Thursday, May 28, 2015

Burundi: Catholic church redraws support for elections

Burundi's influential Catholic Church said Thursday it was withdrawing support for upcoming elections in the crisis-hit country, dealing a fresh blow to President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial bid to run for a third term.

A statement from Burundi's bishops said that "after considering the manner in which the elections have been organised and the way they are evolving", the church had asked priests who serve in electoral commissions across the central African nation step down.

The announcement came the day after Burundi's main opposition parties said it was now "impossible" to hold free and fair elections and that the result should not be recognised if they take place.

Parliamentary elections are due to be held on June 5, with a presidential poll scheduled for June 26. The UN Security Council also met on the crisis late Wednesday, with most of its 15 members also supporting a postponement.

In the statement, read out on Catholic radio by Bishop Gervais Bashimiyubusa, the church said it "cannot endorse an election riddled with shortcomings".

It nevertheless said people should vote, but stressed that nobody should go to the polls "by threat or intimidation, or because they have been bought in one way or another".

"In the eyes of God, that would be slavery to evil," Bashimiyubusa said.

The crisis surrounds Nkurunziza's uncompromising desire to stand for a third consecutive term in office, with opposition and rights groups saying the move violates the constitution as well as the terms of a peace deal that ended a 13-year civil war in 2006.

That conflict, marked by brutal ethnic violence between the country's ethnic Hutu and Tutsi communities, left hundreds of thousands of people dead, and there are fears the latest unrest could plunge the small, landlocked and impoverished nation back into widespread violence.

The crisis intensified earlier this month when a top general staged a failed coup attempt.

The Catholic Church has already spoken out against the president, saying it too has concluded his third-term bid goes against the peace deal.

Street protests have taken place for the past month, leaving at least 30 people dead after a violent crackdown by security forces. There were more protests on Thursday in several parts of the lakeside capital of Bujumbura, with a massive police presence along main roads.

After a meeting on the crisis late Wednesday, the UN Security Council heard a report from UN envoy Said Djinnit on the turmoil.

"The predominant opinion was that elections were not possible to carry out in the present circumstances," Lithuanian ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite told reporters.

The ambassador said council members cited tensions in the country, growing unrest and refugee flows as signs that "elections would not be sustainable in that kind of context".


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ethiopia: Ruling party wins majority of parliament seats

Ethiopia's ruling party and its allies have won a large majority in parliament, the country's election board said on Wednesday, based on an early vote count in a weekend election in which opponents complained their supporters were harassed.

Charges of abuse were dismissed by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, leader of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which has been in power for almost 25 years. It was widely expected to sweep the vote.

The EPRDF and its allies have so far won all of 442 seats declared, according to a Reuters tally calculated after election board chairman Merga Bekana read out regional results so far.

The opposition won just one seat in the last parliament.

Source: Reuters

Madagascar: MPs vote to impeach President

Parliamentarians in Madagascar have voted to impeach President Hery Rajaonarimampianina.
The constitutional court will now decide whether he has violated the constitution and can be dismissed.

The BBC's Martin Vogl in the capital, Antananarivo, says the late night vote came as a surprise to many.

Mr Rajaonarimampianina has been in office for 16 months and it was hoped his election would end years of political unrest on the island nation.

Hery Rajaonarimampianina casting his ballot on 20 December 2013 in Antananarivo, Madagascar

Madagascar suffered five years of political turmoil beginning in 2009 when Andry Rajoelina ousted Marc Ravalomanana from power.

The coup left the country isolated in the international community and deprived of foreign aid.
Ahead of the parliamentary vote, the US embassy in Antananarivo urged the MPs to put the stability of the country first.


Guinea: Opposition ignores call for dialogue ahead of elections

So that Alpha Conde had opened the door to dialogue about the disputed election calendar, the opposition leaders denounced a "communication operation" of guinénenne presidency.

Between the two parties, dialogue seems impossible . Guinea's opposition said Tuesday no show "no progress" in the instructions given by President Alpha Conde to start a dialogue on the disputed electoral calendar .

Alpha Conde on Monday asked in a public letter to the head of government Mohamed Said Fofana, to open a dialogue with the opposition and the majority. This mission, entrusted to the Minister of Justice and the Secretary General of the Presidency, aims to "promote the organization of transparent and fair presidential and local elections."

This dialogue would aim in particular at ensuring that "non-elected bodies and local authorities" are only "or a barrier to transparency or disability the fairness of the electoral process." Following his meeting with the President on 20 May, the leader of the opposition, Diallo, said he was "disappointed" that Alpha Condé was, he said, content to listen .

Arm wrestling

"If in this letter to the Prime Minister and two ministers of his government, he gave a possible timetable for meeting and had determined the agenda on which we have been discussing for more than six months with the Minister for Justice, yet they would have been a small step forward, "responded the spokesman of the opposition, Aboubacar Sylla.

"It's a non-event and this is yet another communication operation for passing Alpha Condé for a man of dialogue, intended to clear completely regarding future crises," said the spokesman the opposition. This is to meet on Tuesday to discuss, he also announced.

The announcement comes after two months of standoff between government and opposition, while violent demonstrations left several people dead and dozens wounded in Conakry and several provincial cities.

In an interview earlier this month in Jeune Afrique , the Guinean president had completely ruled out a change in the electoral calendar. But he was open to discussion to ensure non-interference of local executive in the presidential election.

Requested by the opposition?

The opposition demands the cancellation of the electoral calendar that returns the local elections in 2016, after the presidential election whose first round was set for October 11.

She suspects him of wanting to be able to use the communal executives appointed by him, voting fault at this level since 2005, to orchestrate massive fraud, categorically denies that the head of state, ensuring that they will play "no part" in the presidential election.


AU say Ethiopia poll credible, opposition cries foul

 African Union observers said on Tuesday that Ethiopia's parliamentary election held on Sunday was credible except for a few irregularities, but the opposition dismissed the vote as marred by violations including ballot box theft.

Provisional results in Africa' second most populous nation are due later this week and few expect anything but a landslide for the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition, in power since ousting dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who took over after EPRDF's long-serving leader Meles Zenawi died in 2012, has pushed on with EPRDF's highly-centralised statistical economic model credited with turning around the fortunes of a country once ravaged by war and famine.

But the opposition - which has one seat in the outgoing 547-member parliament - accuses the government of crushing dissent, limiting free speech, and muzzling the press. The EPRDF denies this, saying the political space is open for all.

"The African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) concludes that the parliamentary elections were calm, peaceful, and credible as it provided an opportunity for the Ethiopian people to express their choices at the polls," former Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, the head of the AU mission, said.

Pohamba said 59 members from 23 African countries visited 356 polling stations. Ethiopia did not invite Western observers to this election. About 37 million out of Ethiopia's 96 million people registered to vote.

The observers said no major incidents occurred and that they could vouch for the secrecy of the vote in 95% of the polling stations it observed.

However, the mission said that in 21% of all stations it visited, station officers violated rules by failing to display empty ballot boxes before the official start of the elections.

It also noted that a few voting centres had opened ahead of time, though staffers claimed this was due to requests from voters.


Merara Gudina, deputy chairperson of the opposition Medrek coalition dismissed the AU report, claiming the body had failed to report on violations in many constituencies.

Merara told Reuters that security personnel had launched a "witch-hunt" on the eve of the vote by arresting his group's observers. He also said ballot boxes had been stolen in his constituency outside the western town of Ambo some 130km from the capital.

"The whole process was a farce. In my constituency, we do not even know what happened to over 80% of the ballot boxes right after the polls closed, " he said. "It was organised robbery."

The electoral board - which is set to announce provisional results before the end of the week - was not immediately available to comment on the claims.

On the day of the vote Hailemariam rejected opposition claims of foul play.

"They have been campaigning freely. There has not been any repression as far as this is concerned," Hailemariam told Reuters on Sunday in his constituency in Gununo, a town 330km southwest from the capital.

Ethiopia's economy has been one of the fastest growing in Africa and beyond. The World Bank forecasts growth of 10.5% in the year starting in July.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Burundi sets June 26 for presidential elections

Burundi has set June 26 for presidential elections taking a sharp turnaround from the guidance of East African Community member states that polls must be extended so that reconciliation between warring factions takes shape.

Speaking to journalists in Kampala, Burundi’s deputy chief of State protocol, Ambassador Albert Nasasagare said that: “Presidential elections will be held on June 26.”

“I appeal to the people of Burundi to respect the rights of others. When you don’t like a leader, you vote them out — that is what democracy is all about,” he said.

Nasasagare was speaking at a meeting hosted by Pastor Robert Kayanja, the chairman AFRI-AID, an organization that was set up to help people in needy situation.

Jean Bosco Barege, the Burundi Ambassador to Uganda also attended the meeting, which was held at Miracle Center Church in Rubanga.

Pastor Kayanja appealed for calm in Burundi, revealing that shortly after the coup attempt in the country, President Pierre Nkurunziza telephoned him thanking him for praying for Burundi.

Following an attempted coup on May 13, this week Burundi’s political situation erupted again after a key opposition figure, Zedi Feruzi, of the Union for Peace and Development was assassinated on May 24.

Nasasagare said that Government has opened investigations into the assassination of Feruzi and that the culprits will be arrested and paraded in court.

Nkurunziza’s bid to run for a third term has resulted into protests, especially on the streets of Bujumbura.

The protestors say that by Nkurunziza seeking a third term, he is defying the Arusha peace deal that ended the civil war in 2005.

Pastor Kayanja said that the United Nations has already passed $250m (sh750b) for the Burundi crisis.

He, however said that this shows that “someone somewhere is benefiting from the Burundi crisis” because you cannot put a figure to combat a situation when you have not fully assessed its gravity.

“We are praying for Burundi,” he said.

In a communiqué issued shortly after the East African Community meeting over Burundi on May 12, the chairman of the bloc, Jakaya Kikwete, the President of Tanzania, called for a postponement of the elections in Burundi until violence In Burundi.


Burundi: Government condemns foreign pressure over political crisis

Burundi's government on Tuesday condemned mounting diplomatic pressure over President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial bid to stand for a third consecutive term, signalling it would not bow to international criticism.

"The government of Burundi is profoundly preoccupied by the current diplomatic activity which could undermine and denigrate our republican institutions and constitution," government spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba said on state radio.

He said the Burundian government had "red lines", indicating that Nkurunziza was still unwilling to compromise even though the political crisis has already sparked weeks of civil unrest, an attempted coup, a refugee crisis and international isolation.

"Certain questions that touch on our sovereignty, constitution and the primacy of our laws cannot be debated," Nzobonariba said.

"The Burundian government will not negotiate and will not discuss matters that undermine our institutions," he added.

Burundi's crisis, which began after the ruling party nominated Nkurunziza to stand again in the June 26 presidential election, deepened earlier this month when a top general staged a failed coup attempt.

Parliamentary polls, initially set to take place on Tuesday, have been postponed to June 5.

Opposition and rights groups say that Nkurunziza's bid for a third five-year term violates the constitution as well as the terms of a peace deal that ended a 13-year civil war in 2006.

That conflict, marked by brutal ethnic violence between the country's ethnic Hutu and Tutsi communities, left hundreds of thousands dead, and there are fears the latest unrest could plunge the small, landlocked and impoverished nation back into widespread violence.

Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader and born-again Christian, argues that his first term did not count as he was elected by parliament, not directly by the people.

He has so far resisted the protests and international pressure and intends to maintain his bid for another term, for which he has strong support in rural areas and among sections of the Hutu majority.


Zanu PF chickens out of by-elections

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has reportedly chickened out of another potentially expensive round of parliamentary by-elections and instead resorted to “phony suspensions” of “rebel” party officials who under normal circumstances would have been expelled and recalled from Parliament, NewsDay has learnt.


Party sources yesterday also said the suspension route was adopted as a cost-cutting measure after realising that another round of by-elections would drain its coffers as the “witch hunt” of all legislators linked to ousted former Vice-President Joice Mujuru would have exposed nearly 100 MPs.

The sources said the party also feared the prospect of losing some of its key rural seats to independent candidates if it went ahead with plans to expel the so-called Gamatox MPs and recall them from Parliament.

The legislators were accused of fanning factionalism and conniving with Mujuru to overthrow Mugabe.

Zanu PF’s politburo last week expelled seven former ministers and suspended 13 MPs for periods ranging from two to five years, but it has since emerged that the “suspensions” were adopted as a smart way of circumventing a financially-crippling snap poll that would have drained both the party and government’s resources.

Instead, the party would now have to contend with only three fresh by-elections to fill the seats left vacant by the expulsion of former Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, ex-Mashonaland East chairperson Ray Kaukonde and Mbire MP David Butau.

“The politburo realised that the party, like all other institutions in the country, is financially troubled and would not be able to fund almost half a general election. You will realise that the by-elections caused by the MDC-T move to recall Renewal MPs is estimated to cost about $50 million. The country would need another $50 million or even more if Zanu PF followed the same route and recalled MPs while the parties would require more for campaigns,” impeccable sources said.

Zanu PF is currently seized with campaigns for 14 by-election seats that fell vacant after the main opposition MDC-T recalled its former MPs accusing them of crossing the floor to join the MDC Renewal Team. The by-elections, which have been boycotted by the MDCs, have been slated for June 10.

“It was, therefore, resolved that we would rather suspend these members, but let them hold their seats until the next general election, but they will not be allowed to take part in the 2018 polls.”

If Zanu PF had taken the route of expelling all legislators linked to the Mujuru faction, the axe would have fallen on several former key officials among them Nicholas Goche, Amos Midzi, Tendai Savanhu, Munacho Mutezo, Christopher Chigumba, Enoch Porusingazi, Callisto Gwanetsa, Chiratidzo Mabuwa and Tranos Huruba, to name but a few.

Contacted for comment over the issue yesterday, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo, however, said: “I would not be able to comment on issues of finances. The secretary for finance (Obert Mpofu) would know better. We suspended members from their positions and they will remain card-carrying members of the party. They were not expelled.”

Asked to explain what the suspension meant, Khaya Moyo became evasive, saying: “It means they are suspended from their positions and not the party, but they will retain their seats and revert to being ordinary card-carrying members.”

Khaya Moyo said the next politburo meeting would consider suspensions of more members mainly from Matabeleland North, South, Mashonaland West and Bulawayo where the likes of former Cabinet minister Francis Nhema, ex-deputy ministers Fortune Chasi, Sylvester Nguni, Simbaneuta Mudarikwa, Paul Chimedza and Tongai Muzenda likely to be affected.

By-elections: Zimbabweans pay for internal political party rows

THE current internal Zanu PF and MDC internal squabbles have come at a huge cost to the country with struggling tax payers forced to bear the pain financing successive by-elections, political analysts have observed.

Government is struggling for money, a crunch that forced finance minister Patrick Chinamasa to suspend payment of bonuses to state workers until 2017 before he was rudely overruled for political reasons by President Robert Mugabe.

A raging battle for control of Zanu PF by rival factions have seen party members, among them sitting MPs linked to ousted Vice President Joice Mujuru abruptly thrown out of the party for allegedly conspiring to overthrow President Robert Mugabe.

Similarly, the March recall of 21 MDC-T MPs who jumped ship to operate under the partially formed UMDC party saw the opening up of 14 vacancies to be filled in the June 10 by-elections.

More by-elections are seen coming after Zanu PF moved to both expel and suspend several senior members including nearly a dozen of its MPs, with threats of more dismissals in the offing.

According to ZEC estimates, it costs a whopping US$2 million to run a by-election per constituency with strong indications that government was improvising to finance current by-elections as the 2015 national budget did not factor in the running of the polls.

But analysts say while it is a constitutional requirement for the country to call for by-elections when there is such need, the current round of the mini-polls is a result of internal squabbles that unnecessarily overburden the tax payer.

Top academic and opposition Democratic Party leader Wurayayi Zembe rued what he said was a constitution imposed on citizens by the political elite saying it has allowed disagreements in political organisations to destabilise the running of the government.

"We are very worried because that has created an unnecessary instability in the country in terms of the governance, the national institutions like the executive, the legislature, and judiciary," he told weekend.

Economic strain

Zembe also said the current squabbles in the ruling party have caused too much anxiety among sitting MPs who view themselves as targets of the Zanu PF purge, in the process abandoning their tasks.

"People vote MPs into office so that their interests can be catered for," he said.

"These include the interest of running the state; health, education, roads, providing jobs, health and water but all that is not happening because of the instability caused by purely organisational problems.

"By-elections are also drawing from the meagre fiscal resources but the worst problem is that of instability which is going to cause more social risks in the country."

Harare based political analyst Masimba Kuchera admitted there were constitutional obligations to be met in by-elections but was quick to say the strain to the economy was worsened by the habitual mismanagement of the economy by the Zanu PF led government.

"It's a constitutional requirement but clearly why this becomes a problem is that the economy is being mismanaged to a point where the monies that are then used for by-elections can be better used elsewhere.

"That is why it now seems like a burden to the tax payer," he said.

Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo could not be reached for comment but MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu distanced his party from the rot saying the expelled MDC-T parliamentarians triggered their own dismissal after defecting.

He however, admitted this has come at a cost to the country.

"It's unfortunate that at a time when the economy is on its knees we are having by-elections galore but that is a problem of Zanu PF because it is Zanu PF that will recall several members of parliament and have threatened to recall even more."


Ethiopia: Votes counting underway after parliamentary election

Ethiopia has started counting the votes after Sunday’s elections.

Provisional results should emerge within a few days and the final result is expected to be announced in June.

The country’s ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is widely expected to win a landslide victory. It has overseen the nation’s transformation after a devastating famine to one that attracts foreign investors.

The EPRDF boasts about delivering strength to one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ethiopia votes on Sunday, May 24

Ethiopia is set to hold its fifth legislative election on Sunday, in which 58 parties will vie for 547 seats in parliament and for seats on the country's regional state councils.

The total number of registered Ethiopian voters stands at 36.8 million in a county of 90 million. Around 48 percent of eligible voters are female.

As many as 58 political parties are competing in the elections at both federal and state levels.

Contesting parties have fielded a total of 5,819 candidates who will vie for seats in the country's federal parliament and state councils.

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) said preliminary election results would be announced five days after Election Day. Final results will be disclosed on June 22.

According to the NEBE, some 45,000 polling stations have been set up countrywide.

The ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which won the past four elections, has fielded a total of 1,350 candidates – many more than those being fielded by any of the country's opposition parties.

The Ethiopian parliament uses a simple majority system, with the party that wins the most seats appointing a prime minster and new government that will be drawn up in early October.

In 2005 polls, Ethiopian opposition parties won 30 percent of the seats in parliament, along with the Addis Ababa city administration.

At the time, however, they refused to join the assembly.

Following opposition claims that the election was rigged, violent demonstrations rocked capital Addis Ababa, leaving hundreds of people dead.

In 2010 polls, the ruling party took 99.6 percent of the seats in the assembly – a result that opposition parties described as "controversial."

Ethiopia's parliamentary system guarantees an unlimited term in office to the country's prime minister, while limiting the president to two terms of 12 years each.

Incumbent Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn succeeded the late Meles Zenawi, a longtime leader of the EPRDF.

EPRDF leaders say they are confident of winning the election, while opposition parties voice concern that the polls will be rigged – despite assertions by the NEBE that it would work to ensure fair and transparent polls.

This year's election will be conducted in the absence of any prominent foreign observers.

The EU and the U.S.-based Carter Center, which had observed previous Ethiopian elections, will not send monitors to next month's polls.

The African Union and the Civil Society Association, a local NGO, are both set to deploy a significant number of observers, with the latter planning to send nearly 40,000 observers.

Malawi: Watchdog ays Malawi's presidential elections were nneither credible nor fair

By Geoffrey Banda
As a solid year gone since Malawi's ever 2014 Tripartite Election, a new civil society report describes it as "Neither Fair nor Credible".

The report titled Election Situation Room: Analysis of the 2014 Tripartite Elections in Malawi which has just been launched is among other things calling for reforms in the country's electoral processes and systems including enhancing the independence and technical capacity of the Malawi Election Commission (MEC).

According to the report the elections were neither fair nor credible due to abuse of state resources by the incumbent and flaws in the voter's roll, poor management of the voting process and announcement of results.

The report finds that most of the challenges experienced in the 2014 elections have been experienced in previous elections, but due to lack of political will there has been a failure to put corrective measures in place.

It further states that the power of incumbency and its associated advantages severely hindered the players' ability to seize the opportunity.

"Use of state resources, acts of patronage, gift giving, rewards to chiefs and other civic readers created an environment in which the incumbents both at presidential and parliamentary levels, were duly advantaged that those in the opposition and newcomers in the race", reads part of the report.

On other hand, the report states that the elections were free because those qualified to vote were accorded the opportunity to exercise their right with considerable efforts put in place to remove obstacles.

When Malawi24 wanted to know how the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) rated the report, Commissioner Reverend Emmanuel Chimkwita Phiri described it as helpful and will assist in reformation of electoral system in the country.

"We have received this report gladly, as MEC we are happy working with organizations like these ones in Malawi because when we have more actors they see more areas that we don't see", said Chimkwita.

Steve Duwa, chairperson for MESN said a report carries clear picture of what was happening on the ground during all electoral processes and it is described as Neither Fair nor Credible because of questionability of some of the processes.

"Election Situation Room: Analysis of the 2014 Tripartite Elections in Malawi report" is a summary of findings of the Malawi Election Information Centre (MEIC) an initiative of a coalition of civil society organizations (CSOs) with a common interest in collaborating on activities related to the 2014 tripartite elections, led by the Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN).

Libyan: Islamist leader proposes elections to end conflict

Fresh elections are the only way to end conflict in Libya where two governments and parliaments are competing for power and the country's oil wealth, an influential Islamist supporter of a self-declared government in Tripoli said.

Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni's internationally recognised government and elected parliament have operated out of eastern Libya since a rival armed faction called Libya Dawn took over Tripoli in August and set up its own government.

The United Nations has been hosting talks to persuade the rival factions to form a national government, four years after the civil war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

But progress has been slow as both sides want their own parliament - the House of Representatives in Tobruk or its predecessor, the General National Congress in the capital, Tripoli - to form any such unity cabinet.

"The Libyan people should elect new personalities to represent them. I think this is a very appropriate solution," said Khalid Sherif, a former deputy defence minister. "This is a national solution," he told Reuters in an interview.

Sherif fought Soviet troops in Afghanistan and sought to overthrow Gaddafi in 1990s before joining Libya's 2011 uprising. He remains an influential figure in the Islamist camp backing the Tripoli government.

He said the mandate of the Tobruk-based assembly would end by law in October, opening the way to a new vote as compromise. Both sides would have to agree on a ceasefire until a vote could take place in October.

"We ask the international community to oversee the elections so there is no forgery," Sherif said. "All sides should oversee the elections in all areas of Libya."

The House of Representatives was elected in June 2014, in a vote marred by a low turnout, for 18 months during which a proposal for a constitution was meant to be put up for vote.

That plan was derailed by the fighting, and a committee is still working on a constitutional proposal.

"There is a wish from all sides for dialogue," said Sherif.

Both side blame each other for the conflict. Thinni says Libya Dawn's attack on Tripoli in July sent Libya into turmoil.

Libya Dawn say it was army general Khalifa Haftar who had started the violence in May 2014 by launching his own war on Islamists in Benghazi.


Benin: Election of new chairman of the national assembly: a beautiful lesson in democracy

In the wake of the recent parliamentary elections in Benin, the office of the National Assembly has a new face: that of Adrien Houngbedji, an old fighter of Beninese politics. At 74, he operates a comeback flawless, the front row of the Office of the national representation.

The presidential movement now knows the pain of grief skin, she has only 33 seats out of the 83 that make up the Assembly. Anything that allows today's opposition legitimately bomber chest and end any attempt to tamper with the Constitution (if they still had the desire) by the zealots and courtiers Yayi Boni.

Surely, that's saying that the Beninese democracy comes, once again, to be well lustrous by the Beninese opposition that comes from trouncing the presidential camp and also just placed on the pedestal of the Assembly a figure as iconic as that of Adrien Houngbedji.

Beninese are today more than yesterday, assured that 2016 will be a new beginning for other challenges, those of development and democracy. Benin, a small country with great democracy, one might say.

It was he who, in the early 90s, opened the floodgates of democracy with its national conference that has authority over the African continent. Cotonou remains true to its enfant terrible tradition of democracy in Africa, in the best sense of the expression.

The reasons are that this country has a quality of opposition that can do around the critical chorus in the best interests of the country. It also has a stubborn civil society, in the best sense of the term. All this is perhaps not surprising.

The Benin was not it the Latin Quarter of Africa? Its political culture is not usurped. In any case, we want to say that Benin just got illustrated by a major political innovation that contrasts with the habits in the fight for democratic change.

In Cotonou, it has been caused not by the street and violence, as in Ouagadougou, nor the voluntary renunciation of power by the ruling prince or even a coup, but by the ratio of political forces in the National Assembly. The credit goes to all: the head of state, the presidential party, the opposition and civil society. Benin does not betray its democratic reputation compass continent.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ivory Coast: Coalition partners to merge after elections

The two main parties in Ivory Coast's ruling coalition will merge after elections later this year, aiming to consolidate support for President Alassane Ouattara. Ex-president Laurent Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front- the West African nation's third major party and its only opposition movement - is on the verge of breaking up due to disputes within its leadership.

Former President Henri Konan Bedie, who heads the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast, said a working group had been set up to prepare its fusion with Ouattara's Rally of the Republicans after the October polls.

by Wochit

Ivory Coast: Opposition forms coalition for October elections

Ivory Coast politicians on Friday launched an opposition coalition ahead of October presidential elections as crowds chanted the name of ex-strongman Laurent Gbagbo, currently awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court.

More than 1,000 people, including political heavyweights, attended the launch at an Abidjan hotel, with the coalition's charter calling for Gbagbo to be freed along with others it labelled "political prisoners."

It also called for the dissolution of the current electoral commission amid claims it is biased in favour of President Alassane Ouattara, who will be seeking re-election and is the only major candidate in the race so far ahead of the October vote.

Former prime minister Charles Konan Banny and the ex-president of the National Assembly, Mamadou Koulibaly, were among those at the first meeting of the National Coalition for Change launched on Friday.

Long-time leader Gbagbo's refusal to concede defeat to Ouattara after 2010 elections sparked a bloody five-month standoff in which some 3,000 people died, according to the United Nations.

Gbagbo, held in The Hague since his transfer to the ICC's detention unit in late November 2011, will go on trial in November for his alleged role in the violence.


Ethiopian: No western observers for elections

The only international observers during Ethiopia’s elections Sunday will be from the African Union, with opposition parties already feeling the AU observers are not demanding enough in their criticism of Ethiopia's election process, which is dominated by the ruling party.

Nine long-term AU observers (LTOs) arrived in April, and another 50 short-term observers arrived last week.

Former Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, head of the mission, commended Ethiopia for being stable and peaceful even while located in a volatile region.

“The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia is appointed by the prime minister and approved by the parliament of Ethiopia. The AU LTOs noted that some interlocutors have expressed the concern in the manner of the appointment of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia and urged that more political stakeholders be consulted in order for the process to be more transparent and inclusive," Pohamba said.

Anti-terrorism law

The long-term observers also raised concerns about Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law and how it could be used to undermine freedom of expression and the media’s right to protection of their sources and rights.

The long-term observers of the African Union have so far visited 20 districts in eight regions and will leave after the first week of June.

But opposition parties are not impressed with the African Union observers.

Blue Party spokesman Yonathan Tesfaye said, "We don’t think the AU is an international observer, it’s a legitimacy of dictatorship. It's just a cover. You have the U.S. who refused one way or another, you have the EU who somehow admitted that the previous observations [hadn't] done anything.”

Ethiopia’s last elections in 2010 were observed by a European Union mission. The The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) party won those elections in a landslide, taking all but one seat in parliament.

According to a recent European Union statement, the EU decided to sit out this year's elections because its previous recommendations to Ethiopia were not accepted.

Government spokesman Redwan Hussein said there was a difference of opinion between the Ethiopian government and the final recommendations of the EU mission.

'Nothing to do with elections'

“Whatever prescription they made, it had nothing to do with the election. It has to do with the entire democratic system, and legal system and policy issues. So we didn’t subscribe to that subscription because it has nothing to do with elections," Hussein said.

Nearly 37 million Ethiopians are registered for the Sunday elections. More than 5,800 candidates from 58 political parties are running for parliament and regional offices.

Fewew than 1,300 of the candidates are female -- a situation the African Union attributes to a lack of resources and lack of encouragement in Ethiopia's culture.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ethiopian: Opposition urges supporters to vote in the general election without fear

Ethiopian opposition parties encouraged their supporters to vote, and break the barrier of intimidation and repression.

For the 2005 elections, Ethiopia’s government opened up the political arena. But when the united opposition received more votes than the ruling party expected, the government was accused of stealing back the elections and mass demonstrations against the final results turned violent. Now that there is a new prime minister, what do the opposition leaders from 10 years ago expect in the 2015 elections?

During Ethiopia’s 2005 elections, political parties campaigned freely and held lively debates with little or no government interference.

The country’s mood, however, turned sour after the elections, when results were delayed, the government claimed victory and protesters took to the streets. Clashes between demonstrators and police led to the deaths of nearly 200 people.

Hailu Shawul was an opposition leader for the All Ethiopia Unity Party in 2005 and 2010. He said the political environment changed radically after the 2005 vote.

“They wouldn’t let anybody campaign really. Before that, they block your road, before you start they cancel your meeting. So even the election process was so skewed. The papers, they were already marked. So where is the election? The rural areas is all occupied by the cadres of the ruling party. If anybody, a group of people, talk to an opposition they are in jail the next day,” Hailu said.

Hailu, together with many other opposition leaders, was imprisoned for two years after they decided not to take their seats in parliament as they felt the government had stolen the elections.

Opposition leader Lidetu Ayalew contested the 2005 election with EDP, the Ethiopia Democratic Party, and is still on its national board. He said he felt the government always tried to win through intimidation, but changed its target after 2005.

“Five, 10 years ago the strategy of the ruling party was intimidating the party members or the candidates. Now that has been changed since 2010. So they try to intimidate the voters by going in every part of the country,” said Lidetu.

The 2010 vote ended with opposition parties holding only a single seat in parliament.

Lidetu said it is easy for the government to influence the population, as many Ethiopians are directly dependent on the government for their livelihoods.

“The land is owned by the government, if they stood against the government, they think that they will lose their land. When you come to the urban area, it is the government who employs people in mass, most people are civil servants because the private sector is not that much vibrant. Most of the cities, most of the houses are owned by the government. So those people who are living there are highly vulnerable for government influence,” Lidetu said.

Professor Beyene Petros has been in politics since Ethiopia’s transitional government in 1991. He was elected to parliament in 2000 and 2005 and is currently the chairman of Medrek, a coalition of four opposition parties.

His constituency is Hadiya, about 190 kilometers southwest of capital city, Addis Ababa. He said his constituency is full of government special forces troops, wielding machine guns to intimidate voters. Still, he said, he expects the opposition to win at least a few seats in the May 24 elections.

“The 2010 kind of declaration of victory would not convince anyone, that EPRDF wins all that. They may play a game now where they may allow some of these loyal parties, some of them may sneak through. Some few seats maybe gained also by Medrek; but, that will not depict reality or will not match our capacity,” Beyene stated.

Beyene said that despite the steep uphill battle, it is important for opposition parties to stay active. “The purpose why you are running is, we want to do the politics. Even if you don’t win, we want to do the politics,” Beyene noted. “We want to defeat EPRDF. I mean they can grab the electoral things, but we will come out with the political superiority.”

The ruling party has denied any allegations of systematic intimidating opposition parties, members and supporters.

Over 36 million Ethiopians have registered to vote this Sunday. The only international observers present will be from the African Union.


Ethiopia: Newest opposition party builds its base among urban youth

The leader of Ethiopia's newest opposition party hopes discontent among urban youth will win him support in a weekend election that could otherwise be a clean sweep for the ruling party in Africa's most populous nation after Nigeria.

Over 36 million people have registered for the May 24 polls, the country's first election since long-serving leader Meles Zenawi died in 2012.

His Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has been in power for almost a quarter of a century, and faces no reasonable prospect of defeat – the current 547-seat parliament has just one opposition member.

Yilekal Getinet, chairman of the three-year old Blue Party, or Semayawi in Amharic, says it originally put forward 400 candidates but electoral authorities cut the list to 139.

Semayawi expects to win seats in the urban areas in spite of such obstacles.

"The people's anger is increasing from time to time. By the strong opposition from the people and demands for further changes we may win in towns," he said.

Semayawi, which wants less government involvement in the economy, sees itself as offering change in Ethiopian politics, with the vast majority of its members younger than 35.

Some 57 opposition parties are taking part in the polls but analysts say they present no real threat.

The opposition won an unprecedented 147 seats in an election 10 years ago but most of them did not join parliament, alleging the ballot had been rigged. Many of then spent two years behind bars on charges of inciting violence.


Yilekal says over 50 party members have been detained by police, and accuses the government of unfairly allocating financial resources to the ruling party and depriving opposition parties of television air time, claims rejected by authorities.

Yilekal's name will not be on the ballot after he was disqualified by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), which ran a draw to pick candidates for 52 parties that had never taken part in an election.

NEBE chairperson Merga Bekana said most of Semayawi's candidates had broken electoral rules by belonging to another party, adding the board had been tough on all sides.

Two ruling party members have been arrested in recent days on charges of breaking the law, Merga said, adding the environment was "conducive" to open politics.

Yilekal was not reassured. "There may be an increment in some numbers but that does not show that Ethiopia is in a democratic process. The whole process is deteriorating," he said. (Editing by Ed Cropley and Dominic Evans)

Ethiopia: 59 AU observers arrive parliamentary elections

The African Union (AU) has deployed a group of 59 short and long-term election observers mission to oversee the May 24 parliamentary elections in Ethiopia.

Officials at the Ethiopian electoral board on Tuesday told Sudan Tribune that the African observers will be deployed to various regions of the country hence they are briefed on the electoral laws. The African Union Electoral Observation Mission (AUEOM) is led by former Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba. The observers’ mission will remain in the horn of Africa’s nation until June 7.

“The Mission shall provide an objective, independent and impartial assessment of the conduct of the elections in line with the aforementioned international and regional best practices and standards,” the AU said in a statement released last week.

Also, the monitors will meet with government and electoral officials, candidates, political parties, civil society representatives and media to provide a critical assessment of the conduct of elections. Some 6,000 parliamentary candidates fielded by 58 political parties will contest for the 547 seat parliament which currently all its seats are occupied by the ruling party except two seats.

The parliamentary election will be Ethiopia’s fifth since the fall of the former dictatorial of the Derg regime in 1991. The current polls will also be the first since the current prime minister; Hailemariam Desalegn assumed office in September 2012 after his predecessor the late premier Meles Zenawi passed away.

The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) party has claimed victory during all the previous four elections.Under the rule of EPRDF, Ethiopia has saw tremendous economic stride with an average growth of 10%, making the East African nation one of the 10 fastest growing countries in the world.

However the government has done little to improve human rights and press freedom and it is often labelled by international right groups as one of the worst worldwide. Nearly 35 million eligible voters have been registered across the nation, according to figures from the Ethiopian Electoral Board.

Ethiopians go to polls five years, in line with the national constitution.


Ethiopia: PM faces first election ever

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who assumed power in 2012 after the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, has never had to participate in an election before.

He took over the office and the leadership of the ruling party, the EPRDF, after the death of Zenawi, who ruled the East African nation for 21 years.

Special Adviser to the Prime Minister Getachew Redda had already worked closely with Hailemariam when he was Minister of Foreign Affairs. He described Ethiopia’s leader as dedicated and committed.

“The first achievement that Hailemariam has is as leader of EPRDF," he said. "He presided over an organization, which many thought would be in crisis following the death of an important [figure] such as Meles Zenawi. So that by itself is an important achievement on his right.”

Ethiopia will be voting Sunday, May 24. It is widely expected that the ruling party — the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democracy Front — will win for the fifth consecutive time and that Hailemariam will continue in his current position.

Parliament member Girma Seifu of opposition party UDJ, Unity for Democracy and Justice, experienced both Meles and the current prime minister.

He said he was optimistic when Hailemariam assumed office.

“The very good reason that makes me optimist was his civil nature, because he was not in the fight with the Derg regime," Girma said. "Rather he was a civil employee in the Derg regime. So that he has no negative attitude or any other revenge mentality.”

Meles came to power in 1991 after being part of the guerilla movement that overthrew the former Derg regime, a military junta led by Mengistu Hailemariam.

Desalegn was not part of the struggle. He trained as an engineer and worked as a university dean and administrator of the Southern Regions in Ethiopia before becoming a special adviser to Meles and then foreign minister in 2010.

He also comes from a small Southern ethnic group, the Wolayta. He is openly Protestant in a party with a communist background and in a country where most citizens are Orthodox or Muslim.

Despite his different background, opposition leader Girma said Hailemariam did not meet his expectations:

“In all matters, he didn’t make any change in the Ethiopian democratic process," Girma said. "So he failed us.”

During pre-election weeks in Ethiopia, there are no large posters with the prime minister's face around the capital city, Addis Ababa.

Political analyst Hallelujah Lulie of the Institute for Security Studies says that while Meles essentially led the government on his own, a collective leadership was put in place after Hailemariam was inaugurated in 2012.

Therefore he believes it is too early to clearly define what kind of leader the current prime minister is.

“Now I see Hailemariam as a person who is just finishing and serving another person's term," he said. "So if Hailemariam comes out, I think we should judge his legacy, his competence and accomplishments after the formation of the new government, after the election. Now I think his major priority, I believe, at this specific point is continuity.”

Ethiopia’s government policy is focused on an agricultural-led economic transformation aimed at lifting the country to middle-income status by 2025.

Special adviser Getachew said no major changes should be expected if the EPRDF rules for another five years. He said the current policies are working.

Ethiopia is the second most populated country in Africa after Nigeria. It is the seat of the African Union and is often applauded for its economic performance and military intervention against the militant group al-Shabab in neighboring Somalia.

At the same time, almost 30 percent of its citizens live below the poverty line,  according to the United Nations Development Program. And international organizations frequently criticize the government for repressing critical voices.

Burundi: Delaying the elections in Burundi could be the best way to avoid fueling ethnic tensions

The situation in Burundi is deteriorating drastically with growing fears the government of embattled president Pierre Nkurunziza is trying to divide the country along ethnic lines.

While the protests against Nkurunziza, who comes from the Hutu ethnic group, began in opposition to his pursuit of a third term, the New York Times reports that some government officials are starting to suggest the coup attempt was led by Tutsis. A BBC reporter also tweeted that a government spokesman has implied protests, which continue in Bujumbura today, are happening in Tutsi-dominated areas.

Burundi has been bedeviled by ethnic strife in the past between the Tutsis and the Hutus. The last such conflict lead to more than a decade of fighting that left hundreds of thousands dead. The current crisis has caused the deaths of 20 people with over 100,000 fleeing the country to escape the violence.

And there is growing concern that without serious international intervention things could get even worse.

“It is a very dangerous situation. We’re hearing from a lot of people in the country that they are extremely scared,” Tom Malinowski, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor told Politico. “This is a country that has experienced mass atrocities and mass killings in the past, and all of the ingredients that experience has taught us to look for…are there.”
In his first public appearance since surviving a coup attempt, president Nkurunziza on Sunday neglected to discuss the crisis. He instead read a statement to the press where he puzzlingly warned his people against an Islamist threat.

It is true that Burundi has sent forces to Somalia as part of the African Union contingent fighting against al-Shabab to help stabilize the country. Yet, there aren’t that many people outside of Nkurunziza’s circle suggesting that the current crisis in Bujumbura is due to the threat of terrorism. All this began after Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term, something the opposition says is against the country’s constitution.

Raising the specter of al-Shabab appears to be a cynical attempt by Nkurunziza to use the national security card to justify what could be brutal efforts to suppress the protests against him. Recriminations have already started, with the sacking of the defense and foreign ministers.
Regional leaders are calling on Nkurunziza to postpone the elections scheduled for July. A spokesman to Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta told Reuters that he and his counterparts in the region believe that a “conducive environment” is needed for the polls to go ahead. South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma reiterated this sentiment, following a summit in Angola with the Great Lakes leaders. In a statement, Zuma also said that a delegation of East African community leaders will travel to Bujumbura to try and calm the situation. He did not specify when.

Burundi, a small land-locked country in east Africa, is one of the poorest in the world with a population of a little over 10 million and an annual GDP of $2.7 billion, according to the World Bank. Yet, an ethnic conflict there could have untold repercussions for the region. Leaders from neighboring countries would prefer a election delay for now so cooler heads can prevail.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Guinea: Opposition vows more protests unless president backs down

Guinea’s opposition leader pledged to continue the protests in which at least four people have been killed unless President Alpha Conde allows prompt local elections.

Cellou Dalien Diallo said Conde had broken a 2013 U.N.-brokered deal with the opposition to organize long-overdue municipal polls before a presidential vote set for October.

The opposition accuses Conde of packing local authorities with his supporters after the five-year mandate of elected officials expired in 2010. Diallo said those officials are campaigning on Conde's behalf, making fair elections impossible.

Before talks with Diallo on Wednesday, the president has ruled out holding local elections before October, citing a decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) that doing so would require postponing the presidential vote.

Recent protests have sparked fears of a return to the violence of 2013. More than 50 people were killed then before legislative elections in which Conde’s RPG failed to win a majority. The violence deterred investors from the Guinea, a former French colony of 12 million people and the world’s largest bauxite exporter.

“We will carry on with our demonstrations because it is illegal what Conde is doing and it is unfair,” Diallo said in a weekend interview. "I will tell him that this electoral calendar violates the constitution ... and the electoral code."

The rise in tensions comes as the country tries to end the worst outbreak of Ebola ever recorded. The disease has killed more than 11,000 people in Guinea, neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Politics are divided along ethnic lines. Diallo comes from the Peulh tribe, Guinea's largest, whose control over the economy has stirred resentment among some other ethnic groups. Conde comes from the Malinke, the second-largest ethnic group, but has rejected accusations of exploiting ethnicity.

Diallo has alleged fraud in the 2010 presidential election – Guinea’s first democratic vote since independence from France in 1958 – after he won 44 percent of the vote in the first round only to see Conde snatch a surprise victory in the runoff.

“This time, the parties of the opposition will support whichever opposition candidate reaches the second round ,because we're all fighting for change,” Diallo said, adding that he was determined to win October's vote.

The opposition protests were being fueled by frustration over stagnant growth, high unemployment, crumbling infrastructure and graft, Diallo said.

The International Monetary Fund said economic growth slowed to 1.1 percent last year and it forecast zero growth this year amid a slump in metals prices. The finance minister told Reuters in March that economic losses from Ebola may total $2 billion.

Last year, Guinea ranked 145th of 175 countries in Transparency International’s rankings of corruption perceptions, an improvement from 164th when Conde won power in 2010.

Diallo said mining investors had been deterred by Conde's decision to hand the state a larger share of new projects.

“I would liberalize the mining sector while protecting the interest of Guineans," said Diallo, a trained economist. "There will be no investment if there are no profits for investors.”

(Reporting by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Larry King)


Monday, May 18, 2015

Guinea: Opposition vows more protests unless president backs down

Guinea’s opposition leader pledged to continue the protests in which at least four people have been killed unless President Alpha Conde allows prompt local elections.

Cellou Dalien Diallo said Conde had broken a 2013 U.N.-brokered deal with the opposition to organise long-overdue municipal polls before a presidential vote set for October.

The opposition accuses Conde of packing local authorities with his supporters after the five-year mandate of elected officials expired in 2010. Diallo said those officials are campaigning on Conde's behalf, making fair elections impossible.

Before talks with Diallo on Wednesday, the president has ruled out holding local elections before October, citing a decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) that doing so would require postponing the presidential vote.

Recent protests have sparked fears of a return to the violence of 2013. More than 50 people were killed then before legislative elections in which Conde’s RPG failed to win a majority. The violence deterred investors from the Guinea, a former French colony of 12 million people and the world’s largest bauxite exporter.

“We will carry on with our demonstrations because it is illegal what Conde is doing and it is unfair,” Diallo said in a weekend interview. "I will tell him that this electoral calendar violates the constitution ... and the electoral code."

The rise in tensions comes as the country tries to end the worst outbreak of Ebola ever recorded. The disease has killed more than 11,000 people in Guinea, neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Politics are divided along ethnic lines. Diallo comes from the Peulh tribe, Guinea's largest, whose control over the economy has stirred resentment among some other ethnic groups. Conde comes from the Malinke, the second-largest ethnic group, but has rejected accusations of exploiting ethnicity.

Diallo has alleged fraud in the 2010 presidential election – Guinea’s first democratic vote since independence from France in 1958 – after he won 44 percent of the vote in the first round only to see Conde snatch a surprise victory in the runoff.

“This time, the parties of the opposition will support whichever opposition candidate reaches the second round ,because we're all fighting for change,” Diallo said, adding that he was determined to win October's vote.

The opposition protests were being fuelled by frustration over stagnant growth, high unemployment, crumbling infrastructure and graft, Diallo said.

The International Monetary Fund said economic growth slowed to 1.1 percent last year and it forecast zero growth this year amid a slump in metals prices. The finance minister told Reuters in March that economic losses from Ebola may total $2 billion.

Last year, Guinea ranked 145th of 175 countries in Transparency International’s rankings of corruption perceptions, an improvement from 164th when Conde won power in 2010.

Diallo said mining investors had been deterred by Conde's decision to hand the state a larger share of new projects.

“I would liberalise the mining sector while protecting the interest of Guineans," said Diallo, a trained economist. "There will be no investment if there are no profits for investors.”

Seychelles: Year-round registration starts as new elections act comes into force

A new voter registration system begins today, Monday May 18, allowing year-round voter registration and inspection of the electoral roll.

This follows the implementation of new elections regulations, as the amended Elections Act of 2014 along with the amended Political (Registration and Regulation) Act 2014 came into effect on Friday May 15, as they were published in Official Gazette, by the order of the Seychelles President James Michel.

Amendments to the Elections Act and the Political Parties Act were passed in the National Assembly in December last year after which it was assented by the President.However, the commencement date was not specified until now, in a bid to give the Seychelles Electoral Commission enough time to organize the necessary logistics to implement the changes to the elections act.

The provision for year-round voter registration and inspection of the electoral roll is only one of the changes that feature in either the new Election law or the amended Political Parties act.

Other main changes include new rules for financing of political parties, the members involved in the executive committees of political parties as well as the time of the cooling off period.

Most of the changes are recommendations that came out from the Electoral Commission’s engagement with various stakeholders including the general public.

There was also the Electoral Reform Forum (ERF), an exercise that started late 2011, involving members of the Electoral Commission (EC), representatives of political parties, the civil society as well as a representative of the Office of the Attorney General.

Apart from allowing the all year voter registration process which replaces the over 20 year practice of having a two-week window for registration every January, copies of the Register of Voters will also be made available at every district administration offices across the country as well as at the archives section at the National Library Building in the capital of Victoria and to each registered political parties.

Previously the name of a citizen who would be turning 18 years on any day within fifteen months from January was automatically added to the register. However under the amended law, now a person will have to personally register as a voter only if he/she is aged 18 years and above.

“The onus is now on the voters to come and register…People who want to vote will have to register, if they do not register they will not vote,” said Beatty Hoareau, a member of the Electoral Commission during a meeting with the media on Friday regarding changes to the Elections Act which followed a similar briefing with representatives of the various registered political parties in the country.

While the new law also makes provision for the publication of certified Register of Voters by March 31 each year, in the event that an election is called before the certification of the register or if there is a by-election a revised register will have to be certified.

“…once the Electoral Commission announces by Gazette the date of the election, that date that will be cut off date for registration, we stop registering people on that day and any verification that we have done until then will be included in what we call the revised register,” explained the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Hendrick Gappy.

Registration of voters shall resume only the day after election results have been announced.
Qualified voters are nevertheless being cautioned not to wait for the last minute even though the voter register will remain open all year round because if an election is called and the required timeframe needed, for example, to verify their registration details including if there has been an objection is not available, that person will not be allowed to vote.

To facilitate the year round process, five registration centres become operational today and will be open during working hours from 9.00 am to 3.00pm from Monday to Friday as stipulated by the ammended elections act. One is located at the Electoral Commission’s office mainly for the central districts of the Seychelles main island of Mahé. The other four will be located at Beau Vallon for the northern region districts, Anse Aux Pins for eastern coast districts, Anse Royale for Southern Mahé districts and Anse Boileau for Western Mahé districts.

A registration centre will also be open on the Seychelles second most populated island of Praslin for the two districts on the island and one on La Digue for this third most populated island as well as other inner islands of the Indian Ocean archipelago.

While qualified voters will be able to verify their names in all of the 25 electoral districts it is only at the registration centres that people will be able to make objections, register as new voters, transfer from one electoral area to another and make changes to personal information.

A new provision in the electoral law has also been made to enable the Seychellois living abroad to register and to vote. However, this will require certain conditions.
For example, they should hold a national identity card and they must have spent at least three months in the country before they can register.

Another amendment made states that detained persons, either in holding cells or prisoners awaiting trial or who are serving prison sentences of less than six months can also register to vote.

The Electoral Commission confirmed that it has had to appoint some new staff members to implement the new changes starting with a new Chief Registration Officer Lorna Lepathy who has replaced the previous Chief Registration officer, Jenny Adrienne, who has retired.

On top of that Gappy said nine new registration and assistant registration officers have also been recruited and trained, while adding that the commission has embarked on a process and will see as things progress if more people will need to come onboard.

“We are prepared if people come to register…If the transactions are on the increase we will do the necessary to recruit more,” said Gappy.
The number of registered voters to date is 72,200 out of the Seychelles population of around 90,000.
The next presidential and parliamentary elections are both scheduled for 2016. Recently there has been a lot of speculations about the elections being held before the end of 2015.


Burundi: Government deploys army to suppress protests after coup attempt

 Heavily armed soldiers were deployed in Burundi's capital on Monday to quell persistent street protests against the president's bid for a third term, which sparked a coup attempt that was foiled last week.

In Bujumbura's Musaga neighborhood armed soldiers faced off with hundreds of angry protesters who called for President Pierre Nkurunziza to reverse his decision to seek another term in office, which many say is unconstitutional.

An Associated Press reporter in Musaga, where protesters put up barricades of burning tires, saw two soldiers fire into a crowd of protesters, who had repeatedly shouted, "Shoot us." No injured demonstrators were seen. The soldiers who fired the shots were then ordered to leave the front line.

"The military is shooting at us, you have seen for yourselves. They came here pushing and shoving us and also doing the same to journalists then they shot," said protester Alfred Nsengumukiza.

No police were seen in Musaga, a sign that the army, which previously had acted as a buffer between angry protester s and the police, has now taken over operations against demonstrators who have staged almost daily protests against the president for more than three weeks. The soldiers are armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Seventeen security officials, including five generals, accused in the attempted coup were charged Saturday with attempting to destabilize public institutions, said lawyers of some of the suspects. Maj. Gen. Godefroid Niyombare, the former intelligence chief who announced the coup on Wednesday, remains at large.

Nkurunziza, who was in Tanzania for a summit to discuss his nation's troubles when the coup attempt was announced, made his first public appearance in Bujumbura on Sunday.

On Monday protesters emerged again in three neighborhoods of Bujumbura, including Nyakabiga and Cibitoke, despite Nkurunziza urging residents to stop protesting so parliamentary elections can take place later this month.

The protests began April 26, a day after the ruling party made Nkurunziza its presidential candidate in elections set for June 26.

More than 105,000 Burundians have fled to neighboring countries recently, according to the U.N.


Togo: Thousands protest presidential election results

Thousands of opposition supporters marched through the Togolese capital on Saturday to protest the results of presidential elections that extended the Gnassingbe family's nearly five decades in power.

Observers have called the April 25 election free and transparent and the United Nations has approved of the conduct of the vote, but the opposition in the west African nation of some seven million people has labelled the results fraudulent.

President Faure Gnassingbe won a third term in office with 59 percent of the ballots while his closest rival, longtime opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre, finished with 35 percent.

"We need people to be aware of the seriousness of the situation and that, together, we are working to stop it," Fabre, who has declared himself the elected president, told AFP on Saturday.

Adele Wavisso, a 32-year-old bread seller among the protesters in Lome, said "those in power know very well that we did not vote for Faure. Our president is Fabre, and we will not give up."

The opposition has said it decided not to challenge the results at Togo's Constitutional Court because it was biased in favour of the president.

Gnassingbe's father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, seized power in a coup and ruled with an iron fist for 38 years over the former German- and French-administered colony until his death in 2005.

The military then installed his son as leader and elections later that year were marred by allegations of rigging as well as violence which left up to 500 people dead and thousands injured.

Gnassingbe then won 2010 elections that the opposition also declared fraudulent but which were judged acceptable by the international community.


Burundi crisis is not over yet – analysis

What happened during the 13 May coup attempt? What do you understand about the situation on the ground?

Thierry Vircoulon: The coup leaders took advantage of the fact that President Nkurunziza had travelled to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania for a summit of the East African Community. Ironically, the special meeting had been convened by regional heads of state to discuss the crisis in Burundi after three weeks of street protests in the capital city against Nkurunziza’s candidacy for the next election.

Click the link to read the full article:



Burundi: Elections in Burundi – “A moment of truth”

The people of Burundi are today staring at the edge of a precipice it once dug itself out of decades ago, when rival tribal factions brought mayhem to the streets, in a civil war that took the lives of over two hundred thousand people.

This week’s coup by an army general, who is leading popular opposition to the perverse ruling of the country’s Constitutional Court’s acceptance of president Nkurunziza’s politically retrogressive decision to contest a third term election, may have been foiled by forces loyal to Nkurunziza, but political uncertainty and the threat of further violence remains.

Click the link to read the full article:


Burundi: President mute on attempted coup in first appearance

BURUNDI’S President Pierre Nkurunziza has appeared relaxed and confident in his first official appearance since an attempted coup.
The president greeted reporters at the presidency in Bujumbura’s city centre, and gave only a brief statement without even mentioning this week’s attempt to overthrow him.
Mr Nkurunziza has been facing weeks of violent and deadly street protests over his controversial bid to stand for a third consecutive term in office.
On Wednesday, a group of top generals announced they were overthrowing him while he was on a visit to neighbouring Tanzania.
But on Friday the coup leaders admitted defeat, having failed to capture the state broadcaster after fierce fighting with loyalist troops.
Seventeen alleged plotters, including a former defence minister and two top police commissioners, appeared in court on Saturday while the alleged ringleader is still said to be on the run.

Mr Nkurunziza ignored the coup attempt and spoke only about reported threats from Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants, who have warned of mounting attacks against Burundi and other states that contribute troops to the African Union force in Somalia.
“We have taken measures against al-Shebab,” the president said. “We take this threat seriously.”
“We are very preoccupied by al-Shabab’s well-known attack. You know that Burundi has contributed to sending troops to Somalia so we came here to contact our friends and colleagues here in Kenya as well as in Uganda,” Mr Nkurunziza said. “Both are privileged targets for al-Shabab. The agenda is to put in place proactive measures to face these attacks that are a security risk to the citizens of Burundi.”

Addressing the domestic crisis, Willy Nyamitwe, a close aide to the president, said Burundi’s election commission “could decide to delay” Burundi’s parliamentary and presidential votes.
“We will put everything in place for the laws and constitution to be respected and for elections to be held within the time limit set out,” he said.
Mr Nyamitwe insisted a delay would not be used as a pretext for Mr Nkurunziza to prolong his rule.
Parliamentary elections are due to take place on May 26, and presidential polls on June 26. Nyamitwe suggested they could be delayed by “two or three days, by a week”.
Opposition and rights groups insist that Mr Nkurunziza’s bid for a third consecutive five-year term is against the constitution and the terms of the peace deal that brought an end to the country’s civil war in 2006.

The president has also been accused of intimidating opponents and failing to lift the fortunes of one of the poorest countries in the world.
Mr Nkurunziza, however, argues that his first term did not count as he was elected by parliament, not directly by the people.
Bujumbura was calm on Sunday, although civil society and opposition activists have vowed to resume street protests on Monday.
Weeks of protests have already left at least 20 people dead.


Burundi: Coup attempt to delay elections

PARLIAMENTARY and presidential elections due to take place in Burundi in May and June could be delayed in the wake of the coup attempt against President Pierre Nkurunziza, his office said Sunday.

Asked if elections would go ahead as scheduled, Willy Nyamitwe, a close aide to the president, replied that delays had happened in the past and that the central African nation's election commission "could decide to delay" the polls.

Nkurunziza's controversial bid for a third consecutive term in office has been at the centre of Burundi's political crisis, with activists and the opposition arguing it goes against the constitution and the peace deal that brought an end to the country's civil war in 2006.

Nyamitwe was speaking after Nkurunziza made his first official appearance since an attempted coup, appearing relaxed and assertive of his full control over the country. Despite weeks of protests, a coup attempt and international pressure, Nkurunziza gave no sign he had changed his mind about standing for re-election.

Parliamentary elections are due to take place on May 26, and presidential polls on June 26. Nyamitwe suggested they could be delayed by "two or three days, by a week". He also said the presidency condemned attacks against independent radio stations, which were shut down during the coup-related violence -- according to witnesses by security forces loyal to the president.

"Burning the media, for the presidency, this is to be condemned with our fullest energy," he insisted.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Burundi: Group calls for more protests after failed coup

Burundian civil society groups on Friday called for renewed street protests against the third term bid by the president after a coup bid against him failed.

"In principle, civil society is against coups, but we note that Burundians welcomed with great joy the attempted coup, which shows that the Burundian people today needs change," civil society leader Vital Nshimirimana told AFP.

"We stopped the protests against the third term because there was shooting with heavy weapons on the streets of Bujumbura, now we call on Burundians to again mobilise and to resume the demonstrations."

The parliamentary and presidential poll is scheduled for May 26 and June 26 respectively.


Zimbabwe: Group wants violent candidates banned ahead of by-election

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) must immediately investigate and disqualify candidates behind recurrent political violence that has rocked Hurungwe West ahead of the June 10 by-election, an election watchdog said on Thursday.

In a statement, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) condemned the surging politically motivated violence and intimidation against opposition supporters in the volatile constituency.

"ZEC must condemn and give warnings to intransigent political actors who defy democratic belonging and culture as prescribed in the constitution," reads part of the statement.

Temba Mliswa, expelled as Zanu PF MP for the area and now vying to recover the seat as an independent, has continuously raised alarm on a number of violent incidences targeting his supporters.

In some instances, traditional leaders sympathetic to the former Zanu PF chair for Mashonaland West have allegedly been attacked and in some instances abducted by ZANU PF militia.

"We demand that ZEC must carry out an immediate investigation of the reported violence and intimidation in Hurungwe West.

"The ERC, implores upon ZEC to take action against perpetrators of violence and, in fact, disqualify them from participating in the by-election in line with Section 156 (c) (i) of the Zimbabwe Constitution which states that 'at every election and referendum, ZEC must ensure that appropriate systems and mechanisms are put in place to eliminate electoral violence and other electoral malpractices," the election watchdog said.

Local reports claim that headmen in Hurungwe West were handed exercise books by militant Zanu PF supporters and ordered to write down the names of all those they would lead to vote on election day.

Keith Guzah, the Zanu PF candidate for the constituency, has also allegedly ordered villagers to claim to be illiterate so they could be assisted to cast their votes.

Guzha has also allegedly threatened the same villagers to either vote for him or forget about receiving any more handouts from Zanu PF which are usually in the form of farm inputs and other food aid.

The ERC, a think tank and advocacy institution on democracy and elections, said ZEC must denounce the acts of violence.

"We are grossly disappointed by such electoral malpractice and most importantly we remain disturbed by the silence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the police and the Minister of Justice and Parliamentary Affairs who is also the Vice President of the country, Hon Emmerson Mnangagwa," said the ERC.

The group, which is campaigning for a transparent polling system in a country with a battered electoral history, said it remained concerned by the silence of respective authorities including the ZEC and the justice ministry.

"Their reluctance to act and ensure that the environment is conducive for the holding of free and fair elections is quite disturbing and has huge negative impact on not only the outcome of these elections but also on the participation of citizens in electoral processes.

"The failure to act also suggests collusion with the perpetrators and gives credence to arguments that ZEC is not politically independent," the ERC said.

The group further urged government to ensure that ZEC was adequately funded for it to perform tasks without compromise and negligence to fundamental issues.

Hurungwe West constituency fell vacant after the ruling Zanu PF recalled Mliswa over a slew of offences which he was never called to answer to.


Burundi: President says he's back in the country amid uncertainty

(CNN)Gunfire erupted in Burundi on Thursday, hours after an army general announced a coup and the President's spokesman dismissed it as a "joke."

Political infighting sparked fears that Burundi would plunge into ethnic violence -- with the central African nation's history of civil war making it especially vulnerable to deep divisions.

Sporadic gunshots rocked Bujumbura, the capital, following an attempt to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza on Wednesday.

But the President downplayed any coup attempt, urging citizens not to panic.

"We ask all the people of Burundi to stay calm in the face of the impostor," Nkurunziza tweeted. "The situation is under control and the constitutional order has been safeguarded."

Nkurunziza posted a Twitter message later Thursday saying he had returned to his country. It was unclear exactly where he was, but he congratulated the army and the police for "their patriotism," and "Burundians "for their patience."

'Nkurunziza remains the President'
U.S. diplomats expressed concerns at the situation.

"Our embassy has received reports that the airport continues to be closed and that the land borders may also be closed or restricted at this time," said Jeff Rathke, acting spokesman for the State Department.

He told reporters that "President Nkurunziza remains the President of Burundi," but urged Americans there to be cautious. He also said that travel in Bujumbura is not safe.

The United Nations Security Council condemned the violence in Burundi and "called for the swift return of the rule of law," the French mission at the U.N. said Thursday via Twitter.

'Either it is a coup or not, no one knows'
For a while Thursday, fear and uncertainty reigned as the President's whereabouts were unknown.

Nkurunziza had joined a summit of African leaders in nearby Tanzania on Wednesday to discuss the escalating chaos in his nation.

"People are staying indoors, not moving," said Gad Ngajimana, who lives in Bujumbura. "There was some fighting this morning. Gunfire lasted about 30 minutes. Now there is only gunfire about once every 10 minutes."

He said it was unclear who's in charge.

"The faces of the people -- they are very scared," he said. "Either it is a coup or not, no one knows."

Burundi, like its neighbor Rwanda, has a Hutu majority and a Tutsi minority.

While the current crisis is rooted in politics, some observers fear the government might try to stoke ethnic animosities in a last-ditch effort to retain power.

The last time the nation plunged into ethnic violence fueled by tensions between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis, the resulting civil war left 300,000 people dead.

Refugees flee to neighboring nations
Nkurunziza has been seeking a third term in office, which is prohibited by the agreement that ended the 1993-2003 civil war. Protesters determined to prevent his candidacy have demonstrated in the capital, and have been met with deadly force by police.

About 70,000 refugees have streamed into the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda, according to the United Nations.

The situation can escalate quickly, said Nsengiyumva Pierre Claver, a former member of a European Union electoral monitoring team.

"There is a very great risk of ethnic conflict," said Claver, who is in Bujumbura.

Postpone elections, neighbors say
Animosity against the President started last month when he expressed his intention to run for a third term.

Deadly protests hit the nation as he sought to extend his 10-year rule. He registered last week to run for a third term, angering protesters who've taken to the streets.

Burundi's constitutional court ruled he is eligible to run again because he was picked by parliament, not elected by people, during his first term.

At least seven candidates have registered for the presidential race scheduled for next month. Among them is prominent opposition leader Agathon Rwasa, who helped lead rebel fighters in the country's civil war.

East African Community leaders called for the elections to be postponed, saying conditions are "not conducive" to hold them.

Attempted coup

Army Gen. Godefroid Niyombareh announced on the radio Wednesday that the President had been dismissed.

Niyombareh, a former head of Burundian intelligence, was fired by the President in February.

An African Union official said a military coup attempt was underway Wednesday, but the government denied it was under threat.

Reports of a coup are "a joke," government spokesman Willy Nyamitwe said. The President's office said some soldiers had declared an "imaginary" coup. It appealed for calm, saying security forces are looking for the culprits.

"I would call this an attempted coup -- we don't know whether or not it has been successful," said Tim Stevens, a professor at King's College in London and an expert on political violence.

"What we have heard is that there has been both fighting and negotiations overnight, it is still very unclear."

Some airlines, including Kenya Airways, canceled their flights to Bujumbura until further notice.

Burundi is a tiny landlocked nation that is home to about 10 million people.

Burundi: 3 coup leaders arrested ahead of elections

Three leaders of a failed coup against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza have been arrested, his spokesman says.
However coup leader Gen Godefroid Niyombare is "still on the run".
Earlier, Gen Niyombare told the AFP news agency that he and his followers were going to surrender, adding: "I hope they won't kill us".
President Pierre Nkurunziza has tweeted he is back home. He was in Tanzania when the coup attempt against his bid to seek a third term was launched.
He is expected to make a national address.

'Held accountable'

Renegade general and former defence minister Gen Cyrille Ndayirukiye was one of the three coup leaders arrested on Friday, Mr Nkurunziza's spokesman, Gervais Abayeho, told the BBC World Service.

"If they are found to be among the coup leaders they will have to face justice," Mr Abayeho said, adding that it was only a small section of the army who had rebelled and denying a division in the army.

Security Minister Gabriel Nizigama told the BBC's Maud Jullien in Bujumbura that two police commissioners and about a dozen other police officers had also been arrested after a brief exchange of fire at one of the generals' houses where they were hiding.

Gen Ndayirukiye earlier admitted that the attempt to overthrow the president had failed. He said coup leaders had been "faced with an overpowering military determination to support the system in power".

Meanwhile, civil society groups in Burundi are calling on people to return to the streets after weeks of protests against against Mr Nkurunziza's decision to seek a third term in office.

"Our movement had nothing to do with the attempted coup or the failed coup," Gordien Niyungeko, of rights organisation Focode, told Reuters news agency.

Many view his bid as an unconstitutional move. Tens of thousands of people fled the country.
Thousands celebrated on the streets of the capital after Gen Niyombare announced the takeover on national radio on Wednesday, while President Nkurunziza was at a summit in Tanzania.
The streets of Bujumbura were reported to be calm on Friday morning.

It comes after a day of heavy fighting for control of the national state TV and radio stations, which the Burundi military say they now control. Five soldiers were killed.

BBC reporters say the capital seems to be mainly in the control of loyalist police. Army chief of staff Gen Prime Niyongabo says the military is "in control of all strategic points in the country".


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Benin: Electoral body postpones municipal elections

The municipal, communal and local elections, initially set by the Constitutional Court of Benin for 31 May, will likely be postponed in the period from 15 to 30 June, announced Wednesday in Cotonou the President of the National Autonomous Electoral Commission (CENA) Emmanuel Tiando. elections

Emmanuel Tiando said that this postponement is more than necessary to correct some irregularities in legislative 26 April.

“We wanted and obtained the consensus of the representatives of political parties and alliances to see these municipal and local elections, to correct certain malfunctions that have staked the laws of 26 April, including training of election officials to be deployed in positions of voting and resumption of distributions of voter cards to thousands of voters who were unable to express their rights to vote in parliamentary elections of April 26, ” he added.

These municipal, communal and local elections will designate the 1199 municipal and city councilors of the third mandate of the era of democratic renewal in progress since February 1990 in Benin, who will elect within them 77 mayors, 176 deputy mayors, 546 Borough leaders that will be responsible for managing local affairs. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

Ethiopia: Opposition claims harassment, detentions ahead of elections

Ethiopian opposition groups are accusing the government of harassing their members and carrying out illegal detentions ahead of the May 24 elections.

Yonathan Tesfaye, spokesman for the Blue Party, told The Associated Press Wednesday that some party members are being beaten, especially in the southern region. He said his party may boycott the elections.

Chane Kebede, leader of the Ethiopian Democratic Party, also complained of a climate of fear.

Desta Tesfaw, a spokesman for the ruling party, dismissed the allegations and accused opposition parties groups of trying to discredit the elections.

In 2010, Ethiopia's ruling coalition won 99.6 percent of all parliamentary seats — a victory that Human Rights Watch said was "the culmination of the government's five-year strategy of systematically closing down space for political dissent and independent criticism."


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Burundi: President flies home after coup attempt

President Pierre Nkurunziza is flying home to Burundi hours after an army officer announced a coup while he was attending a regional crisis meeting in neighbouring Tanzania.

"He has left because of the situation prevailing in Burundi," Tanzanian government spokesman Salva Rweyemamu told AFP, adding that Nkurunziza was heading back to the Burundi capital Bujumbura.

Meanwhile, the Burundian general who launched the coup ordered the closure of Bujumbura airport and land borders.

"I order the closure of the airport and border, and I ask every citizen and law enforcement down to the airport to protect it," General Godefroid Niyombare said in the radio broadcast.

East African leaders condemned the attempted coup.

"The summit condemns the coup in Burundi, it does not solve problems in Burundi," Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said at the end of the day-long crisis meeting of the five-nation East African Community (EAC) -- made up of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda as well as Burundi.

"We call upon the return to the constitutional order," Kikwete added, speaking in Tanzania's coastal city of Dar es Salaam.

"Given the situation in Burundi conditions are not conducive for elections in Burundi, and the summit calls upon the authorities to postpone the elections for a period not beyond the mandate of the current government."

Over 20 people have been killed and scores wounded since late April, when Burundi's ruling party nominated President Nkurunziza to stand for a third term on June 26, triggering daily protests.

Violence in Burundi has raised fears of a return to violence in the central African state, which is still recovering from a brutal 13-year civil war that ended in 2006.

Critics say a third term for Nkurunziza runs counter to both the constitution and the Arusha accords that ended the war.

The summit calls for elections "in respect of the constitution, the electoral law and the spirit of the Arusha peace agreement," Kikwete added.

Over 50,000 Burundians have fled into neighbouring nations since the unrest began.


No more 3rd term for presidents of ECOWAS member states

Tired of presidents in West Africa changing their constitutions to run for third term in office and creating instability, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is planning to enact a new clause that will prohibit presidents of member countries from staying beyond two terms.

This clause will be tabled at the next ECOWAS meeting this week. Reliable ECOWAS sources told The Finder that when adopted, the clause will bind all member states, even though proponents are not sure if member states will abide by the clause.

Political analysts say a situation whereby elected presidents who swear to protect the constitution often end up messing up the same through kangaroo referendums to remove term limits and run for third, fourth and as many terms as they want amounts to ‘civilian coup,’ which should equally be condemned as military coup d’états.

Examples are the cases in Togo, Niger, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and Senegal.

To enforce the new clause that prohibits third term as well as all protocols, conventions, declarations and directives, ECOWAS is also considering the adoption of a new legal regime for Community Acts that will make all ECOWAS decisions immediately applicable and binding on member states and eliminate parliamentary approvals.

Information on ECOWAS website indicates that the new legal regime for Community Acts is part of the transformation of the Secretariat into a Commission.

Until now, obligations of member states were captured principally in Protocols and Conventions which are subject to lengthy parliamentary ratification processes by each member state.

These processes delayed the entry into force of the legal texts, thereby paralysing the integration process.

Decisions of the authority were, however, immediately applicable and binding on member states whilst those emanating from the Council of Ministers were only applicable and binding on the Community Institutions.

Under the new legal regime, the principle of supranational becomes more pre-eminent and there is now a de-emphasis on the adoption of Conventions and Protocols.

Community Acts will be Supplementary Acts, Regulations, Directives, Decisions, Recommendations and Opinion. Thus, the authority passes Supplementary Acts to complete the Treaty.

Supplementary Acts are binding on member states and the institutions of the community.

The Council of Ministers enacts Regulations and Directives and makes Decisions and Recommendations.

Regulations have general application and all their provisions are enforceable and directly applicable in member states.

They are enforceable in the institutions of the community. Decisions are enforceable in member states and all designated therein. Directives and their objectives are binding on all Member States.

The modalities for attaining such objectives are left to the discretion of states.

The commission adopts Rules for the implementation of Acts enacted by the Council.

These Rules have the same legal force as Acts enacted by the Council. The Commission makes recommendations and gives advice. Recommendations and advice are not enforceable.

Togo's President Faure Gnassingbe has been re-elected for a third term. Last year, opposition protests failed to bring about constitutional changes limiting the president to two terms in office - a move that would have prevented Mr Gnassingbe from standing.

Cameroon’s Paul Biya has become a Life President for the country after removing term limits; the same in Burkina Faso, Gabon, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

None of these civilian coups have been sanctioned by AU or any Regional Economic Communities (RECs).

In Burkina Faso, long-ruling President Blaise Compaore attempted to scrap limits last year and was driven out of power by protests.

In Benin, opponents allege a secret bid to scrap term limits so President Thomas Boni Yayi can run for a third term from 2016, but in reaction, the President has promised to leave power when his mandate expires.

In Niger, former President Mamadou Tandja used the parliament to rubber stamp the outcome of a discredited referendum and was only stopped by a counter military coup.

In Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo’s attempt was only foiled by a resilient Nigerian population.

In Senegal, a new President Macky Sall emerged after a failed ‘civilian coup’ staged by outgoing President Abdoullaye Wade, 85, to have a third term.

Throughout his 12-year reign, President Wade amended the constitution 14 times with the acquiescence of a weak parliament that acted in cahoots with Wade as a rubber stamp.

Wade also used the discredited Constitutional Council to validate his candidacy and disqualify Youssou N’dour and others four weeks before the February 2012 election, throwing the country into major violence that resulted in at least six deaths, disruption of work and destruction of properties.

In June 2011, Wade proposed an amendment to replace the constitutional requirement of 50% plus 1 with 25% in order to win presidential elections.

It was the 15th amendment after the previous 14 that passed swiftly.

It did not seem like a big deal that the 15th would pass, but a previously disinterested Senegalese public suddenly awoke to stop the amendment, where the parliament had become thoroughly compromised.