Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ghana: First female electoral body chair in Africa sworn in

The new commissioner of the Electoral Commission Charlotte Osei has been sworn in by President Mahama at a short ceremony at the Flagstaff House Tuesday.

The former boss of the National Commission for Civic Education becomes the first woman to head the commission, taking over from retired Kwadwo Afari Gyan who was in charge for over two decades.

Mrs. Osei promised President Mahama and other leaders of the various political parties in the country to push through electoral reforms to enhance image of Ghana’s electoral body.

All other six commissioners of the Commission were also present at the event.

Mrs. Osei, a lawyer with considerable experience in public service management, institutional reform also has expertise in corporate law, banking, insurance, project financing and public-private partnerships.

The new EC Chairperson holds a Masters in Law (LLM) from Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada and a Masters in Business Leadership from the University of South Africa, Pretoria. She obtained an LLB (Hons) from the University of Ghana in 1992.

Source: Ghana/Starrfmonline.com/103.5FM

Monday, June 29, 2015

Burundi: Polls unsurprisingly perspective

Despite the warnings and appeals of the international community, which fears that the situation escalates, Burundi organizes this Monday, June 29 legislative and municipal elections without the opposition decided to boycott. It is therefore no surprise polls looming. Turnout will be the focus of attention. Polling stations officially opened at 4 pm GMT, after another night of violence in Bujumbura.

Some 3.8 million voters are called to the polls on Monday for controversial legislative and municipal elections, which take place in a very tense atmosphere punctuated with violence.

Tens of thousands of soldiers and policemen were deployed to secure the 11,500 polling stations spread over some 3,500 centers throughout the country. An operation at risk, especially in areas where the challenge of the third term of President Pierre Nkurunziza was the strongest. Opposition and civil society have also called for a boycott of the elections.

For legislative, Burundian citizens will elect 100 deputies on a closed list basis in a majority vote in one round. The Assembly must have the final 60% Hutu, 40% Tutsi and at least 30% women. And for communal, voters must designate 15 councilors in each of the 117 municipalities of the country, in the same ethnic and gender proportions. Balances enshrined in the Arusha Peace Accords .

Without any real election issue after the withdrawal of the opposition, everyone will scrutinize carefully the rate of abstention. But a problem is size: the credibility of the figures will be announced. All international observer missions, except that of the UN, have withdrawn from this process after the government's refusal to further postpone these elections, as demanded by the international community.

Opening powered polls

A Nyakabiga, gunfire and grenade explosions punctuated the night before the election. In this hot area in central Bujumbura, all offices were relocated and regrouped at the University of Burundi. It is a bit out in the Mutanga campus, just outside Nyakabiga .

Around 4:30 GMT on Monday morning, election officials have arrived in a somewhat disorderly atmosphere. A Nyakabiga there are between 14 000 and 15 000 members, but very few, about 5000 only came to take their voting cards. Voters are not jostled at the polling station when it opened, perhaps deterred by the violence of the night in the area as in others of the capital. Attempts have particular attack occurred on polling Cibitoké and Jabez. According to police sources contacted by RFI, 15 grenades were thrown and exploded in Bujumbura, six police officers were slightly injured, two vehicles damaged.

An official of INEC told RFI that normally, the offices were open from 6am to 16h, but they have given the latitude to polling hot neighborhoods to open later, even catch later in the day.

IDP polling stations

In one of the key areas of dispute, Musaga , the authorities decided to relocate the polling stations on the outskirts of the town to avoid overflow. On Sunday, tents were erected throughout the day to accommodate voters.

A football field has been transformed into such voting center. "  This is the land we chose because it is secure  , "said Napoleon Nimbesha, the president of the polling center in town Musaga. The land is "  in front of the police officers , it is in front of the military camp. This is a great place because you can not disturb the order. You saw that around the field we see a lot of soldiers.  "

We must be able to accommodate 46 polling stations. A nearby school was even requisitioned to reach the 93 regulatory offices. But the residents of this neighborhood do not want to hear about these elections. Those who agree to respond are adamant. They will not vote.

"  I will not vote because there are many irregularities in these elections, says one of them RFI. These are only formalities otherwise there is no real elections in good standing. There should be different parties, the ruling parties and other opposition. But in Burundi this is not the case. There is only one party, the party in power , so if it is not the ruling party can not participate. "

The president of the local electoral commission says still hope that voters will arise. Everything is ready to welcome those who want it, ensures Napoleon Nimbesha.

Nights of violence

In the northern districts, several polling centers were attacked on the night of Sunday to Monday, but authorities claimed to have quickly mastered the situation. A Jabez, gunfire and grenade explosions were heard late into the night, without people holed up at home do not understand what is happening on their streets. The same scenario as yesterday. In the night from Saturday to Sunday the clashes had killed two people.

Patrick, a young student, was shot. Friends say he discovered his lifeless body, one part creme and should have tried to finish him with knives. Despite this treatment, the young man would have agonized for minutes without hope of relief, telling his family and friends in tears angry.

"  We tried to find an ambulance, telling a close. I called all the people who have all told me that it was impossible to come because there was a lot of shooting. One was killed, we were shocked!  "

The authorities accuse the residents of these neighborhoods protesting possess weapons, which upset a young man of Jabez. "  Authorities say anything! They are crazy people! It was nothing! That's why we die like dogs here.  "

A few blocks away, another family in mourning. The body of Abdul Prime is still in the house. Shredded hands, arms burned by the explosion of a grenade. One of his neighbors said they did not know what happened. "  We're not out of the night. We hid under the bed In the morning when I was washing me, I was told that someone had died.  "

This is not a victim, comment - face closed - women sitting not far from his home. Others say it is a member of the ruling party who had himself tried to throw a grenade.


Burundi: Voting delays after attacks of poll stations

Assailants attacked numerous polling stations in Burundi overnight, disrupting the start of voting in controversial polls that follow two months of unrest over the president's bid for a third term.

Armed groups threw grenades at stations in both the capital Bujumbura and in some provinces ahead of Monday's parliamentary and local elections, delaying the start of voting in many of the centres, police and election officials said.

And as a few short voter lines now form, mostly military and police uniforms at Musaga polls #Burundi pic.twitter.com/EbsKe7iqDS

— Julia Steers (@JCSteers) June 29, 2015
"Voting has not yet begun in many centres in the capital because election officials are trying to prepare materials and in almost all of the stations, these arrived late because of the overnight attacks," Cyriaque Bucumi, the president of the Bujumbura electoral commission, told AFP.

Streets in the #Burundi capital completely empty this AM as polls open for local and legislative elections pic.twitter.com/pYDcyUqBU6

— Eddie Rwema (@edrwema) June 29, 2015
The opposition and civil society groups are boycotting Monday's polls, saying the elections – which the authorities have refused to delay despite calls from the international community – will not be free and fair.

Burundi has been roiled by weeks of unrest that has included widespread protests and a failed coup bid and that has killed more than 70 people and sent thousands fleeing the central African country following President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid for a third term.

Monday's vote is for local and parliamentary seats, with a presidential election due to follow on July 15.

Burundi was plunged into turmoil in late April when Nkurunziza launched his drive for a third consecutive five-year term, triggering widespread protests.

Opponents say his bid for another term is unconstitutional and violates a peace accord that paved the way to end 13 years of civil war in 2006.

Several top officials – including the deputy vice-president Gervais Rufyikiri as well as members of the election commission and constitutional court – have also fled the poverty-stricken, landlocked country.

- Africa News Agency

Burundi: Election goes ahead despite claims president's bid is 'illegal'

Burundi goes to the polls on Monday with the president defiant in his controversial bid for a third term in power, despite weeks of unrest that forced thousands to flee and prompted international calls for a delay.

On the eve of the election, a top party official and parliament head, Pie Ntavyohanyuma, said he had joined about 127,000 Burundians who have fled the country, denouncing president Pierre Nkurunziza’s “illegal” bid to stay in power for a third term.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has echoed calls for the elections to be delayed after the opposition said it would not take part, as Burundi faces its worst crisis since its civil war ended nine years ago.

Ntavyohanyuma told the broadcaster France 24 on Sunday: “I would like to say to him [Nkurunziza] that the mandate he wants to have is illegal. I would like to say to him that forcing through the election is senseless.”

Burundi vice-president calls on president to quit
 Read more
More than 70 have been killed in weeks of violence and a failed coup sparked by Nkurunziza’s bid to stay in power. There has been a string of grenade attacks in recent days.

Several top officials – including the deputy vice-president, Gervais Rufyikiri, and members of the election commission and constitutional court – have also fled the poverty-stricken, landlocked country.

But the government has defied all requests for a delay, and the electoral commission said on Sunday that all was ready for polling day.

“Everything is ready in the country,” the election commission chief, Pierre-Claver Ndayicariye, said Sunday. All voting material had been delivered to more than 11,000 polling stations.

The African Union announced on Sunday that it would not act as an observer in the parliamentary polls because the conditions were not right for “credible elections”.

“Noting that the necessary conditions are not met for the organisation of free, fair, transparent and credible elections … the AU commission will not observe the local and parliamentary elections,” the commission’s chairwoman, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said.

Almost five million people are registered to vote, but the opposition is boycotting the polls, claiming it is not possible to hold a fair vote.

Voting for the parliamentary and local elections begins at 6am (4am GMT), and the presidential vote is due to follow on 15 July.

Ndayicariye said he had not received any official notification confirming the opposition withdrawal from the vote.

“This is nothing new in Burundi,” he said. “In Africa, boycott is another way of doing politics.” The opposition also boycotted polls in 2010.

The opposition leader, Charles Nditije, insisted, however, that the letter announcing a boycott had been handed to the commission, and accused it of “lying” to pretend the poll will be credible.

Burundi was plunged into turmoil in late April when Nkurunziza launched his drive for a third consecutive five-year term, triggering widespread protests.

Opponents say his bid for another term is unconstitutional and violates a peace accord in 2006 that paved the way to end 13 years of civil war.

Civil society groups backed the boycott in a joint statement calling on voters to skip the “sham elections” and urging the international community “not to recognise the validity” of the polls.

The ruling CNDD-FDD’s youth wing, the fearsome Imbonerakure – whose name means “the Watchmen” or, literally, “Those Who See Far” – has been accused by the UN of waging a campaign of intimidation and violence.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Zambia: Electoral body begins preparations for 2016 tripartite elections

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) says preparations for next year’s general elections are underway, according to a report by ZANIS.

ECZ Director Priscilla Isaac however says that some aspects of the electoral process will be put on hold to await the outcome of the adoption of the national constitution.

Mrs. Isaac said the final outcome on the national constitution would impact on some of the electoral laws and regulations as they would require some amendments before next year’s tripartite elections.

“Depending on what will be the outcome for the constitution, we may need to wait as there may be an impact on some of our electoral laws and regulations which may need amendments,” she said.

She said the commission was in the planning stage of the 2016 General Elections, and in the process of letting government know its budgetary needs and areas in the training manual, which needed revisions.

Mrs. Isaac said this in Livingstone today when she presented a paper on ‘Lessons learnt in managing an election and conflict resolution,’ at the closing session of the Consortium for International Management, Policy and Development 10thInternational Conference.

The ECZ Director further said political parties in the country had a big task of convincing the electorate that it is worthwhile to vote, going by the voter apathy experienced in the last presidential election.

She said political parties had to enhance their efforts to get people to vote as voter apathy in some cases was due to lack of development in some areas over the years, even when people exercised their civic right to vote.

“As a commission we will do our part but each individual has that civic responsibility. We say if you don’t vote, don’t complain. But people say they vote but still complain as economic development has continued to elude them in some parts of the country, since independence,” she said.

And a Public Administration Lecturer at Uganda Management Institute, Stella Kyohairwe said her country was also faced with the challenge of voter apathy in its 2011 General Elections but noted that political parties contributed significantly to election outcomes.

Dr Kyohairwe said political parties usually caused problems which led to the outcome of elections being questioned mostly because the processes of primary elections within their party structures were not as transparent as possible or as expected.

Source: ZANIS

Ghana: Female lawyer appointed new electoral body chair

A lawyer Mrs Charlotte Osei has been appointed the new chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, an official communication from the Flagstaff House announced.

She becomes the first woman head of the electoral body and her first major assignment is to oversee the September 1, 2015 District Assembly Elections.

President John Dramani Mahama in accordance with Article 70(2) of the 1992 Constitution appointed Mrs. Osei to replace retired Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan.

A statement signed by Chief of Staff Julius Debrah said Mrs. Osei was until her appointment the Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE).

Mrs. Osei, a lawyer with considerable experience in public service management, institutional reform also has expertise in corporate law, banking, insurance, project financing and public-private partnerships.

The new EC Chairperson holds a Masters in Law (LLM) from Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada and a Masters in Business Leadership from the University of South Africa, Pretoria. She obtained an LLB (Hons) from the University of Ghana in 1992.

Dr. Gyan is retiring from the EC after 23 years of service as Chairman of the National Electoral Commission.

He was in charge of the 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 general elections in Ghana.

Source: Ghana/starrfmonline.com/103.5FM

Burundi: Opposition boycotts general election

Burundi`s opposition parties announced Friday they will boycott all upcoming key elections, saying it was not possible to hold a fair vote following weeks of violence over President Pierre Nkurunziza`s bid to cling to power.

"All the opposition have unanimously decided to boycott the elections," a letter signed by representatives of all the political opposition read. Parliamentary elections are due to be held on Monday, ahead of the presidential vote on July 15.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Burundi: Vice-President flees country

One of Burundi's vice-presidents has fled the country, saying he felt threatened after opposing President Pierre Nkurunziza's third-term bid.
Burundi has seen months of turmoil since Mr Nkurunziza announced that he would be running for office again in July's election.

Gervais Rufyikiri told France24 TV that a third term for the president would be unconstitutional.
A government spokesman denied that Mr Rufyikiri had been threatened.
Violent protests in the capital Bujumbura followed the 25 April announcement that Mr Nkurunziza would seek re-election.

Rights groups say at least 70 people have been killed and 500 wounded as demonstrators clashed with police over the past two months.

More than 100,000 people have fled Burundi since the start of the crisis, the UN says.
In a sign of continuing tension, four people have been injured in a grenade attack in Bujumbura.
The fleeing of another high-profile Burundian may look like a further blow to President Nkurunziza, but it is not clear how much impact it will have on the politics in the country as Gervais Rufyikiri had already been sidelined by the governing CNDD-FDD party.

His open opposition to the president's third-term bid and an alleged link to May's failed coup attempt led to him being pushed out of the party's influential circles.

If Mr Rufyikiri had made the move earlier then it would have been a more powerful gesture, but just days before parliamentary elections and a fortnight before the presidential poll it seems too late to change things in Burundi.
Mr Rufyikiri had fallen out of favour with the governing CNDD-FDD party since April, when he told a party conference that he could not support Mr Nkurunziza's re-election.
The vice-president is the latest in a series of high-profile Burundians to leave the country, including a constitutional court judge and a member of the electoral commission.

Mr Nkurunziza's critics say that a third term contravenes the constitution, which requires the president to step down after two terms.

But Burundi's Constitutional Court ruled that his first term does not count because he was elected by parliament and not voters.

In May, the president survived a coup attempt.
The presidential election was due in June but was put back to 15 July following pressure from regional leaders, parliamentary elections are due on Monday.
The United Nations is currently trying to broker talks between the governing party and the opposition to resolve tensions.


Burundi: Ruling party rejects any dialogue ahead of elections

The Burundi ruling party has said it will not participate in the political dialogue aimed to create favorable conditions for fair, credible and inclusive elections, the ruling party chairman said here in a press conference.

The statement was made as the dialogue resumed Tuesday under the leadership of Abdoulaye Bathily, UN Secretary-General’s special envoy and new facilitator in Burundi’s crisis in replacement of Said Djinnit who resigned last week.

"The National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party will not participate in the political dialogue during this period of the electoral campaign because this would distract and disorient the electoral process," said Burundian ruling party (CNDD-FDD) Chairman Pascal Nyabenda.

Nyabenda stressed that it is not possible to participate in both the electoral campaign and the political dialogue at the same time.

"With regards to the appointment of Abdoulaye Bathily by the UN as the new facilitator, the CNDD-FDD party is grateful to the international community’s concern on Burundi, but in our view, instead of rushing on organizing meetings while we have only five days before elections, it would be better for the facilitator to start investigations on the real situation instead of relying on inaccurate reports written by untruthful writers present in Burundi," said Nyabenda.

The Union for National Progress (UPRONA), which is in the government, also rejected dialogue before elections.

In a press conference held Tuesday, UPRONA Secretary General Gaston Sindimwo said:

"The UPRONA will not attend any political dialogue before elections."

Despite the boycott by the ruling party (the CNDD-FDD) and the UPRONA, the opposition and the civil society attended the dialogue that resumed Tuesday at the office of the UN Electoral Observation Mission in Burundi (MENUB).

The dialogue started secretly on May 5 between the government, the opposition and the civil society under the auspices of the MENUB.

In the aftermath of the regional summit held in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanazania on May 31, the opposition refused the facilitation of Said Djinnit, accusing him of "siding with the government" and last weekend, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed Abdoulaye Bathily as the new facilitator.

The opposition and the civil society are against the third term bid of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza in the upcoming presidential election.

The unrest caused by protests that kicked off on April 26 mainly in the country’s capital Bujumbura has left more than 70 deaths, according to the Burundian civil society.

Burundi is to hold elections in June and July, with the legislative and communal polls due on June 29.

The electoral campaign for legislative and communal polls is expected to end on June 26.

The presidential election is to be held on July 15 and senatorial elections on July 24.

- Xinhua


Zambia: Group files petition to extend president stay to 5 years

A petition filed by private citizens before the Lusaka High Court today seeks to postpone the planned presidential elections next year while giving President Edgar Lungu a full five-year term.
However, since this news was made public, members of the government have come forward to denounce the petition as a fake.

Lungu, who was elected during the last presidential elections on January 20, was serving out the remainder of the five-year term of the late President Michael Sata, who passed away in the fall of 2014.

According to a copy of the petition viewed by Zambia Reports, President Lungu of the Patriotic Front party deserved a full five-year term of office and the petitioners are asking the High Court to accordingly uphold his term of office and not to discriminate against him because his election was prompted by the vacation of office.

The petition was submitted by the law firm of Messrs Robson Malipenga and Company, who was formerly known to have represented the former Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba in his tribunal matter and also for representing the Voluntary Separatee Association of Zambia (VSAZ) in a contentious dispute with the government. Malipenga submitted the petition to extend Lungu’s presidency on behalf of his clients Richard Mumba, Simemeza Syachikwe and Wright Musonda.

The petition claims that Zambia is not obligated to hold another presidential election in 2016, which would cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, when President Lungu was duly elected in a free and fair election and should be entitled to a full five-year term.

The petition addresses the interpretation of articles 23 (1) and (3) 28 (a) 38 (1), 34, 35 (1) and (4) (c), 67 (1), 88 (6) (a) and nullifaction of article 35 (4) (c) and 88 (6) (a) of the Constitution for being discriminatory for an elected President through death or resignation of incumbent President. The claimants also argue that Presidential elections are independent of National Assembly elections.
The petition is likely to draw fierce resistance from Zambia’s opposition which is hoping to compete in the 2016 contest.


Zambia: Public angry at president supporters’ petition to delay elections

Lungu was elected in the January presidential election necessitated by the death of former president Michael Sata last year. He is serving out his predecessor’s term which expires next year.

In the petition, the president’s supporters require the court to postpone next year’s elections, arguing that Lungu deserves a full five-year term of office as “he was elected in a free and fair election.”

However, many Zambians have taken to social media to express their anger over the petition, saying that a precedent was already set in 2008 when former president Rupiah Banda served a period of three years following the death of ex-president Levy Mwanawasa.

“He (Banda) did not call for a full five-year term and nothing has changed since then,” netizen Maybin Mwape, said on Facebook, adding that the bid “will not go anywhere.”


Burundi: Key facts in tense elections

Parliamentary elections on June 29 come ahead of a presidential vote on July 15, when President Pierre Nkurunziza is due to make a controversial bid for a third consecutive five-year term. Here are key facts about the vote.
100 seats
Some 4.8-million registered voters out of a population of 10-million are due to cast ballots for 100 lawmakers. More than 2 200 candidates, representing 16 parties, coalitions or independent candidates are in the race for a seat. Lawmakers are elected for five years but can take up seats only if their parties receive more than two percent of the national vote.
Ethnic balance
Under the constitution, based on peace deals that paved the way for the end of a 13-year civil war in 2006, there are strict ethnic quotas in Parliament.
Parliament must be made up of 60% from the majority Hutu people – who make up some 85% of the population – with the remaining 40% of elected seats reserved for the minority Tutsi. At least 30% of seats must also be held by women.
Three extra seats on top of the 100 voted for are reserved for the Twa ethnic group, which make up some one percent of the population. Extra seats may by handed to female MPs or ethnic groups if the thresholds required are not met in direct elections.
Parties and leaders
CNDD-FDD: the ruling party of President Nkurunziza is an ex-rebel Hutu group, whose youth wing is the Imbonerakure, a fearsome group whose name means “The Watchmen” or, literally, “Those Who See Far”. The Imbonerakure are accused of being a militia force by the UN, carrying out a string of attacks.
UPRONA: the Union for National Progress, the main Tutsi party, and close to the CNDD-FDD.
FNL: the National Liberation Forces, another Hutu former rebel group, once a CNDD-FDD rival during the civil war, but now allies.
Independents of Hope: candidates led by Nkurunziza’s two main opponents - Agathon Rwasa, formerly FNL leader, and Charles Nditije, formerly UPRONA head, who were ousted from their parties but remain powerful challengers to the president.
MSD: Movement for Solidarity and Development, led by exiled ex-journalist Alexis Sinduhije.
Democratic Alliance for Change (ADC-Ikibiri): a coalition of a dozen opposition parties, dominated by the mainly Hutu party FRODEBU.
Disputed process
The opposition has threatened to boycott elections, as it did in 2010, if it believes polls are not free and fair, conditions it says so far have not been met.
Western countries and the African Union have given up on sending election observers, while the influential Catholic Church has pulled its priests from election commissions.
Opposition groups have also criticised the national election commission – two of its five members quit saying they had been pressured to validate polls at all costs. The two members have been replaced – illegally, the opposition claims.
Chaotic financing
Polls were meant to be funded by both government and international donors but after street violence the foreign funding was cut. The government has filled the gap by borrowing some 28-million dollars.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ghana: Group wants local elections day declared holiday

September 1, 2015 must be declared a public holiday in Ghana to encourage more people to vote in the local government elections, the Centre for Local Governance Advocacy has appealed.

“The CLGA is rigorously reiterating its earlier call on government to declare the day a holiday, thus expects September 1st 2015, the day for the local government elections, to be declared a public holiday. It is the position of the CLGA that in order to give the true meaning to Article 35(6d) of the 1992 constitution, which states that ‘the state shall take appropriate measures to make democracy a reality by … affording all possible opportunities to the people to participate in decision – making at every level of national life and in government’ efforts must be made to promote voter participation in all local level elections. By this, popular participation in decision making and participatory democracy will be enhanced,” a statement signed by Dr Vladimir Antwi Danso, Ag. Executive Director of the Centre said.

It added: “Also, the dwindling voter turnout in previous local government elections, coupled with the failed March 3rd attempt at conducting the elections, call for pragmatic steps not just to ensure that the election is held but to ensure that there is increased participation in the September 1st elections. To achieve this, the CLGA is of the firm belief that declaring September 1st as a public holiday is a sure way of achieving grand participation.”

Below is the full statement:

The Centre for Local Governance Advocacy (CLGA) has noted with contentment the successful maturation of the CI 89, and commends Parliament for doing due diligence in passing the CI. The CLGA also commends the Electoral Commission for coming out with modalities for the now September 1st 2015 District Assembly and Units Committee Elections. The Centre also commends the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for holding the fort.

The CLGA is rigorously reiterating its earlier call on government to declare the day a holiday, thus expects September 1st 2015, the day for the local government elections, to be declared a public holiday. It is the position of the CLGA that in order to give the true meaning to Article 35(6d) of the 1992 constitution, which states that ‘the state shall take appropriate measures to make democracy a reality by … affording all possible opportunities to the people to participate in decision – making at every level of national life and in government’ efforts must be made to promote voter participation in all local level elections. By this, popular participation in decision making and participatory democracy will be enhanced.

Also, the dwindling voter turnout in previous local government elections, coupled with the failed March 3rd attempt at conducting the elections, call for pragmatic steps not just to ensure that the election is held but to ensure that there is increased participation in the September 1st elections. To achieve this, the CLGA is of the firm belief that declaring September 1st as a public holiday is a sure way of achieving grand participation.

The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the National Commission for Civic Education, Civil Society Organizations and relevant stakeholders are encouraged to step up efforts to boost awareness and participation.

The Ministry for Local Government and Rural Development must come out with a clear date to swear in or inaugurate the assemblies after the September 1st elections.

The Electoral Commission, in delivering on its mandate, is strongly advised to quality assure its decisions to avert any unnecessary setbacks.

The CLGA is calling on all well-meaning Ghanaians of voting age to partake in the district level elections.


Vladimir Antwi Danso
Ag. Executive Director

Source: Ghana/starrfmonline.com/103.5FM

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

DRC: Consultations on local elections reach climax

The week was a busy one for men and Congolese politicians and especially for President Joseph Kabila. In the final stretch of the consultations will be discussed in future local elections. The Head of State will meet with the presidents of both chambers of Parliament. It could reveal the contents of the deputies of citizens complaints.

The latest consultations of President Kabila to take place this week. Musicians and magistrates would be among the last on the list. And to close, the head of state has planned to convene an inter-agency meeting, including a meeting with President of both Houses of Parliament.

This is the inter-institutional meeting that may be agreed upon date of the convening of the special session of Parliament. A session that was announced last week at the conclusion of the meeting between President Kabila and national parliamentarians and members of the opposition had boycotted.

This special session will be dedicated to discuss the draft law on the distribution of seats for the elections. With the possibility of adopting the text, there are about ten days, was rejected in the National Assembly , as well as by the opposition of the majority. Already, the opposition decided to dry the sessions of this special session, on the grounds that this is a ploy for President Kabila to remain in power.


Guinea: 2 major opposition parties merge for October 11 election

Having traveled to Ouagadougou on 19 June, the leader of the UFDG, Celou Dalein Diallo, announced they have entered into a political alliance with Moussa Dadis Camara, leader of FPDD (Patriotic Forces for Democracy and Development) in the Optical Presidential October 2015. A surprising alliance since 2009 the soldiers of the junta led by Dadis Camara had bloodily suppressed an opposition rally, including targeting militants UFDG.

To those who thought that a massacre separated Diallo and Camara , the two men have just proven that in politics nothing is insurmountable. Diallo is aware that Camara was never charged or molested for events of 28 September 2009 and is now estimated that it is not up to him to accuse the former chief junta.

It leaves that task to the justice: "  There almost 150 people have died, others are missing. I really wish that the perpetrators and instigators of these crimes are arrested. But I can not me by now designate such as guilty. I hope that justice do its work objectively and independently , "is he justified.

Reasoning that allows him to enter into a political alliance with the new party of Moussa Dadis Camara, the FPDD. Asked whether his supporters understand this alliance, the leader of UFDG is affirmative. For him, his constituents understand that to win the next presidential UFDG needs allies of whatever kind. But Moussa Dadis Camara who created a party, announced his return to Guinea and has to report to the October presidential and he enjoys some popularity in Forest Guinea, his home region which is a big deal in the battle for the presidency. And Diallo intends to take advantage when the second round.

And morality in that? For once it is the RPG, Alpha Conde's party give a lesson to the opposition. Amadou Camara Damaro MP confided to the site Guineenews . For him Diallo has sold his soul. And the MP quoted Malraux: "  We do not do politics with morality, but it does not make more without it.  "

CAR: Massive voter registration slated for June 27 in election calendar

In Central African Republic, the National Authority elections (NSA) released, Friday, June 19, an ambitious electoral calendar, which sets the constitutional referendum in October 4, the first round of legislative and presidential simultaneously on October 18, and the second round of these elections to 22 November. However, and before that, the NEA will launch a large voter registration throughout the country on June 27 for a month.

Voters will be asked to register on the electoral lists in offices located all over the territory during the electoral census scheduled to begin on 27 June and be completed on 27 July. It is a colossal work for the archives that survived the crisis are rare. The NSA has renounced the biometric enrollment , but the next voter card will have a number of personal information and photo.

Reached by RFI, Julius Ngouadé-Baba, deputy spokesman of the NSA, invites his compatriots to register massively and get well, by the same token, an identification document. "  The National Informatics Office still has some lists of 2011. But we can not work with this list for the simple reason that the requirement of the Electoral Code would, this time, the option which was arrested by the National Authority elections after consensus or just a computerized list with voter cards on which there will be pictures. So, we have to take the registration to zero because the registered voter must also have his picture on that list  , "he said.

"  It would be a very good thing, says Ngouadé-Baba, because the crisis we have experienced has caused very great destruction. So, most of our countrymen no longer have documents in place of ID. Also, a voter card that would contain information on the affiliation of the person's place of residence and photograph - without this replaces the national identity card - can be used for identification of Central African to be registered the electoral list. I therefore invite my fellow citizens to register as voters massively . "

Is the timing tenable?

For the former Prime Minister, Nicolas Tiangaye, and current president of the Conference of Presidents of AFDT platform, the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the transition, it is necessary that the NSA can receive the expected funding for the deadline to be tenable . "  This is possible provided that the National Authority elections can balance its budget by $ 18 million  , "said he has on RFI, adding that a transition is expected to be very short, that, therefore, do not stay there "  indefinitely  . " He thinks it is important to have institutions that have "  popular anointing  "and thus end the current year with democratic elections.

Nicolas Tiangaye also stresses the situation of refugees and displaced persons who can not all vote "  What we want is that the majority of the population can participate in these elections. This is our wish. Néanmois, under current conditions, it will of course be difficult for everyone involved, especially since we have about 400,000 refugees in neighboring countries and 500,000 IDPs. We must therefore also take account of all these elements there.  "

Cyriaque Gonda, president of the National Party for a new Central (PNCN) party of former presidential majority under François Bozizé, consider, meanwhile, we can expect some slippage or some delays but it important not to exceed December 2015. "  We can actually organize referendums, parliamentary elections and the presidential in October, November, December. This is the period that I consider appropriate. We could have had a minimum of security, we would have already started the costs of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR)  , "he told RFI.

"  Elections are a vital operation for a nation, especially a nation that is in crisis as the CAR. December will be a deadline, so that we give hope to our people. From 2016, a new beginning with a new founding act that should really help us return to the community of nations  , "said Cyriaque Gonda, President of PNCN.


Ethiopia: Ruling party wins all parliamentary seats

Ethiopia’s ruling party says it has overwhelmingly won the 2015 parliamentary elections, claiming 546 out of 547 seats in legislative body for a five year term.

For the past five years, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and their affiliated parties have faced only one opposition member in parliament, and one independent member often voted with the ruling party.

Beyene Petros, leader of the largest opposition party, Medrek, says the election results are "absolute nonsense," saying the results have no credibility and do not reflect voter interests.

The current lone opposition member in parliament, Girma Seifu, says he will not return, even if the last seat goes to the opposition.

Despite nearly 100 percent voter support for EPRDF at the polls, Merga Bekana of Ethiopia's National Election Board says all elections were conducted in a free and fair manner.

"It is the duty of the board to announce the decision of the people and that the mandate is in the hands of the Ethiopian people to elect their representatives," he said, adding that there is a chance the last seat will also go to the EPRDF.

"[Vote counting] for that seat, which is located in the Southern Nations, Nationalities Regional State, was extended by the board previously," he said.

Opposition parties have filed complaints about harassment and intimidation in the weeks leading up to the elections. The government has denied most of these accusations, though the electoral board has investigated some of the complaints.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Burundi: Rivals trade blame over grenade attacks ahead of elections

Burundi's government and opposition on Monday traded blame for grenade attacks that killed four people and wounded around 30 in ongoing violence a week ahead of key parliamentary elections.

The troubled central African nation has been in crisis since late April over President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial bid to stand for a third consecutive five-year term, a move branded by opponents as unconstitutional and a violation of a 2006 peace deal that ended 13 years of civil war.

Many fear a repeat of that violence, which split the country along ethnic lines between the majority Hutus and minority Tutsis, as well as between rival factions within those groups.

The European Union on Monday threatened sanctions against those involved in the violence.

Presidential communications chief Willy Nyamitwe blamed the opposition for the unrest, saying they wanted a replay of the situation in 2010 when they boycotted polls.

"This terror campaign has a similarity with what happened in the aftermath of 2010," he said, blaming the attacks on "politicians and civil society activists who promised the people that there will be no elections at all in 2015."

View galleryBurundi has suffered months of political and civil …
Burundi has suffered months of political and civil unrest over President Pierre Nkurunziza's con …
Parliamentary elections are planned for June 29, ahead of the presidential vote on July 15.

The opposition rejected any involvement in violence, condemning the attacks "in the strongest terms" and accusing the government of trying to "exploit" them to get rid of their opponents.

"Our movement is and will remain peaceful," said Jeremiah Minani, spokesman of the Arusha Movement coalition, which includes opposition parties and civil society groups opposed to Nkurunziza's third term.

"We think it could be a plot to sow terror, and to blame that on his opponents in order to stop those who oppose the third term."

- 'Attacks are related' -

View galleryBurundians who fled their country, wait to be registered …
Burundians who fled their country, wait to be registered as refugees at the Nyarugusu camp in north  …
Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers threatened to sanction individuals involved in Burundi's political violence.

"The EU is determined to adopt, if necessary, targeted restrictive measures against those whose actions would have led or lead to violence and repression in serious violations of human rights," it said in a statement.

The grenade blasts, which took place overnight Sunday to Monday, were the latest in a string of attacks in recent days. On Friday night, 11 police officers were wounded in a series of explosions.

The most serious attack was in the northern town of Ngozi where a grenade was hurled into a bar, killing four and wounding 25 others, 10 of them seriously, a police officer said, adding that three suspects had been arrested.

In the neighbouring northern Kirundo province, another person was wounded in a blast, while a grenade was also thrown into a bar in the northeastern Muyinga district, although no one was hurt in that attack. In Bujumbura, two policemen were wounded by a grenade on Monday morning.

"These people want to frighten the population to prevent them from voting," said Muyinga district governor, Aline Manirabarusha.

"It is clear that all these grenade attacks are related to each other, this is a terror campaign organised by opponents of the third term of President Pierre Nkurunziza, to destabilize and try to prevent the elections," a senior police officer said.

Last week, the Burundian human rights group Aprodeh said at least 70 people have been killed, 500 wounded and more than 1,000 jailed since late April, when the opposition took to the streets to protest Nkurunziza's bid to remain in power.

More than 100,000 people have fled the violence to neighbouring countries.

Nkurunziza survived a coup attempt last month and has since faced down international pressure, including aid cuts, aimed at forcing him to reconsider his attempt to stay in power.


Central African Republic: Elections slated for October 18

Central African Republic will hold presidential and parliamentary elections, seen as critical to drawing a line under a two-year inter-religious conflict, on Oct. 18, a spokesman for the interim government said on Thursday.

The country descended into chaos in March 2013 when the predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, sparking reprisals by "anti-balaka" Christian militia, who drove out tens of thousands of Muslims from the south in a de facto partition of the landlocked country.

A transitional authority currently in place is charged with organizing elections and restoring democratic rule.

The polls have repeatedly been delayed, however, and a national peace forum last month said that a previous timetable that would have seen elections held in June or July was unrealistic.

Georges Ndamoyen, a spokesman for the transitional authority, said the new election calendar had been agreed upon following a meeting between government officials and donors on Thursday.

The polls will be preceded by an electoral census from June 27 to July 27 and a referendum on a new constitution on Oct. 4, he said. A second round of elections, if required, will be held on Nov. 22.

The polls will require a total budget of 20 billion CFA francs ($34.6 million) of which around half had already been collected from government resources and donor funding, Ndamoyen said.

Although the violence in Central African Republic has eased in recent months, sporadic killings still occur, fueled by criminality though deep divisions between Muslims and Christians persist.

A Justice Ministry statement read on state radio on Thursday stated that a court in the capital Bangui would on June 29 begin trying around 50 cases of alleged crimes involving acts of violence and economic infractions.

The announcement follows interim President Catherine Samba Panza's signing of a law earlier this month creating a Special Criminal Court to judge crimes committed during the last two years of turmoil.


DRC: Differences persist in elections

In the DRC, there fortnight Congolese President has initiated consultations with all actors of civil society. This week, he received the deputies, senators, media owners and students. Each time, the message is the same: we must go to elections in a peaceful climate and support the peace process initiated by the ruling party. Still, the different personalities that Joseph Kabila met expressed divergent views. The most obvious being those between the lower house and the upper house.

For the president of the National Assembly, Aubin Minaku , no question of touching the electoral calendar. All elections are important and we should all organize.

But this requirement says nothing about how to proceed to meet that schedule. The government still has not announced how much money will be released to finance the seven ballots. No electoral material was ordered. Finally, the law on the allocation of seats , prior to the organization of local was rejected by MEPs. A special session should be convened shortly to enable the adoption of this famous law.

For its part, the Senate has been much more critical about the current process. Its chairman, Leon Kengo Wa Dondo , proposed revising the timetable to make it feasible, even group a number of polls. He also called for the envelope over a billion dollars to fund the elections is reduced.

Finally, he said, it is essential to integrate new major. These five or ten million young people - nobody knows exactly - come of age after 2011, so they can vote in each election. These rather divergent from those of the majority remind the membership of Senate President for the opposition.

Given these differences, Joseph Kabila has planned to organize a meeting between the two chambers. The aim is to harmonize their positions as these divisions may not be tenable for long. This inter-agency meeting should be organized early next week.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Burundi: CENI supports the new electoral calendar

"On and there issues surrounding the electoral process of 2015, the majority of Burundians wishes go to elections," says the president of the CENI, Pierre-Claver Ndayicariye in a given press briefing Wednesday, June 17 He believes that "the electoral partners must do everything to respect the will of the people."
In a statement read by Philippe Nzobonariba, spokesman and secretary of the Government, he said that the announced electoral calendar following the top of the AU in Johannesburg, is final.

The president of the CENI electoral commission says the wishes "the massive presence of both national and international observers for there to be free and transparent elections."

On the issue of withdrawal of the Catholic Church of the electoral process, the M.Ndayicariye response is unequivocal: "the withdrawal of priests does not mean the removal of all Catholics of the elections." And adds: "before being Catholic, it is first Burundians".

Finally, the CENI notes that the withdrawal of voting cards continues the headquarters of each This (independent municipal electoral commission).


Burundi: Government accepts the proposals of the AU, subject to conditions

After four days of intense reflection, Burundi just react to the communiqué of the meeting of the Board of the Peace and Security of the African Union during the weekend, particularly devoted to the crisis in that country. The government does not say no to the proposals of the African Union, but sets conditions.

Officially, the Burundian government is willing to work with observers of human rights , but also with military experts to be responsible for the disarmament of militias in Burundi. But power sets conditions for their deployment.

" We say we are willing to work with the African Union,  and said the Burundian foreign minister, Alain Aimé Nyamitwe . But we are accurate in any case come from the countries from which these military experts, their number, they have a specific mandate. Everything will depend on the speed with which the African Union will take it in this case.  "

It will be difficult in these conditions, deploy observers and other experts within two weeks provided by the Board of peace and of the African Union . The head of the Burundian diplomacy considers that the most important in this case is that "  Bujumbura expressed its willingness to facilitate such a mission  . "

Despite such opening, the power does not let anything on the Burundian problem node, the issue of the third term of President Pierre Nkurunziza. The press council does evokes nowhere says Burundian minister.

Even firmness on the issue of the electoral calendar  , "  we do not touch  ", while the African Union advocates a new consensual calendar. "  If the government says that avoiding a constitutional vacuum is a red line, this should be understood by everyone. There is not a single government in the world that would accept this kind of adventure  . "

Under these conditions, difficult to know what would be the subject of political dialogue that the African Union called for all his vows, puisqu'officiellement communal and legislative elections scheduled in ten days have already taken place.

This categorical refusal of any change in his electoral calendar obviously boosted civil society. Master Bigirimana January, is Secretary General of Focode, organization participating in the campaign to Stop the 3rd mandate. He said the international community must now be firmer with power.

"  President Nkurunziza wants to continue his electoral forcing but still forget that the dialogue has already made ​​its fruits in our country. The ruling party wants to go to elections, which is still against democratic values. It is well known today that this is the only ruling party to campaign solo, forgetting that there must be a democratic competition with all the other actors in the Burundian political life. Today we want to take us into a kind of chaos. Tougher sanctions are necessary in view of that arrogance.  "


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Burundi to take centre stage as African leaders meet

Leaders meet in Johannesburg on Sunday for an African Union summit which will be dominated by the political unrest in Burundi and the migration crisis in the continent.

Burundi has been plunged into a period of instability sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza's push to run for a third five-year term.

Violent protests have left around 40 people dead and 100,000 people have fled the country, raising peace and security concerns in the region.

Other crises like the threat posed by Islamist militant groups are also on the agenda in Johannesburg.

"The situation in Burundi is still unresolved... and Nigeria, which is supposed to be an important player, still has challenges around Boko Haram," said Tjiurimo Hengari, research fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs.

"I see the next two years being very challenging, especially in light of a new threat that is emerging on the horizon -- the issue of constitutional revisions to allow sitting heads of state third terms and fourth terms."

But the summit, which often fails to grapple with thorny issues, is likely to be overshadowed by the expected presence of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir.

Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court over war crimes charges, faces arrest if he lands on South African soil, and has not visited the country since his indictment by the court in 2009 and 2010.

As a signatory to the Rome Statute which established the ICC, South Africa is obliged to arrest the Sudanese leader.

AU spokesman Molalet Tsedeke told AFP Saturday that he had been informed that Bashir was expected to attend the meeting.

"He is coming," said Tsedeke.

- Divided on ICC -

African leaders remain divided on the ICC statute, with AU chairman Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe urging African leaders in January to pull out of the treaty.

Mugabe and South African President Jacob Zuma are among those scheduled to speak on Sunday.

Also attending is Nigeria's newly-appointed President Muhammadu Buhari, whose country is battling the onslaught of Islamist group Boko Haram.

The leaders of Africa's other major economies, Egypt and Angola, are absent.

The summit in South Africa's economic capital comes two months after a wave of xenophobic violence swept parts of Johannesburg and Durban as African immigrants were hunted down and attacked by gangs.

At least seven people died in the unrest, which badly strained relations between South Africa and many countries in the region that were outraged at the targeting of their citizens.

In what African Union analyst Liesl Louw-Vaudran said is an unusual move, the subject of xenophobia will be tackled in a closed session before the opening ceremony on Sunday morning.

The session will also discuss migration -- and will likely focus on the flood of African and Middle Eastern migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean.

Mass drownings have claimed nearly 1,800 lives so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.

The two-day summit comes only five months after the last gathering of AU heads of state in Addis Ababa in January.

-Johannesburg (AFP)

Rwanda: Ruling party wants president Kagame to run for third term

KIGALI (Reuters) - Senior members of Rwanda's ruling party have endorsed a change in constitution so President Paul Kagame can seek a third term in office, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) said on Monday.

A bid by neighbouring Burundi's president to be re-elected to a third term next month triggered weeks of violent protests by opponents who said the move violated the constitution. But analysts do not anticipate a similar eruption in Rwanda if Kagame runs again, citing his stronger grip on power.

About 3.6 million people have signed a petition urging parliament to change the constitution but the effort has been tainted by media assertions that some of Rwanda's 11.8 million people were forced to do so by officials.

Rwanda's constitution limits presidents to two seven-year terms. Kagame, who was re-elected with a landslide in 2010, said in April that the constitution had been drawn up by the people and they would determine any changes to the charter.

Kagame has not said if he would support the move. In early April, he said he disagreed with initiatives to amend the constitution but was "open" to being convinced otherwise.

Critics accuse Kagame, 57, of trampling on media and political freedoms. But he has also won international praise for the progress made since the 1994 genocide toward transforming Rwanda into a middle-income country by 2020.

Burundi was racked by unrest after President Pierre Nkurunziza's announcement on April 25 that he would seek a third term. However, protests have largely died down in the approach to the July 15 presidential election.

The RPF issued a communique backing a constitutional change after about 600 high-ranking members held a two-day retreat on the outskirt of the capital Kigali this weekend.

"Based on the wishes of Rwandans and party members that have been recently expressed, we support that the (constitution)... should be amended," the communiqué said.

Kagame said local political leaders should not force anyone to sign the petitions. "If the allegations that some people have been forced are true, that’s a concern and you should also have that concern," Kagame told RPF members.

(Reporting by Clement Uwiringiyimana; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Source: http://af.reuters.com/