Monday, November 30, 2015

Burkina Faso: Elections results show ex-PM takes commanding lead

By Mathieu Bonkoungou (Reuters) - Former Prime Minister Roch Marc Kabore appeared to have a strong lead on Monday as results poured in from an election to choose the first new president in decades in Burkina Faso.

Provisional results from around 41 percent of the West African country's communes showed that Kabore had 54 percent of the vote against 29 percent for Zephirin Diabre, a former finance minister, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Kabore was prime minister and president of the National Assembly under longtime leader Blaise Compaore who was toppled by an uprising in October 2014 after ruling for 27 years.

Diabre was minister of finance in the 1990s in Burkina Faso, an exporter of gold and cotton but largely impoverished, before stepped down to go into opposition.

Sunday's peaceful election could serve as an example for democratic transition in Africa, where veteran rulers in Burundi and Congo Republic have this year changed the constitution to set up a fresh term in office for themselves.

"The people of Burkina Faso have once more shown their profound attachment to democracy by holding a peaceful vote," said Michaelle Jean, secretary general of the International Francophonie organisation.

"I invite all the candidates and political parties, but also the Burkinabe population, to respect the results," she said in a statement.

The election represents a pivotal moment for a nation ruled by leaders who came to power in coups for most of its history since independence from France in 1960.

Compaore seized power in a coup, ruled for 27 years and won four elections, all of which were criticised as unfair. He was toppled by protests when he tried to change the constitution to extend his rule even further.

Kabore heads the Movement of People for Progress (MPP), made up of disaffected allies of Compaore who left the party months before he stood down. Diabre leads the Union for Progress and Change (UPC), which was the formal opposition.

Analysts say that of the 14 candidates who ran only Kabore and Diabre stand a real chance of winning and a second round of voting may be on the cards. A parallel election for the National Assembly also took place on Sunday.

Many people say their priority is for the new president to promote economic growth in the impoverished, landlocked country.

The election was pushed back from Oct. 11 because of an abortive coup in September by members of the elite presidential guard, in which transitional President Michel Kafando and his prime minister were taken hostage.

That coup cost more than $50 million in lost revenue, trimming growth by 0.3 percentage points. The guard has since been disbanded. Kafando will step down once a new leader is sworn in.

(Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

Burkina Faso: Elections suffer low turnout

Burkina Faso voters are electing a president and parliament on Sunday, one year after a violent public uprising forced the West African country's long-time leader out of office.

Two out of 14 candidates had emerged as favourites.

One is former prime minister Roch Kabore, 58, of the People's Movement for Progress; the other is former finance minister Zephirin Diabre, 56, of the Union for Progress and Change.

Turnout appeared low in the morning, partly because many people were at church, but appeared to increase in the afternoon, observers said.

Minor irregularities were reported, such as a lack of equipment or some voters not finding their names on voting lists at some polling stations.

The elections come a year after an uprising against plans to modify the constitution to allow then president Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year rule.

Thousands of people protested in the capital Ouagadougou against the plan, which was cancelled amid violence and pillaging, while Compaore fled the country.

A transitional government was put in place with fresh elections set for October, but a coup attempt led by Compaore loyalist General Gilbert Diendere in September delayed the vote.

Diendere, who led the 1 200-member presidential guard in taking interim President Michel Kafando captive, has since been taken into custody by government forces.

Campaigning in the run-up to the elections was incident-free since the coup.

Kabore, who left Compaore's party out of opposition to extending his rule, is regarded as the forerunner against Diabre.

Both candidates have promised to boost economic growth in the agriculture-driven economy, which has a population of about 17 million.

The former French colony, known as Upper Volta until 1984, is a low-income country, with per capita income at $670 in 2013.

The UN's Human Development Index ranked Burkina Faso the 181st out of 187 countries in 2014.

Nearly 5.5 million voters were registered to vote.

If none of the candidates receives 50% of the vote, a second round will be held about eight days after the results, which are expected on December 5.

Source: DPA

Burkina Faso: Elections well organised

By Daniel Finnan
Turnout is expected to be high in Burkina Faso's landmark elections on Sunday, according to the electoral commission. Voting was well organised with a few isolated incidents at polling stations seen by RFI and as reported by domestic observers. The polls are the first since the ousting of former strongman Blaise Compaore who ruled the country for 27 years.

"A considerable, strong turnout at polling stations," said Barthelemy Kere, head of the electoral commission, on Sunday evening. Kere described the vote as "generally satisfactory" as counting got underway.

Some 50 critical incidents were reported during polling, according to domestic observer group Codel, who had some 6,000 monitors overseeing the countries almost 18,000 polling stations. The grouping of civil society organisations said there were problems relating to logistical issues.

In a statement, Codel provided statistics on the reports their observers had compiled in an initial assessment. Nearly 99 per cent of polling stations had opened by 7am on Sunday, an hour later than they were scheduled to open. Four members of polling station staff were present at 94 cent of the sites and security forces were in place at 93 per cent.

At some 30 polling stations RFI visited on Sunday voting was mainly carried out in an organised, peaceful manner. However, logistical problems hampered voting at two polling stations.

A polling station at Ecole Saint Bernard in the Kadiogo district of Ouagadougou had yet to receive its voter registration list by mid-afternoon. Some frustrated voters had been waiting since 5am, but without the list staff were unable to correctly verify people and could not begin the process. An official from the electoral commission eventually arrived and promised to solve the problem.

At the Yamtenga polling station in Karpala on the edge of Ouagadougou the situation was more unusual. Some 50 voters were waiting outside a supposed polling station which had no staff present or voting materials. Staff at nearby polling stations said they had been in touch with the electoral commission. It was not clear whether this problem was caused by logistical difficulties or a breakdown in communication.

Several international observer groups monitored Sunday's polls including the European Union and regional bloc Ecowas.

"We were really impressed by the organisation," Tulinabo Mushingi, US ambassador to Burkina Faso, told RFI. The US embassy deployed some 70 staff members to observe the vote. Mushingi said minor problems with the vote were "expected" given the number of polling stations.

Mushingi said it was too early to speculate about candidates or parties not accepting the results. The US diplomat said "everybody's watching" and once the results come out "there are legal ways of contesting the results" if that is necessary.

Burkinabe voters had 14 presidential candidates to choose from in Sunday's polls and some 3,500 candidates in legislative elections. Preliminary results are expected on Monday evening.

Source: (Through

Burkina Faso: Vote counting under way in elections

Counting is under way in Burkina Faso where voters have been choosing a new president and parliament after a year of political turmoil.

It is the first election since last year's popular uprising which toppled longstanding president Blaise Compaore.

The vote was due to have been held last month but was delayed by a failed coup in September led by members of the elite presidential guard.

Provisional results are expected by Monday evening.

Long queues formed outside many polling stations before they closed at 18:00 GMT.
Security has been tight with up to 25,000 troops and police deployed across the country and foreign observers oversaw the poll.

The election is meant to mark the end of the transitional period following Mr Compaore's removal. Analysts say it could be the most open and democratic vote in the country's history.

"It is a victory for the youth that has expressed its will for change and for real democracy," said transitional President Michel Kafando as he cast his vote.

Former President Blaise Compaore was forced from office by street protests in October 2014 over his plans to serve another five-year term. He had been in power for 27 years.

A transitional government was installed but the country was thrown into turmoil again in September when members of the elite presidential guard led a short-lived coup. The attempt failed and the guard was disbanded.

Mr Compaore, 64, is now living in exile in neighbouring Ivory Coast.
Fourteen candidates are standing for the presidency and reports suggest that Roch Marc Christian Kabore and Zephirin Diabre are the front-runners.

Economist Mr Diabre has served as minister of economy and finance before he fell out with Mr Campaore in 2010.

Mr Kabore served as prime minister and chairman of the Congress for Democracy and Progress party (CDP) before leaving the party in 2014, after opposing plans to extend Mr Compaore's rule.

If no candidate wins an absolute majority in the first round, a second round will be held.

Source: BBC

Friday, November 27, 2015

Burkina Faso: Turkey supports election with $265K

[By Selim ALTIN] Turkey has donated $265,000 to Burkina Faso in support of Sunday’s general elections in the West African state, the country’s independent electoral commission announced on its website.

Korkut Tufan, Turkish ambassador to Burkina Faso, handed the aid to Barthelemy Kere, the chairman of Burkina Faso Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

Speaking during the ceremony Wednesday at the CENI headquarters in Ouagadougou, Tufan said he came to encourage the electoral commission’s effort to guarantee transparent, free and peaceful elections.

The Turkish diplomat also said that the donation is the support of Turkish people to their “friends and brothers” of Burkina Faso.

He added that he is waiting for the outcome of the elections and the installation of a new government that will initiate many development projects.

CENI chairman thanked the Republic of Turkey for their support and said that the electoral commission is ready for the Nov. 29 poll.

Burkina Faso’s general elections will end the transition established after a popular uprising that ousted President Blaise Compaore in October 2014.

A national election was initially scheduled for Oct. 11 2015 — the country’s first poll since Compaore was toppled one year ago after 27 years in power and replaced by Interim President Michel Kafando.

Burkina Faso’s transition to democracy was shaken, however, by a failed coup attempt on Sept. 16. Kafando was reinstated after being briefly arrested by the coup leaders.

The government set Nov. 29 as the new date for general elections in the country.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Burkina Faso: Election observers ready for 'extraordinary' elections

By Daniel Finnan
In Burkina Faso, electoral observers are readying themselves for this weekend’s landmark polls. Codel, a grouping of civil society organisations, is deploying some 5,000 observers to monitor elections temporarily derailed by a failed coup attempt in September. The polls are seen as key to the country’s transition to democracy following last year’s ousting of strongman Blaire Compaore.

“We’ve living in a very extraordinary time in Burkina,” Ismael Diallo, a member of Codel’s expert committee, told RFI. “This is the first time in more than 30 years that we don’t know who’ll be president.”


Codel hopes to ensure that the election is transparent and produces results acceptable to all parties. It has set up five permanent offices and 45 focal points across the country from which to manage a team of 5,000 observers.

Observers will monitor the situation at various polling stations and report via text message on questions such as staffing and electoral materials. These reports will be collated by a 50-strong team at Codel headquarters who will flag potential issues or problems that need to be dealt with.

Action on fraudulent activity or problems on polling day will be decided upon by an expert committee who will determine whether to raise particular issues with the country’s electoral commission.

“We hope that all the candidates will accept the outcome,” says Diallo. “Our electoral commission is well-equipped”, he adds, referring to preparations for the polls.

Codel’s election observation aims to make sure that civil society can react quickly to any potential problems on polling day. The group is using technology from One World Platform to connect observers across the country, a system that has been used previously in Senegal, Mali and Sierra Leone.

Elections in Burkina Faso are the result of a popular uprising which last year ousted former president Blaise Compaore who had ruled the country for 27 years. However, a coup in September temporarily overthrew a transitional government led by Michel Kafando. The transitional government was eventually reinstated following protests and negotiations led by regional bloc Ecowas.

There are a number of electoral observation missions in place for Burkina Faso’s polls including from the European Union and Ecowas.


Egypt: Second phase of elections record 29.83% turnout

The second phase of the parliamentary elections saw a 29.83% voting turnout, the Supreme Elections Committee (SEC) announced on Wednesday.

In a press conference at the committee’s headquarters, head of SEC Ayman Abbas announced that the participation in the second stage of the elections amounted to 8,412,011 votes out of 28,204,225 eligible voters.

There were 7,839,611 valid votes, while the voided votes counted to 572,400, representing 6.08% of the total votes. South Sinai and Kafr El-Sheikh had the highest voting turnouts in all 13 governorates, with 41.06% and 36.82% respectively. Suez saw the lowest turnout with a 18.1% participant rate while Cairo came second to last with 19.96%.

The committee said 2,893 candidates ran for 222 individual seats and 60 list-based seats in the second phase of the elections.

Only nine candidates won the majority of votes, managing to secure their seats from the first round. The run-offs for the remaining 213 seats are scheduled to take place on 1 and 2 December.

“For the Love of Egypt” swept all electoral lists, winning all 60 contested list-based seats in the first round of the elections. The committee also announced that a total of 37,141 Egyptian expats caste their votes in 139 embassies and consulates around the world.

The voting turnout of Egyptians abroad increased by 21.65% in the second phase of the elections as number of votes in the first phase totalled at 30,531, which represented around 4.5% of 680,000 eligible voters.

Saudi Arabia had the highest voting turnout of Egyptians abroad with 30.4% participation rate, Kuwait came second with 18.3%, followed by the UAE at 12.7%. No votes were casted in Liberia, Mozambique, Benin, Serbia, or Panama.

The press conference was scheduled to take place on Tuesday but was postponed after the attack on the hotel housing judges in North Sinai that left seven people dead.

“Terrorism will not hold judges back from performing their historical role,” Abbas said. Although there were some violations, they were limited and legal decisions were taken against violators. “Violations did not affect the image of the electoral process,” he said.


Egypt: 19 female candidates compete in runoff elections

The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) said women competed strongly in various constituencies in the second phase of parliamentary elections.

The centre said that 19 female candidates are competing in the run-off elections, where Cairo, Sharqeya and Daqahleya had the most female candidates.

The preliminary results of elections revealed that five women are entering the run-offs in Helwan, Masara, Nasr City and Heliopolis. The centre said the competing women are Manal Khalifa, Dina Abdul Aziz, Fatma Naaot, Susan Fawzi and May Gaballah.

In Sharqeya, women achieved a high number of votes in the second phase, where four women are joining the run-off.

Director of ECWR Nehad Abu El-Komsan said women are entering the next parliament, as 19 women are in the runoff phase, a bigger number than first phase runoffs, which saw eight women.

El-Komsan said women had a successful competition with men for individual seats, although women had smaller budgets than men.

She said Egyptian women were masters in the election process, proving to be leaders in parliamentary election results.

There were 258 female candidates running out of 3,072 total candidates, which amounts to 8.39%, out of which 167 were independent female candidates from 2,877, which amounts to 5.8%, while 91 female candidates were on electoral lists from 195, which constitutes 46.6%

By Nourhan Elsebah


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Burkina Faso: ECOWAS deploys 133 to observe election

The Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) has announced the deployment of a short-term electoral observation mission to the Burkinabe presidential election scheduled for Sunday, 29 November 2015.

The former president of the transition in Guinea-Bissau, Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, has been chosen to lead the sub-regional blog’s 133-member short-term electoral observation mission on the Burkinabe presidential election.

The ECOWAS mission, due to be deployed pursuant to ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, will mainly aim at ensuring the proper conduct of the electoral process to ensure free, transparent and credible elections.

The observers will be deployed throughout the country to observe and monitor all operations before, during and after the elections and present a report on the electoral process. The observation will particularly involve regularity, transparency, fairness and proper conduct of presidential elections.

14 candidates are running for the elections previously postponed in the wake of the failed coup of 17 September 2015. The candidates include Ram Ouédraogo, Ablassé Ouédraogo, Zéphirin Diabré, Victorien Tougouma and Tahirou Barry. Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, Jean-Baptiste Natama, Saran Séré Sérémé, Françoise Toé as well as Bénéwendé Sankara are also running for the elections. Issaka Zampaligré, Adama Kanazoé, Boukaré Ouédraogo and Salvador Yaméogo are also hoping to run for the Burkina Faso presidential elections.

A statement from the sub-regional blog today, Tuesday, November 24, 2015, says the mission will comprise of 133 observers, including 13 long-term and 120 short-term observers. The short-term observers will come from all ECOWAS Member States, excluding Burkina Faso, the Community Court of Justice, the ECOWAS Council of the Wise and the ECOWAS Parliament. The short-term mission team will also include representatives of national electoral commissions in the region as well as experts trained at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Accra, Ghana.

On the other hand, the statement added, the 13 long-term observer team will include experts in security matters, gender issues, electoral operations, constitutional law and communication.

“The short and long-term mission teams will be supported in the field by the ECOWAS Commission’s technical support team composed of the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security and the Director of Political Affairs, Mrs Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman and Dr Remi Ajibewa respectively. The head of the ECOWAS Electoral Assistance Directorate, Mr Francis Oké, and several other ECOWAS staff will also join the team” the statement indicated.

After the elections, the ECOWAS election observation mission will give its opinion and, when the need arises, make recommendations to the various stakeholders in the electoral process, following the opening remarks of the head of the mission, Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, at a press conference scheduled for 30 November 2015 in Ouagadougou.

ECOWAS appeals to all candidates, political party leaders and their militants and supporters to ensure that the elections are held in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility and a spirit of national cohesion.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Ghana: Economic Intelligence Unit predicts 2016 elections

Ghana’s major opposition party the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has been highly tipped to win next year’s general elections, the latest report of the UK-based Economist Intelligence Unit states.

According to the EIU’s November edition, the elections will be close, but the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) will lose, despite the challenges bedeviling the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition now.

However, the report said the outcome of the elections is by “no means a foregone conclusion”.

It outlined the largest opposition party in Ghana needs to work around the clock to garner votes outside its stronghold while maintaining internal unity.

The EIU cited the politically-motivated murder of the Upper East regional chairman of the NPP Adams Mahama as one of the low points of the party in 2015, but highlighted the party was able to “show a more united front during its subsequent primary elections.”

The report noted the NDC will continue to enjoy strong support in the east and northern sectors of Ghana, owing to historical and tribal allegiances.

It went ahead to state that Greater Accra – a historical swing state – will be a key battle ground, but said the NDC government’s mishandling of the June 3 fire and flood disasters among others and subsequent efforts to avoid a repeat “by clearing slums could well cost its votes.”

The Unit also mentioned some of the indicators pointing to a one-term presidency for John Mahama include the poor handling of the economy, electricity and fuel shortages, high inflation and currency depreciation.

“A growing number of protests against the National Democratic Congress government’s management of the country are expected, particularly, in the capital and economic hub Accra disrupting business operations there,” the Unit predicted.

“These protests are expected to peak in the early part of the forecast period when the economy is at its weakest.”

The report said public anger in extreme cases, can snowball into mass action as seen in a number of Arab countries in recent years and closer to home in Burkina Faso in 2014.

Source: Ghana/

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Benin: President vows to handover after 2016 polls

 (Xinhua) -- Benin's President Boni Yayi said Tuesday in Cotonou that he will handover power in April next year to the winner of the presidential elections whose first round will be held on Feb. 28, 2016, an official source revealed.

"The Beninese people will elect a new president who will guide our country's destiny. I want to reiterate that the Beninese people will, in a peaceful and stable environment, identify and choose the best person who will lead our homeland, Benin," he said.

The president who was speaking during the third edition of political dialogue between Benin and the European Union, said plans to amend the 1990 Constitution had been shelved.

"All that was being said about a hidden agenda in the government's plan to amend the Constitution was false," he said.

Despite the president stating on numerous occasions that he was not trying to amend the Constitution so that he can contest for a third term, the opposition political class and the civil society groups insisted that was his real motive.

The government, on its part, had insisted that the proposed amendments were only meant to promote the rule of law, reinforce the country's democracy and lay solid grounds for Benin's economic development.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nigeria: Electoral body, police tasked to run credible governorship polls

Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari has cautioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigerian Police against giving in to undue pressure from some unscrupulous politicians to taint the integrity of elections.

Buhari gave the warning during a meeting with INEC officials and authorities of the Nigerian police, which the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) last week raised alarm over the meeting, alleging suspicions.

Reacting to the development, the Senior Special Assistant to the president on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said that the President had warned INEC and the police against any form of impunity during the elections.

Shehu explained that Buhari had suffered electoral manipulations in the past and wouldn’t want a repeat of such against anyone in future elections.

“The President called the meeting cited by the PDP to warn in particular, the INEC and the Police to prepare and give the nation a credible election. He said he expected nothing short of a free, fair and credible election,” Shehu said.

“The meeting was short and straight to the point. It ended after five minutes,” he added.

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Burkina Faso: Candidates begin campaign for legislative elections

Parties and candidates running for the 28 November parliamentary elections in Burkina Faso, are busy engaged in the campaign, barely 24 hours following its launch, APA learns Monday in the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou.

Thus, Burkina Faso is now living to the rhythm of the twin elections (presidential and legislative). Indeed, after the launch of the campaign for the presidential election on 8 November, it was the turn of the legislative candidates to join the dance, as from last Sunday.

The note-worthy change is the coming into play of new parties; in addition to the other ten parties which were already in the campaign (14 candidates are running for the presidency, including four independents).

Among the major parties which are campaigning for the legislative elections are the Congress for Democracy and Progress, former ruling party, whose presidential candidate was unsuccessful in the nominations.

The other big party is the Alliance for Democracy and Federation-African Democratic Rally (ADF/RDA) of Mr. Gilbert Noël Ouedraogo whose candidacy for president was also rejected.

These two parties and many others such as the Faso New alliance (NAFA) and the Union for a new Burkina (UBN), set their sights on the legislative elections, according to their senior officials.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which is in charge of organizing the elections said it has registered 6,944 candidates for the 127 available positions in the country’s National Assembly.

These candidates, among whom there are, according to figures from the INEC, 4,870 men and 2,074 women, are from 81 political parties and 19 independent groups.

Among the legislative candidates, some are also participating in the presidential election as party leaders.

This is the case, for instance, of Saran Sereme, president of the Party for Development and Change (PDC), Ablasse Ouedraogo, president of the Faso Differently and Kanazoe Adama, President of the Youth Alliance for Independence and Republic (AJIR).

MPs who will be elected in the 29 November twin polls, will replace those of the National Transitional Council (NTC), set up in November 2014, after the popular uprising that caused the fall of Blaise Compaore and the dissolution of the former National Assembly.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Niger: Opposition leader arrested after exile

[AFP] Niger’s opposition presidential candidate Hama Amadou was arrested on Saturday on his return from a year in exile over allegations of baby trafficking, a party colleague said.

“He was arrested on alighting from the plane. Police presented him with a warrant issued for his arrest,” said lawmaker Amadou Salah.

The former prime minister and national assembly president fled the country in August last year to escape baby trafficking charges.

According to Salah, after leaving the plane Amadou was led to a car and taken to an unknown destination.

Security forces blocked the route and access to the area as the two-time former premier was driven away.


Late Saturday, Niamey Governor Hamidou Garba confirmed that Amadou had been detained in line with a “correctly executed warrant” and told state television that “Niamey has confronted a rebellious movement comprising Modem supporters.”

Garba added that “defence and security forces have shown their professionalism to avoid matters pointlessly and dangerously spilling over” into unrest.

Earlier, a reporter witnessed clashes between security forces and supporters of Amadou’s Modem party outside the airport.

After sporadic clashes throughout the day, calm returned as night fell around 7pm.

The party’s Niamey headquarters was also cordoned off.

Niger: Election committee admits to errors in voter lists

(Reuters) - Niger's election committee on Sunday admitted to errors in its electoral lists three months before a presidential election, confirming earlier complaints made by the opposition.

Two weeks ago, thousands of people marched to protests against vote preparations, demanding an audit from President Mahamadou Issoufou's government.

Issoufou -- a key Western ally in the fight against Islamist militants in West Africa -- is widely expected to seek a second five-year term in February 2016 and is the current favorite, with the opposition fragmented and one leader in jail.

"There are failings in the voter lists," said Sabiou Gaya, deputy coordinator for the election committee, adding some of the errors included enrolment mistakes and missing polling booths.

Corrections are expected to be completed by Nov. 22, he said. Officially, the final list was due to be handed to the Independent National Electoral Commission by end-October.

On Saturday, Niger opposition leader Hama Amadou was arrested when he flew into Niamey as security forces blocked off the airport, a year after he fled the country when sought by investigators probing a child trafficking ring.

The former ally of Issoufou was transferred to the Filingue prison overnight, about 160 kilometers (99 miles) northeast of Niamey, security sources said on Sunday. He has denied the charges and claims they are politically motivated.

Another challenger to Issoufou, Abdou Labo, was officially named as a presidential candidate by his Democratic and Social Convention party (CDS) on Saturday.

Labo was also briefly detained for involvement in the trafficking of babies into Niger from neighboring Nigeria last year, an allegation he denies.

(Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalaki; Writing by Emma Farge)

Uganda: Electoral commission warns parties to go by rules

The electoral commission of Uganda has warned political parties and their presidential candidates to stick to rules in the recently signed memorandum of understanding that requires them to end their daily campaigns at 6 p.m. local time or face consequences.

Electoral commission spokesman Jotham Taremwa said the electoral body was pleased with the conduct of the campaigns so far but warned that parties and their candidates could face sanctions if they continued to flout stipulations they agreed to abide by.

His comments came after officials of the electoral commission monitoring the campaigns said some of the parties were campaigning after 6 p.m., which the officials say flouts the accord they signed.

"So far we are pleased with the presidential campaign, apart from receiving some reports that some of the candidates were not sticking to the 6 o'clock closing time for their rallies," Taremwa said. "But we issued a statement, and since then we haven’t gotten reports of that kind. So, so far, so good.”

Meanwhile, the electoral commission has suspended the nomination process for the lord mayor position for the capital, Kampala.

Officials said the electoral commission made the decision because Frank Tumwebaze, minister for Kampala, had yet to present to the commission the guidelines on how the election in the city should be administered as enshrined in the Kampala Capital City Authority Electoral Act.

The nomination process for lord mayor was set for November 16-20, but Erias Lukwago, the incumbent lord mayor and a prominent opposition leader, accused the electoral commission of colluding with President Yoweri Museveni and his ruling National Resistance Movement party to deprive residents of Kampala of the constitutional right to choose their leaders.

Lukwago and his supporters threatened to picket the commission offices next week to demand that the electoral body accept his nomination forms.

Local media quoted Lukwago as saying, “Whatever [the electoral commission] is saying is idle talk. ... The program was released, indicating that we are going to be nominated from November 16 to November 20 and gazetted.”

But Taremwa denied the electoral commission was doing the bidding of the president and the NRM. He said the electoral body was duty-bound to implement the law in order to organize the Kampala vote, and "we haven’t received a copy of those regulations" pertaining to the city election.

"Therefore, our hands are tied," he said. "We cannot proceed to organize elections without regulations. As soon as those regulations have been tabled in parliament and we are served with a copy, we will announce the program for nomination for the lord mayor of Kampala.”

Source: VOA

Tanzania: Zanzibar officially cancels elections

Zanzibar the semi-autonomous archipelago has officially annulled its elections held last month after rising tension and violence over the self-proclaimed victory by the opposition before the official results were announced. The local election commission in Zanzibar scrapped the Zanzibar presidential vote saying “gross violations” had been committed.

Agence France-Presse reported that despite the negotiations that are continues between Tanzania and Zanzibar it looks more likely that a rerun will have to take place.

Rafi Haji, Zanzibar information ministry official told AFP that “the date for fresh elections will be announced later.”

Since the elections there has been an upsurge of violence in the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar creating cause for concern. At the end of last month two bombs exploded just minutes apart in the main city. They are suspected to be connected to the discontent over the elections.

The hope is that if new elections are held within Zanzibar the process will go smoothly.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ghana: Political parties demand 2016 elections roadmap from EC

General Secretaries of political parties in Ghana have asked the Electoral Commission (EC) release a timetable for elections in 2016.

The General Secretaries of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), New Patriotic Party (NPP), Convention People's Party (CPP) and the People's National Convention (PNC) met under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) to deliberate on election and other matters ahead of next year’s polls.

The party General Secretaries meet every month under the IEA Ghana Political Parties Programme (IEA-GPPP) to find solutions to, and deliberate on pertinent national issues.
At the last meeting of the Platform of General Secretaries held on November 4, 2015, participants noted that a key issue of concern to them is  the purported management of the EC database by STL Company.

“Members called on the EC to publicly clarify the nature of its relationship with STL, and clearly spell out the role STL will play in Ghana’s 2016 elections,” said a communiqué released after the meeting.

Below is the full communiqué released after the last IEA-GPPP meeting.

As part of their commitment to deepening democracy in Ghana, leaders of political parties under the IEA Ghana Political Parties Programme (IEA-GPPP) meet on a monthly basis to deliberate on pertinent national issues in a non-partisan way to reach consensus and find solutions. The last meeting of the Platform of General Secretaries was held on 4th November 2015 at The IEA. It was attended by representatives of the four political parties with representation in Parliament, namely NDC, NPP, CPP and PNC.

As part of their deliberations, members discussed Ghana’s Preparations ahead of the 2016 General Elections. They made key recommendations for safeguarding the interest of the nation before, during and after the elections.


Electoral Commission
•  The Platform called on the EC to be proactive and act with urgency in view of the closeness of the 2016 elections. It called on the EC to publish a clear timetable of activities leading up to the elections. This should include plans for implementation of the recommendations submitted by the Electoral Reform Committee.

• The Platform noted that a key issue of concern regarding the work of the EC was the purported management of its database by STL Company. Members called on the EC to publicly clarify the nature of its relationship with STL, and clearly spell out the role STL will play in Ghana’s 2016 elections.

• Members of the Platform noted that there was wide consensus that Ghana’s Voters Register contains illegal entries. The Platform therefore urged political parties and all other stakeholders to work closely with the EC to ensure that Ghana has an acceptable Register ahead of the 2016 elections.

• The Platform called on politicians to eschew pronouncements which tend to undermine the peace and cohesion of the country. In particular, they cautioned against reckless threats to Ghana’s peace and security as a way of getting the EC to meet their demands regarding the Voters Register.
Security Agencies

•The Platform expressed concern about the over politicization of Ghana’s security agencies. It called on all security agencies to act with professionalism and neutrality in the discharge of their duties, particularly in dealing with electoral issues.

•Members of the Platform recommended that the educational and professional training curricula of the military, police and other security agencies be enhanced with modules on managing election-related security issues. This is necessary in order to bring the professional conduct of Ghana’s security agencies at par with international best practice standards.

•The Platform strongly condemned election-related criminal offences, and called for prosecution of all such offences. These include offences such as multiple registrations, impersonation, etc. Additionally, past allegations of unlawful conduct of presiding officers to undermine the integrity of the poll must be investigated and prosecuted accordingly.

•Members condemned the practice of clash politics, where the media pitch one political commentator against another in a way so as to incite harsh exchanges and engender ill feeling among politicians.

•The Platform further called on all politicians to put Ghana’s interest above all else, and resist being used as agents of clash politics by the media.

•Going into Election 2016, the media must act with circumspection and be guided by principles of truth and a consideration of the broader national interest.

Issued this 4th November, 2015 by the Platform of General Secretaries under the IEA Ghana Political Parties Programme represented by:

Mr. Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, General Secretary, National Democratic Congress (NDC)

Mr. Kwabena Agyepong, General Secretary, New Patriotic Party (NPP)

Nii Armah Akomfrah, General Secretary, Convention Peoples Party (CPP)

Mr. Bernard Mornah, General Secretary, Peoples National Convention (PNC)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ghana: Peace Council fears 2016 election violence

The chairman of the National Peace Council, Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante, has expressed worry over what he described as “entrenched positions” taken by some political parties on how to hold successful elections.

The National Peace Council is collating views from political parties, civil society organisations and individuals on how to ensure a trouble-free polls next year.

Most Rev. Prof. Asante said the dialogue, which is being held in Koforidua in the Eastern region, was imperative to advise stakeholders on how to hold a peaceful election in 2016.

“We also came close to it [violence in 2008, 2012], are we going to be fortunate in 2016? We need to sit back and learn from what happened in 2012 – the successes and the challenges that confronted us in 2012. We need to talk about that and say to ourselves what we can do to avoid those challenges,” he told the media.

“At the end political parties should be able to say we have learned from each other and know the things we need to avoid and promote to ensure peaceful electioneering campaign and peaceful elections.”

“We want the nation to be first in our thinking,” the religious leader said.

Most Rev. Prof. Asante’s comments come after calls by the opposition New Patriotic Party for the country to have a new voters’ register ahead of the 2016 elections. Leading members of the NPP including the flagbearer Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo have on several occasions stated that the EC has lost its credibility.

The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has insisted the current register is credible and should be maintained for the 2016 elections.

Source: Ghana/

Monday, November 9, 2015

Burkina Faso: Parliament settles on two-term limit set for presidents

Burkina Faso lawmakers on Thursday overwhelmingly voted in favour of setting a two-term limit for presidents, a year after veteran ex-leader Blaise Compaore was ousted in a popular revolt for trying to extend his time in office.

The constitutional amendment adopted by the National Transitional Council, as Burkina's interim parliament is known, stipulates that presidential terms are limited to two five-year mandates.

"Under no circumstance may anyone exercise more than two presidential mandates in Burkina Faso either consecutively or intermittently," the text reads.

The president is elected for a five-year mandate and "is eligible for re-election just once", it added.

The amendment was approved by 88 of the 89 MPs present.

The move comes after Compaore provoked mass anger by seeking to change the constitution to extend his 27-year grip on power, triggering street protests that forced him to flee the country in late October 2014.

This year has also seen unrest in Burundi, Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo over the suspected or confirmed attempts by leaders to remain in power after serving two terms.

To prevent future leaders of Burkina Faso from trying to cling to office, lawmakers in Ouagadougou enshrined the new amendment under provisions of the constitution that cannot be modified.

"No project or proposal to revise the constitution is admissable if it challenges the clause limiting the number and duration of presidential mandates," according to the adopted text.

The MPs also voted to abolish the proposed new Senate that Compaore tried to push through in 2013, but which never saw the light of day in the face of strong public opposition and complaints that such a body would be costly and unnecessary.


Uganda: Presidential campaigns kick off today

According to the roadmap by the Electoral Commission, Presidential campaigns are supposed to officially kick off today.

The NRM’s presidential flag bearer Yoweri Museveni, who is seeking a fifth term, will launch his campaigns today in Luweero where he started the bush war that brought him to power in 1986.

FDC’s Dr. Kizza Besigye, who is running for presidency for the fourth time, will launch his campaign today in his home town of Rukungiri.

The TDA Go Forward Alliance’s flag bearer John Patrick Amama Mbabazi who is backed by six opposition parties (DP, UPC, Justice Forum, UFA, SDP, and PPP) will be in Masaka town.

Tension has already started to build up following the burning of a vehicle (Nissan UAB 873L) belonging to Mbabazi’s mobilizer for Greater Masaka Meddie Kikomeko who was distributing his presidential candidate’s posters on Saturday.

Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba will start his campaigns today in Kayunga town, and PDP flag bearer Dr Abed Bwanika will be in Kamuli town.

The independent Coalition’s candidate Eng. Joseph Mabirizi will have a joint platform with Mauren Faith Kyalya in Iganga town.


Burkina Faso: 14 candidates kick off campaign for presidential race

(Reuters) - Presidential hopefuls in Burkina Faso kicked off campaigning on Sunday for an election meant to restore democratic rule and choose a successor to longtime leader Blaise Compaore, who was ousted in a popular uprising last year.

Compaore's attempt to change the constitution in order to extend his 27-year rule was met with mass protests that forced him to resign and flee the country, a poor, cotton-producing state south of the Sahara desert. Since then, the West African nation has been governed by a transitional administration.

Fourteen candidates are vying for the presidency in what is expected to be an open and hotly contested poll on Nov. 29.

Among the frontrunners, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, a former prime minister and parliament speaker who left Compaore's party early last year, held his first rally in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso's second largest city.

Organisers said the event drew a crowd of around 30,000 people, some of whom chanted "President, President" as Kabore entered the football stadium where it was held.

"This is the first truly democratic campaign in our country. As a candidate, I ask all of our supporters to make this a responsible campaign," he told the crowd.

Zephirin Diabre, the former leader of the opposition during Compaore's regime, held his opening rally in Fada N'Gourma, an important market town in the east of the country, before several thousand supporters.

Meanwhile Benewende Stanislas Sankara, another frontrunner who claims to be the political heir to former Burkina Faso leader and African folk hero Thomas Sankara, launched his campaign in the western town of Solenzo.

"I hope that the campaign will take place in peace and harmony. I ask all the candidates to get along with each other," Georgette Sanou, a homemaker in Bobo-Dioulasso, said on the first day of the campaign.

Burkina Faso's year-long transition was nearly derailed in September when members of the elite presidential guard led by Compaore's former spy chief Gilbert Diendere staged a coup attempt.

While the week-long putsch ultimately failed, it forced the transitional authorities to push back the presidential and legislative elections, which were originally scheduled for Oct. 11.

The transitional government changed the electoral law in April to exclude anyone who supported Compaore's bid to remain in power.

The controversial measure led to the exclusion of Eddie Komboigo, the candidate for Compaore's Congress for Democracy and Progress, as well as former foreign minister Djibril Bassole.

Bassole was arrested in the wake of the coup attempt on charges that include colluding with foreign forces to destabilise interior security. However, his lawyer claimed last week that the case against him was politically motivated.

(Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Digby Lidstone)