politique car actuellement on ne connaît pas encore les tendances dans l’opinion publique », explique Thierry Rakotonarivo, secrétaire général du ministère de l’Intérieur. En effet, la Constitution malgache prévoit (art. 72) que « durant son mandat le député ne peut, sous peine de déchéance, changer de groupe politique pour adhérer à un nouveau groupe, autre que celui au nom duquel il s’est fait élire ». Les candidats inscrits comme indépendants peuvent en revanche pratiquer la transhumance politique. Pour M. Rakotonarivo, « ils attendent de voir le rapport de forces après les élections »…

(MFI/22.10.2013) MFI/Avec Marie Audran

Madagascar Elections: Vote Must End Instability, Suffering - Unicef

As Madagascar prepares for crucial presidential polls on Friday, UNICEF is hoping the vote will bring much-needed stability after five years of political crisis left the island's 22 million people in dire need. With an estimated 92 percent of the population living on just $2 a day, UNICEF says there is not more time to waste.

Madagascar has moved from one problem to another since 2009, when Andry Rajoelina, the mayor of the capital, Antananarivo, ousted President Marc Ravalomanana in a coup backed by the army. The political upheaval dominated the government and little to no attention was paid to the needs of the people.

Steven Lauwerier, UNICEF Representative in Madagascar, said the presidential vote on Friday is a golden opportunity to get the country back on track.

The coup resulted in the suspension of the international aid, which accounts for 40 percent of the national budget. And that, said Lauwerier, has in turn led to severe cuts in government social programs.

"The burden of the crisis came back to families. Families had to pay for the children to go to school. Families had to pay far more for the health services. One-point-five million children that are not at school at this moment - that's a lost generation. Those are sacrifices that had to be made at the cost of the most vulnerable, unfortunately in the society," said Lauwerier.

Misery in numbers

Statistics from UNICEF tell more of the story. Five Malagasy women die each day in childbirth and five children under the age of five are reportedly dying every hour, due to diseases that are preventable.

Worse still, one in two children are malnourished while 80 percent of them live below the poverty level.

Lauwerier said Madagascar's people are pinning their hopes on Friday's election to bring improvements.

"Everybody hopes it will bring change, but that will depend, of course, on the politicians themselves, and it will depend on those who win and those who lose to accept that they lost. But everybody hopes that that will stick back the kind of confidence from the international community as well in the country and confidence that also investors need to invest in the country and bring a bit of stability," said Lauwerier.

Thirty-three candidates are contesting the presidency. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote in the first round, the two top contenders will compete in a second round scheduled for December 20, when parliamentary elections also take place.

Source: VOA

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Observers give Madagascar poll all clear

The missions of international observers which met in Madagascar Tuesday, said it is satisfied with the preparations for the presidential election scheduled on Friday.
Initiated by the Observer Mission of the African Union, the meeting has participation of leaders of different missions including the Community of Southern Africa (SADC), the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), the Forum of electoral Commissions (SADC- ECF), the Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF), the European Union (EU), to discuss the political situation and mediation efforts to end the crisis in Madagascar.
All heads of mission noted the efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission for the Transition (CENI-T) to ensure the smooth conduct of elections, saying that CENI-T has implemented adequate and satisfactory technical measures to achieve free and peaceful elections.
Heads of mission invited observers to be diligent and responsible during their mission in Madagascar and try their best for the interest of peace and stability in Madagascar.
A total of 7,823,305 voters will vote on Friday and CENI-T plans to publish preliminary results 10 days after the election.
Source: Africa Review

Madagascar presidential election Q & A

Voters on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar go to the polls on 25 October to elect a president in the first election since the military-backed coup of 2009.  The election - which has been postponed three times this year after months of wrangling - is the first to take place since current leader Andry Rajoelina ousted his predecessor Marc Ravalomanana four years ago. The 2009 coup led to a devastating economic crisis in Madagascar after sanctions were imposed on the country as a whole, as well as several individuals involved in the takeover, including Mr Rajoelina. As a result, the economy has been in a state of paralysis and foreign aid, which once accounted for almost half the country's budget, has been suspended.

Why were the elections postponed repeatedly?

After seizing power, Mr Rajoelina announced that there would be a new constitution and elections within 24 months. In May 2009 it was agreed that all former presidents would be allowed to stand in the election. However, these failed to take place in 2009 or 2010.  In January this year Mr Rajoelina and Mr Ravalomanana both agreed not to stand in the polls, in line with a plan by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional bloc that Madagascar belongs to.
The first round of this election was set to take place in July 2013 but was pushed back to August because Mr Ravalomanana's wife and former first lady, Lalao  and then Mr Rajoelina himself - decided to run, prompting donors to suspend financing for the poll.  Mr Rajoelina and Lalao Ravalomanana were then barred from standing and the electoral court also struck former President Didier Ratsiraka from the list of candidates after the three refused to withdraw. The African Union had said it would not recognize the results if any of the three were declared the winner. The electoral commission then set the elections for 25 October so that it could change the list of candidates to exclude the three.  Proxy candidates are running for Mr Rajoelina and Mr Ravalomanana, who lives in exile in South Africa. However, he still commands a lot of support in the country.

What state is the country in?

According to World Bank statistics, more than 92% of Madagascar's population of some 21 million lives on less than $2 a day. There are 47.4 deaths for every 1,000 live births and the average lifespan is 65 for men and 69 for women.

Who are the main candidates?

Thirty-three candidates are taking part. The front-runners are:
•    Hery Martial Rakotoarimanana Rajaonarimampianina, seen as Mr Rajoelina's preferred candidate although the interim president has said he is not backing anyone. A former finance minister in the transitional government, he says he aims to help the unemployed, build infrastructure to improve agriculture, reform the education system and make Madagascar a strong democracy.
•    Richard Jean-Louis Robinson who is standing for the Avana [Rainbow] party and is being backed by Mr Ravalomanana, under whom he served as health minister. Mr Robinson says his electoral programme will draw heavily on a new version of Mr Ravalomanana's Madagascar Action Plan (MAP) to help rebuild society and also rejuvenate the ailing tourism industry.

Is there a free media?

Most of Madagascar's newspapers and broadcast media are owned by politicians but only two of the presidential candidates actually own newspapers or broadcast houses themselves. According to Freedom House, media in the country is "partly free".
In the final run-up to the polls, the electoral commission and state broadcaster ORTM have allocated 15 minutes of free paid-for airtime for each candidate every day.

Who is managing the elections?

The Independent National Electoral Commission of the Transition (Cenit) - an independent electoral body funded by the United Nations - is in charge of the polls.
Presidential candidates must be Malagasy citizens and have lived in Madagascar for at least six months before applying to stand, a condition that Mr Ratsarika and Lalao Ravalomanana both failed to meet.
No firm date has been set to announce the results but if no candidate receives more than 50% of the votes cast, a second round will be held on 20 December, along with the parliamentary elections.
Cenit says there are 7,697,382 registered voters and 20,115 polling stations in Madagascar, a country the size of France with a scattered population. Some media reported that distribution of voting cards did not begin until 10 October and some registered voters in the capital, Antananarivo, had still not received them by 16 October.

Source: BBC

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ghana 2012 Elections in Pictures

After successfully covering Ghana elections 2012 under “Enabling Peaceful Transparent And Credible Elections In Ghana Using New Media Project”, African Elections Project (AEP) has launched Ghana Elections 2012 in pictures book which chronicles key memorable events and captivating moments that enlivened the otherwise calm country spanning the period before, during and after the elections. (Download the Book HERE)

Ghana Elections 2012 In Pictures takes readers through colourful snapshots right from the political campaign trails, tours and rallies of the various political parties, through activities on the actual voting day to the closing moments of the whole electoral exercise.
The spotlight is also shined on all the leading contenders in the 2012 Ghana elections. Some of the high profile politicians belonging to the various political parties were also captured exercising their ballots.

The official results by the Electoral Commission of Ghana, key facts and figures about the polls, Basic Regional Electoral Statistics, some parliamentary candidates, the work of the various stakeholders such as election observers, civil society organizations (CSOs), journalists, security agencies, and the electoral commission as well as front pages of newspapers coverage of the elections are also captured in this picture book.

The outcome of the 2012 Ghana presidential election which was contested in the Supreme Court of Ghana by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the subsequent ruling by the Supreme Court upholding the declaration of John Dramani Mahama by the electoral commission as the validly elected president is all documented by the book.

The Ghana Elections 2012 in Pictures is a good read, helping readers to instantly connect to fond memories that characterized the general elections – both humorous moments that relaxed the country and tense moments that filled the atmosphere with an uneasy sense of foreboding.

According to Jerry Sam, the Project Director of African Elections Project (AEP), “a picture says a thousand words, and the beautiful collection of pictures in this book is intended to summarily tell the story of the 2012 general elections in Ghana visually, and serve as reference document for happenings around the elections”.

African Elections Project (AEP), established in 2008 by the Penplusbytes Institute of ICT Journalism, is one of the continent’s most authoritative elections information centres, committed to particularly ensuring peaceful and successful elections on the African continent.

AEP has successfully covered elections in many African countries including Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Ghana and Togo. Other countries that the AEP has also successfully covered are Cote D’Ivoire, Niger, Mauritania, Malawi and Guinea. In 2010 The African Elections Project was selected as an innovative project during World Bank Innovation Fair held in South Africa.

Source: AEP

Election security in Madagascar insured

Multiple measures are taken to insure the validity of this week's Madagascar presidential election, electoral officials said on Monday during a press conference. The President of Madagascar's Independent National Election Commission (CENIT) Atallah Beatrice said that materials of votes, escorted by CENIT officials and armed forces, have already arrived at their destinations.

It will be the first time that Madagascar will computerize elections. All documents containing the results from polling stations will be scanned and sent by email to CENIT's headquarters in the capital just after the elections to know earlier the results and avoid fraud, said Beatrice. Then documents will be sent physically to CENIT headquarters by magistrates, accompanied by police officials.
The United Nations representative to Madagascar Fatma Samoura said 9,000,000 ballots had been printed for 7,823,305 voters. Each ballot has its own serial number and secret marks that only the CENIT president and the printer know.

They will not be issued before the election day. Armed forces had been deployed to insure security before, during and after the elections, said Colonel Rakotoarisoa Anthony, director of security and intelligence under the National Gendarmerie.
They will stay near polling stations, but not in them, and the only way for them to get in is to vote as Malagasy citizens.The election is set on Friday, Oct. 25. If none of the 33 candidates gets over 50 percent of votes, a second round election will be held between the top two candidates on Dec. 20, 2013.

Source:  New Horizon

Monday, October 21, 2013

Madagascar Hopes for an end to the chaos after election

Shunned by foreign investors, wracked by poverty, empty state coffers and economic decline, Madagascar has been caught in crisis since a coup in 2009. Presidential elections at the end of October might be a way out.  Erick Regis Rakotomalala rings the small bell on his rickshaw. He has a woolen blanket slung over his shoulders, because it is a cold morning in Madagascar's central highlands. For Rakotomalala and the other rickshaw drivers, it is a long wait for the day's first fare.

Since the start of the crisis we haven't had many customers. People who live here can't afford our services," he said. "If it weren't for the tourists we wouldn't be earning anything at all. And even what we do earn often isn't enough to buy something to eat.Whether in the city or in rural areas, whether rickshaw driver, tailor or housewife, all face poverty. It is a battle just to survive and the political crisis is affecting everbody.

Since a coup in 2009, Madagascar has been ruled by a transitional government, which many countries around the world, Germany included, have refused to recognize. Donors have frozen aid and the United States has suspended its preferential trade benefits hitting the Madagascan textile industry hard. 30,000 textile jobs were lost.That is just one aspect of the crisis. Haleh Bridi, head of the World Bank in Madagascar, said the government is having to introduce draconian austerity measures in order to avoid default.

Public expenditure on education, health, social security and food has been severely cut back. This, of course, has a profound impact on the life of the population and their everyday needs, she said. Before 2009 the economy was starting to improve. President Marc Ravalomanana was pursuing liberal economic policies with which he was able to attract development aid and investment from abroad, and post annual economic growth of around five percent. But then allegations of corruption surfaced and he was ousted from power by his arch rival Andry Rajoelina in a coup. Since then economic growth has plummeted, according to the World Bank.

Madagascar has lurched from one crisis to the next since it gained independence from France in 1960. Bridi said its economic decline is nothing new and began many, many years ago. The country does go through phases of growth, but seen from a long-term perspective the economy has been in decline for decades. "Years of mismanagement become particularly visible in time of crisis, like the present. Many families do not have enough to eat. The state still subsidizes petrol and electricity but it won't be able to afford to do so for much longer. But once subsidies are lifted, inflation will start to rise.

Foreign investors have either left Madagascar or scaled back their involvement in the country. Heiko Schlittke is a German national and managing director of telecoms operator Airtel in Madagascar. He said his company is just keeping its mobile phone network in operation at the moment. Expanding  is not an option, at least not until a number of conditions have been met.

We need decent elections with a credible outcome, which would lead in turn to the creation of a legitimate government, with whom foreign investors can negotiate with confidence.Schlittke explained what the absence of such confidence means. "If I receive a document signed by one particular official today, there is no telling as to whether that signature or document will be valid tomorrow.

Source: Deutsche Welle

Madagascar Elections: SADC Launches Observation Programme

Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) has launched its observation programme for the Madagascar elections on Friday 24th October 2013 where the SADC plans to deploy 300 observers from 14 SADC Member States to polling stations in Madagascar.
The Namibia Foreign Affairs Minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah who is the Head of the Southern Africa

Development Community Observer Mission to the elections in Madagascar told New Era that she was satisfied with the preparation process and the way the Malagasy people are conducting themselves during the campaigns. She said the observer mission is guided by various instruments that include the SADC Treaty, the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, as well as the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Elections.

The SADC applauded the people of Madagascar for placing the interest of the nation first before their individual interests. 7,697,382 registered voters will elect a president a president from 33 presidential candidates and second round of elections will take place between the 2 leading candidates if December 20 if there is no clear winner on Friday.

Source: AEP

Cameroon’s ruling party declared election winner

Cameroon's Supreme Court says President Paul Biya's party retained its control of the National Assembly in last month's elections. Results revealed on Thursday showed the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement took 148 of 180 seats. The Social Democratic Front led by John Fru Ndi came in second with 18 seats. The court is the body that ratifies the results.

Biya marks 31 years in office next month and his party has won elections going back to Cameroon's first multiparty vote in 1992, though fraud allegations are common. Opposition candidates claimed this year that a new biometric voter registration system was vulnerable to fraud and criticized the government for the late distribution of campaign funds.
Biya has said the Sept. 30 vote showcased the democratic "maturity" of this African nation of 21 million

Source: Las Vegas Sun

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Madagascar Elections: Better than nothing?

VEHICLES brandishing, loudspeakers blast out propaganda in the streets of Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital. Candidate’s faces are plastered across buildings, buses and T-shirts given out at rallies. It has been a long time coming, but after months of wrangling, three postponements and a lot of international pressure, Madagascar is finally set to hold its first presidential elections since a coup in early 2009. The first round is supposed to take place on October 25th, the second on December 20th, along with parliamentary elections.
This is good news, at least on the face of things. Of the 52 African countries measured by the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance, Madagascar, a vast island off Africa’s east coast, registered the biggest deterioration in overall governance over the past 12 years. 

Since the coup, the economy has tanked. Foreign aid, which once accounted for 40% of the budget, has been suspended and foreign direct investment has stalled, as investors remain wary of dealing with a government widely deemed illegitimate. Poverty has risen: two-thirds of Malagasies say they are in a bad or very bad financial way, compared with less than a third before the coup. People want to move on. In a survey published in July by Afrobarometer, a company with backers in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, 80% of respondents said elections would be the best way out of the crisis. Yet Malagasies resent foreign interference, mainly by the French government and NGOs, as well as the European Union and the Southern African Development Community, a 15-country regional club. 

Between them they helped arrange for Andry Rajoelina, Madagascar’s acting president and Marc Ravalomanana, the former leader who has been exiled in South Africa since the coup, to be barred from standing, along with Mr. Ravalomanana’s wife, Lalao. Yet many Malagasies now say they would have preferred a free election in which voters could have their say once and for all, with no one barred from running. As it stands, the Rajoelina-Ravalomanana feud is unresolved and will be fought by proxy candidates instead. In any event, the elections have been poorly organized. Madagascar is a country the size of France with a scattered population of 22m and few roads, making remote villages hard to reach during the one-month-long campaign. 

The country’s electoral commission, which is overseeing a new voting procedure, will struggle to get its message to rural areas. Moreover, campaign financing has been shady. Most newspapers and broadcast media are owned by the leading candidates. As the second round is to take place during the rainy season, turnout may be low. And the electoral register is still incomplete.

Source: The Economist

Monday, October 14, 2013

United Nations voices concern over delay of Guinea election results

The United Nations on Sunday called upon Guinea's electoral commission to publish results of a September 28 election aimed at completing a transition to democracy, saying it was concerned over the delay. Disputes over a published partial count have held up the final result and raised fears of a resurgence of violence that killed about 50 people before the vote.
The opposition is calling for the election to be annulled, dampening hopes for an end to years of instability since a 2008 military coup that deterred investment in the world's largest bauxite exporter. The United Nations and representatives of donor nations that brokered a deal with the opposition to end protests and allow the legislative vote said they were concerned by delays in the publication of the results.

Guinea's National Election Commission should make every effort to complete the tabulation of preliminary election results for publication in any event before Eid al-Adha, the Muslim feast on Tuesday, the U.N. said in a statement. It called upon political parties and the election commission to co-operate in publishing results from the Matoto district in the capital, one of the country's biggest, which both sides claim to have won.
Partial results to date show President Alpha Conde's ruling RPG party with a slight lead over opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo's UFDG and former Prime Minister Sidya Toure's UFR. Opposition groups have rejected those results and last week pulled their representatives out of the election's organizing commission, calling for the vote to be annulled.

Source: Reuters

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Guinea's opposition withdraws from UN talks

Guinea's opposition walked out of UN-backed talks with the government on Tuesday, accusing it of rigging last week's legislative elections and deepening fears of a return to violence. The United Nations brought the two sides together earlier this year after the opposition took to the streets, accusing the government of plotting to rig the vote. Clashes with security forces killed around 50 people. The parties agreed to let the long-delayed election - which was meant to mark the completion of a democratic transition after a 2008 military coup - take place on Sept. 28.

Partial results to date show President Alpha Conde's ruling RPG party with a slight lead over opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo's UFDG and former Prime Minister Sidya Toure's UFR. But opposition groups rejected those results on Thursday and pulled their representatives out of the election's organizing commission on Friday. We have decided to withdraw from the (UN-chaired) facilitation committee because we realized that it served no purpose ... Not a single one of its recommendations have been acted on since it was created, said Toure. The opposition had said many of its supporters were left off the voting register, whereas other names had been duplicated several times. The UN mediators negotiated a four-day delay to the vote to let organizers change the register  but EU observers later said not all the complaints had been addressed.

We do not accept the results ,There has been ballot box stuffing, returns annulled from polling stations and ballots changed to favour  the ruling party, said Toure. The ruling party has in turn said there was electoral fraud in the western regions of Boke and Boffa and the southeastern region of Nzerekore, all seen as opposition strongholds.
However, it has said that on the whole the election was sound. The opposition should understand that the results coming out reflect the reality on the ground,” said Moustapha Naite, spokesman for the ruling RPG party. “Delays have occurred because the opposition demanded, and was given, a manual count. There was no one immediately available to comment from the UN team in the West African country.

More than a week after the Sept. 28 vote, the CENI electoral commission has still not published the results from at least three of the 38 voting districts. No one party was expected to win an overall majority in the 114-seat assembly. The economic growth forecast in the world's top bauxite exporter has been slashed to 2.9 percent for this year, down from 4.5 percent, after the protests and political paralysis hit investment in the mining sector.

Source: Reuters

Guinea’s President rubbishes fraud allegations

Guinea's President Alpha Conde has dismissed accusations of electoral fraud lodged by the opposition, as the government continues to disallow protests against the election results. On Tuesday, diplomats and UN representatives observing the country's first parliamentary elections in over a decade raised concerns over "irregularities", warning that some results from the September 28 poll may have been skewed.
Breaches and irregularities were observed in a certain number of constituencies, preventing a significant number of votes from being taken into account, and could therefore put into question the sincerity of certain results," the diplomats said in a joint statement, pointing to issues in eight out of 38 constituencies. "I don't pay attention to all this," Alpha Conde said in an interview with the AFP news agency on Tuesday, responding to fraud allegations and the opposition's calls for the vote to be scrapped.

Those who are thinking of destabilizing Guinea are making a mistake. Guinea will never be destabilized," he said, responding to the threat of mass demonstrations by his opponents. "Every party has its view, but it is their responsibility to send their views to the Supreme Court, which is the only jurisdiction with the authority to decide," he said. "I am waiting for the outcome. According to partial and provisional results released 10 days after the vote, Conde's ruling Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) party is in the lead. The party had already claimed it would be able to command a majority in the country's national assembly.

Fought for democracy
Conde, who long led the political opposition to the late dictator Lansana Conte, became Guinea's first democratically elected president in 2010. The 75-year-old said he had "fought for democracy for 50 years", insisting he had himself been a victim of electoral fraud "several times" at the hands of men who were "prime ministers at the time", referring to former prime minister and opposition coalition spokesman Sidya Toure, as well as Cellou Dalein Diallo and Lansana Kouyate who also served under general Conte's 1984-2008 regime.

 I've always fought for transparency and I've always said that under my presidency, all elections will be free, democratic and transparent," Conde said. The last parliamentary elections in Guinea took place in June 2002 during the dictatorship of Conte, who died in December 2008 after 24 years in power. Last month's legislative elections - which were repeatedly delayed because of disagreements between the government and the opposition - were meant to allow Guinea to turn the page on a troubled transition following Conte's death.

Allegations of irregularities
But since the start of the year violence linked to the election process and inter-ethnic strife has left dozens dead and hundreds wounded in the impoverished West African country. Guinea's main opposition parties claim the September polls were marred by a string of irregularities, including ballot stuffing, voter intimidation and minors casting ballots.

Tensions rose further when the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) was slow to announce the results, blamed by Conde on a manual tally. Given the state of our roads results could not arrive in time," he said. Under Guinea's election law, the Supreme Court has to rubberstamp the final results within 10 days of polls closing.
On Tuesday, 30 young opposition supporters were detained for staging an unsanctioned protest against the alleged irregularities, a security official said. Alpha Barry, spokesman for a special elections-related security force, said the demonstrators gathered to denounce the disappearance of a ballot box in Conakry's administrative district where the office of the president is located.

 Source: Aljazeera

ECOWAS Raises Funds for Guinea Bissau Elections

An official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says the regional bloc is raising funds to help Guinea Bissau organize elections scheduled for November 24. Sonny Ugoh, ECOWAS communication director, says Guinea Bissau needs about $19.4 million for the balloting.

Apart from working with international partners ECOWAS member states are also setting the pace by putting together some $12 million to support that process. A determination has been made to the effect that the ECOWAS commission gave $ 3 million; the EU gave $4 million and the UN Development Program $1.5 million. Guinea Bissau urged ECOWAS to help finance its elections, saying it lacked the money to organize and administer the vote. 

We are being driven by the sense of solidarity with Guinea Bissau because we want to make sure the country returns to constitutionalism  and has an election that will enable them to have a president and members of the legislature, said Ugoh. At their recent summit, regional heads of state and government agreed that Guinea Bissau’s interim government should hand over power to an elected administration by the end of this year. Ugoh says the agreement is aimed at ensuring Guinea Bissau citizens can choose their own leaders.

This is to ensure that there is election and member states also want to promote democracy and good governance in the region. He says the team of ECOWAS officials was recently in Guinea Bissau to assess the political and the security situation there ahead of the November balloting.
We have fielded a pre-election finding mission and this fact finding mission held discussions with all the stakeholders, said Ugoh. “Two issues were flagged:  one was the issue of funding, which has now been resolved with this enthusiastic international support and the second issue has to do with the timetable for the elections. Ugoh says regional leaders have pledged to support to Guinea Bissau’s embrace of democracy and return to constitutional rule.

ECOWAS wants to make sure that it accompanies them in this process to ensure that the election takes place, said Ugoh. “We think that the election is key to restoring the democratic process in that country considering that we are also engaged in defense and security sector reform, which we hope will address all the key challenges, associated with the military and security services so that we can a stable and durable democracy.

Source:  Voice of America

Friday, October 4, 2013

Guinea's Opposition Demands Election Annulment

Guinea's political opposition has called for the annulment of the September 28 legislative elections, saying the voting was marred by massive fraud. The opposition says there was fraud organised before, during and after the vote including ballot stuffing, substitutions of vote counts sent to the electoral commission and interference by government officials and army officers in the collecting of votes.

In a Friday statement, the opposition says the goal was to give President Alpha Conde's ruling party an excessive parliamentary majority and allow him to set up an authoritarian regime. The opponents say if the polling results are not invalidated, they will urge their supporters to launch protests.
On Thursday, the opposition said it was rejecting partial election results, which showed Mr. Conde's Rally of the Guinean people party (RPG) had taken a lead in several districts. Saturday's polling was the country's first legislative election in more than a decade and had been touted as the completion of the West African nation's transition from military rule to democracy.

President Conde was elected in 2010, two years after army officers took power following the death of authoritarian president Lansana Conte.  1,700 candidates are seeking the 114 seats in Guinea's national assembly. The voting had been postponed repeatedly over the past two years due in part to violent clashes and the threat of more trouble if the vote went ahead.

 Source:  Voice of America

European Union To Observe Madagascar Elections

The European Union will observe Madagascar's presidential and parliamentary elections on invitation from the the country's government.
Madagascar presidential elections are scheduled for October 25 and parliamentary elections in December.
The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) is led by Maria Muñiz de Urquiza, Member of the European Parliament, who arrived in the Madagascan capital Antananarivo on Wednesday and will officially launch the mission on Thursday.
A core team of nine EU election analysts arrived in Antananarivo on September 25. They will be joined by 44 long-term observers on Thursday, and will be reinforced by 50 short-term observers a few days before election day. On the election day a delegation of the European Parliament as well as locally based members of the EU diplomatic community will join the mission. The EU EOM will deploy over 100 observers throughout the country on election day, the European Commission said in a press release.
Shortly after the polling, the EOM will issue a preliminary statement of its initial findings at a press conference inAntananarivo. The EOM will remain in Madagascar to observe final counting of votes and any complaint procedures.
It will also observe the legislative elections scheduled for December 20 and a possible second round of the presidential elections. The EOM will prepare a final report including recommendations to be submitted to the Malagasy authorities with a view to further developing and possibly improving the electoral framework

Source: RTT News

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Liberia Elections: Senatorial Race in Bong County Heats Up

The top contenders for the special senatorial election include Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor (NPP), Ranney Banama Jackson (Unity Party), Augustus Jonathan Flomo (Congress for Democratic Change), Dr. Henrique Flomo Tokpa (Unity Party), former Senator Franklin Obed Siakor (Liberty Party) and Benedict Sagbeh (Movement for Progressive Change).

A native of Sanoyea district in lower Bong, Senator Howard-Taylor has intimidating credentials. She was the Chairman of the Bong legislative caucus. She has a large followership in parts of Sanoyea district and Gbartala town, a place where her former husband Charles Taylor killed and forcibly recruited Bong residents to the defunct Anti Terrorist Unit.
 The Bong County Senator has structures across the county. Many believe the popularity of her former husband could easily propel her to second term and could further capitalize on her former husband’s 50-years upheld sentence to win the apathy of Bong residents. Howard-Taylor  faces a stiff opposition from some influential politicians in the county.

The current Deputy Minister for Operations  Ranney Jackson finished fourth in the 2005 election with over 11,000 votes and came close to winning after losing to eventual winner Henry Yallah less than 600 votes. He appears to be battle weary but his supporters insist that he is a crowd pillar and a factor in Bong politics.
 However, many believe that his closeness with Bong Superintendent Selena Poson-Mappy, arguably the most influential female in the county, may tilt the balance in his favor.
Besides Raney Jackson having some weaknesses, he does not seem to have a deep purse to run an effective countywide campaign. Also, the presence of his brother-in-law, Tokpa, in the race may split Karyata votes.

Dr. Henrique Flomo Tokpa is the President of Cuttington, Liberia’s premier university. Tokpa enjoys immense visibility in his current job. He is a wealthy politician.  But Bong County politics is treacherous and unpredictable. Tokpa’s critics accuse him of arrogance, but he rejected the label, saying that his self-confidence has been uncritically confused with arrogance.

Tokpa is receiving a lot of bashing for allegedly using his influence as a university president to target lecturers of the university who have opposed his political ambition as was evidenced by the termination of contract of Mogana Flomo, a father to senatorial aspirant Augustus Jonathan Flomo.
Saybay is a radical Liberian attorney who is serving a one-year suspension by the Liberia Bar Association for an alleged fraud. He is also a protégé of a famous chief in Bong and with the rising apathy in some quarters; analysts believe that he has a good chance. Saybay’s name should not come up for mention as a contender. But tongues are wagging. With the spree of his countywide people-centered donations, his ambition cannot be ruled out.

Siakor is major player in Bong politics. He comes from the background of a classroom teacher. He is a formidable politician beloved by the elderly. The former Bong Senator was a member of the 52nd National Legislature between 2005 and 2011.
 He is popular in upper Bong. Against all odds, he contested in the 2011 presidential election as a running mate to Liberty Party’s which finished third in Bong. Siakor has a superior numerical strength and if the teachers who are in vast majority in the county support him, he will shake the county in 2014. Prior to Siakor’s pronouncement to contest the 2014 special election, teachers in Bong have been in the political wilderness in the last two years, shopping for a credible candidate. But a major minus for Siakor is his perceived independent mind.

Flomo, fondly called “the Lion Heart of Bong”, will be running on the platform of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). . He is an advocate of power shift. Flomo had boasted that the CDC will dislodge the UP and NPP in 2014. “The die is cast between the CDC and NPP in Bong.
Flomo’s debut in politics earned him a third place in the 2011 election when he contested as a Liberty Party partisan and with the “CDC fever” taking center stage in Bong, many believed that Flomo could be a strong factor for the incumbent.

Source: FrontPageAfrica