Friday, December 18, 2015

Ghana: General elections to cost $300 million – EC

The Electoral Commission (EC) has revealed that Ghana might spend about GHC 1.2 billion ($308,483,290) on the general elections.

Chairman of the EC, Madam Charlotte Osei, who presented the Commission’s budget estimates to Parliament on Thursday, said the budget was premised on 30,000 polling stations.

“… We also premised the budget on an exchange rate of 3.89 cedis to the dollar. The total budget for the elections is GHC 1,470,000,000. if we include the administration and other costs which are not directly election related, it gives us a budget of 1.2 billion. In the budget ceilings we have announced by the Finance Ministry, we have a budget of 800 million for elections, the first round so this gives us a funding gap of 400 million Ghana cedis.”

She further revealed that the Finance Ministry had made provisions for a run off.

“This budget does not include the cost of auditing a new register. There is some provision for a run off, the Ministry of Finance made a provision of 200 million. I think we have a budget of about 350 million, so there is another shortfall there. However the budget makes provision for all the reforms which we have agreed with the political parties.”

The Minority leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu on the same floor of Parliament expressed concerns over the EC’s budget, saying the cost of conducting elections in Ghana is consistently increasing.

“The Commissioner tells us that in 2008, the total expenditure on the elections was $ 138 million. At the time the voting populace was about 11 million so that indeed translated into about 12 dollars, 30 cents per head. That figure was good because the average for Africa is 13 dollars per capita per head.

“Now entering 2012 it shot up to 267 million with a population of about 14 . 2 million, it came up to about 18 dollars, 80 cents per capita. That was far above the average for Africa, which is 13 dollars. We are coming to 2016 and the figure that is being given to us is 269. I am only saying to the EC , that we want the elections to have integrity but it is getting astronomical and it’s getting too high.”

By: Marian Ansah/

Ghana: New voters' register to cost $900m

The Electoral Commission says it will cost the nation a whooping 900 million dollars to put together a totally new voters' register for next year's general elections. However, the Commission says a decision on whether to have a new voters' register for the election would be taken by the end of December

Briefing Parliament Thursday evening on preparations towards the elections, the Chairperson of the Commission, Mrs Charlotte Osei, said the five-member committee that evaluated the concerns expressed on the register is expected to present its report next week, TV3 reports.

The Minority in Parliament, she reports, have refused to accept the estimated figure quoted by the Commission because they insist the amount is too much considering that other countries in the sub-region with higher population than Ghana do not spend such amount in similar exercise.

The country's electoral roll has come under scrutiny from a number of pressure groups and political parties including the New Patriotic Party over claims that it has been infiltrated by foreign nationals, particularly from neighbouring countries.

While some political parties are demanding for a new voters' register , others are calling for it to be cleaned.

Following from that, the EC constituted a five-member committee which hold a two-day public hearing in Accra to gather views on the issue, and make recommendations to the EC for consideration. The EC explained that it took such a decision due to “petitions and calls it had received from some political parties, civil society groups and a number of Ghanaians for a new voters’ register.”

Meanwhile, speaking in Parliament, Mrs. Osei said the Commission will submit a Legislative Instrument to Parliament to seek approval for the decision for the country's general elections to be shifted from December to November.

Again, she told the House that the Commission was considering suggestions to use lecturers and professors in the 2016 elections to serve as returning officers, and national service personnel as electoral and polling agents.


Ghana: 2016 election re-run won't go beyond Nov. 30 - EC

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, (EC), Charlotte Osei, has told Parliament that the 2016 general elections will not go beyond November 30, 2016, even if there is a run-off.

The 2016 parliamentary and presidential elections in Ghana would be held on November 7, after it was moved from the traditional December 7 after the constitution review committee’s recommendations were approved by government.

Mrs. Osei was in the Law House to brief members on her outfit’s preparation towards the 2016 general elections.

She also elaborated further on the activities and preparedness of the commission to organize free, fair and transparent elections in 2016.

The EC boss also told the Parliamentarians that eligible voters who will be directly involved in election duties on the day of elections are likely to cast their vote on November 3, 2016.

That means, members of the Ghana Armed Forces, Ghana Police Service, Ghana Prisons Service, Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority, Ghana National Fire Service, EC officials and staff of essential services will cast their vote four days ahead of the general elections.

Source: Ghana/

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ghana: US to equip journalists ahead of 2016 elections

The US Embassy in Ghana has assured it will offer special training in election coverage to Ghanaian journalists ahead of the 2016 elections.

According to the new Press Attaché’ at the US Embassy, Sara Velduizen Stealy, the move will form part of America’s contribution towards ensuring a credible and peaceful polls in Ghana.

Speaking to in an interview, Veldhuizen Stealy said the US will continue to play its role to promote a healthy democracy in Ghana.

“The US Government recognizes there is a lot of elections coming up in the coming year and reporting on elections is essential to democracy and so we are making online courses available to journalists.

“These courses are free and will provide the fundamentals of reporting on elections and how to provide the fair and unbiased coverage that will help the audience focus their minds on the issues that are important to them,” she stated.

She commended the Ghanaian media for the enthusiasm with which they go about their responsibilities. She said the vibrant nature of the Ghanaian media is healthy in the effort to sustain democracy and rule of law in the West African country.

Both the United States and Ghana will go to the polls in November 2016 to elect Presidents.


Somalia: Leaders reach agreement on election framework

[VOA News] National and regional leaders in Somalia have ended three days of talks in the capital Mogadishu on how best to hold elections in 2016.

The leaders decided to dissolve the government next September but are not prohibiting President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the 275 members of parliament from seeking re-election.

The assembly also decided the next election model will be based on a combination of district and clan process, a comprise that emerged because the country’s main regions are split on whether to task responsibility of electing the lawmakers to clan elders or district representatives.

Somalia's first government, after a prolonged civil war, was chosen by 135 clan leaders who met in Mogadishu in 2012.

The United Nations Envoy to Somalia, Nick Kay, told the Somali leaders that this time the process must include “an element of choice.”

“No more nominations of MPs [members of parliament]. There must be an opportunity for some people to vote for a choice of candidates…it brings the process closer to the people,” he said.

Mohamud said the agreement reached in Mogadishu was one of compromise, with each side getting some of what it wanted.

“I want to tell the Somali people that no one should expect to get everything they want," he said. "Also, no one should be afraid if what they wanted is missing and was not included.”

He said the leaders will meet again in the town of Kismayo on January 10 to iron out final issues.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Ghana: We’ll be “resolute, objective” in election 2016 – Police

The Ghana Police Service has served notice it will ensure the highest standard of professionalism next year as the country prepares for a crucial parliamentary and presidential elections.

The oil-producing West African country will be heading to the polls for the seventh time under the Fourth Republic to elect Members of Parliament and a new president.

Stakes are high as incumbent president John Dramani Mahama eyes a second term and hopes to avoid becoming the first one-term leader under the Republic while opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo is looking forward to avoid three-straight defeats, having lost in 2008 to the late Evans Atta Mills and again in 2012 to Mahama.

The Greater Accra regional police command said it is going to be “resolute” in the discharge of its duties and will engage all stakeholders to ensure a “peaceful” election.

“The police shall continue to ensure that there is law and order – before, during and after the elections,” the new regional commander COP Dr. George Dampare told the media on Tuesday.

He added: “I want to take this opportunity to assure all that the regional police command will be resolute, objective and professional in the discharge of our duties throughout the entire election periods and beyond.”

According to COP Dampare, the regional command is in the process of finalizing its security arrangement for the whole of the election process, adding “We shall use the whole of January 2016 to engage all stakeholders including all political parties, the electoral commission, religious bodies, civil society organisations, the media to get their input into our overall regional security plan.”

“I must also say that the engagement process with these stakeholders shall be a dynamic one such that at a point that we prepare the plan if in the course of time anything of significance has come that bothers on security that needs to come to our attention that continues engagement with stakeholders, we’ll bring it to bear to modify our plan to ensure that we are able to deliver a peaceful and secured environment for the whole election process to go on smoothly.

“The police will do whatever it takes to ensure that the peace of our country is not compromised before, during and after the elections,” the commander added.

Source: Ghana/ 

Ghana: Ruling NDC retains seat in by-election

Forty-one-year-old Economist Eric Afful of the National Democratic Congress has been elected as the Member of Parliament for the Amenfi West constituency in the Western region.

Afful polled 15,809 (52.64%) votes to retain the seat for the NDC while his main contender Mr. Paul Derkyi, 43, a lawyer representing the opposition New Patriotic Party had 13,079 (43.54%) of the total valid votes cast in Tuesday’s by election.

The Progressive People's Party (PPP) managed 1,032 votes (3.44%) while the UFP came fourth, having polled 113 votes (0.38%).

According to Starr FM's Ibrahim Alhassan, voter turnout was 49% of the total 62,364 registered voters in the constituency.

The by-election follows the demise of the National Democratic Congress Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, Mr John Gyetuah.

The Amenfi West Constituency is one of the oldest constituencies, since its creation, the constituency after the country returned to constitutional rule in 1992, has always voted for NDC until 2003 when the then NDC member, Mr Kofi Asante resigned as MP.

The by-election led to Agnes Samfo winning the seat for the NPP for the first time. The seat returned to the NDC in the general election in 2004 until the demise of Gyetuah.

Source: Ghana/

Ghana: Ruling NDC retains Amenfi West seat in by-election

Forty-one-year-old Economist Eric Afful of the National Democratic Congress has been elected as the Member of Parliament for the Amenfi West constituency in the Western region.

Afful polled 15,809 (52.64%) votes to retain the seat for the NDC while his main contender Mr. Paul Derkyi, 43, a lawyer representing the opposition New Patriotic Party had 13,079 (43.54%) of the total valid votes cast in Tuesday’s by election.

The Progressive People's Party (PPP) managed 1,032 votes (3.44%) while the UFP came fourth, having polled 113 votes (0.38%).

According to Starr FM's Ibrahim Alhassan, voter turnout was 49% of the total 62,364 registered voters in the constituency.

The by-election follows the demise of the National Democratic Congress Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, Mr John Gyetuah.

The Amenfi West Constituency is one of the oldest constituencies, since its creation, the constituency after the country returned to constitutional rule in 1992, has always voted for NDC until 2003 when the then NDC member, Mr Kofi Asante resigned as MP.

The by-election led to Agnes Samfo winning the seat for the NPP for the first time. The seat returned to the NDC in the general election in 2004 until the demise of Gyetuah.

Source: Ghana/

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ghana: Voting underway in Amenfi West by-election

Voting is currently ongoing in the Amenfi West’s by-election in the Western Region as voters elect a new Member of Parliament (MP) replace Mr John Gyetuah after his demise.

Reports say the atmosphere is very calm with polling starting at 7:00 am. 148 police officers have been tasked to man the 102 polling stations in the constituency.

Four political parties are participating in the by-election to replace the late National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP. They include National Democratic Congress (NDC), the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) and the United Freedom Party (UFP).

The four candidates are Mr Eric Afful, a 41-year-old Economist, representing the NDC, Mr Abraham Kwadwo Buadee, a 41-year-old accountant, for the PPP; Mr Paul Derkyi, 43, a lawyer for the NPP and Mr Elvis Adjei, a 30-year-old Loan Administrator for the UFP.

Experts tips the ruling NDC to retain the seat since they have lost the seat once since multi-party democracy was restored in 1992 in Ghana.


CAR: Voting extended for referendum after violence

A referendum on a new constitution in Central African Republic, spilled into a second day on Monday after violence marred the first day of a vote intended to help end nearly three years of instability.

A Red Cross official said five people were killed and 34 others were wounded during clashes in the capital Bangui which the military commander of the U.N. peacekeeping mission said was an attempt by "spoilers" to block the vote.

The referendum is a precursor to long-delayed presidential and legislative elections due on Dec. 27.

"Since 7 o'clock this morning (0800 GMT), thousands of people are voting," said Ousmane Abakar, a spokesman for the Muslim community of PK5, the main Muslim enclave in Bangui and the site of Sunday's clashes.

"We are determined to vote despite (yesterday's) shooting."

Voting was due to end by the afternoon and results should be available within 72 hours, said Marie-Madeleine N'Kouet, president of the National Elections Authority (ANE).

Former colonial power France has been among nations pushing interim authorities to hold elections, saying they are the only way to end a cycle of violence that began when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in 2013.

Since then, thousands of people have been killed and nearly one million people in a country with a population of nearly five million have been forced to flee as militias drawn from the Christian majority have launched reprisal attacks.

Two successive interim governments as well as thousands of U.N. and French peacekeepers have struggled to stop the fighting and disarm militias.

On Monday, the streets of Bangui were calm with soldiers from the U.N.'s MINUSCA mission visible at key junctions.

However, a spokesman for the prime minister's office said that voters in some northern parts of the country were not able to participate because fighters loyal to Seleka commander Noureddine Adam had blocked the vote.

Adam's faction says that conditions, such as the return of refugees, are not in place to allow polls to proceed.

Pope Francis visited Bangui last month to implore Christians and Muslims to end a spiral of hate in a historically unstable country. Clashes halted briefly during his visit but more killings have been reported since.

The country is rich in diamonds, uranium, gold and oil, but its people are among the world's poorest.

Source: Reuters 

Ghana: Nigeria's Ex-EC boss charges Ghana to outshine their elections

The Immediate Past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega has challenged Ghana to conduct an election in 2016 that will be worthy of emulation on the continent.

“Specifically for Ghana and Ghanaians, we now pose a new challenge to you to make your elections better than ours. We used to be vociferous competitors in the football field, the Blacks Stars and the [Super] Eagles, but let us be vociferous competitors in democratic arena,” he challenged.

Professor Attahiru Jega, who was speaking at a forum to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), further charged Ghanaians not to allow the selfish interest of politicians to override collective national interests.

“We should keep on improving peace security and stability in our country, it is very important. The individual objectives of politicians which are selfish, in terms of winning elections,  we should not allow them to override national and collective interest.”

He further emphasized the need for effective knowledge sharing among Electoral Commissions across the continent. There was however no representation from the Electoral Commission of Ghana at the program.

“We need to improve the framework of knowledge sharing among African Electoral Commissions. It is very important that they meet periodically.”

Present among the dignitaries who graced the occasion were the Flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akuffo Addo and the former first lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Ghana: Nigeria's use of lecturers during elections guarantees its integrity – Prof Jega

Former Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Muhammadu Jega, says the use of Lectures and Professors as returning officers during elections in his country in 2011 and 2015 ensured the integrity of the electoral process.

“In the two elections that we conducted in 2011 and 2015 where they [Lectures and Professors] played these roles, not a single person had been accused of any fraudulent activities in the discharge of their responsibilities,” he said.

The respected electoral commissioner told Joy FM's Super Morning Show host, Kojo Yankson, that although the professors and lecturers are not infallible, they were used because they have a track record of credibility.

"We received a lot of criticisms. People ask whether university professors are the only people with integrity. We said no, we have to start from somewhere," he said.

He said INEC had to find innovative ways to restore confidence in the electoral process after previous process received widespread condemnation for lacking integrity.

He recalls that the involvement of lecturers in the electoral process also eased pressure on the regular INEC staff but came at no great cost to the state.

Prof Jega, who is in Ghana at the behest of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) for a lecture, was speaking on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, Monday.

Prof Attahiru Jega will be delivering two public lectures in Accra and Kumasi aimed at shedding light on the recent general election in Nigeria and factors that ensured the credibility of the process.
The rationale for Prof. Jega’s visit is for Ghana and other African countries to draw valuable lessons from his experience and insights.

The lectures are part of efforts by the IEA to promote good governance and credible elections in Ghana.

Prof Jega’s tenure as EC boss in Nigeria is regarded as a watershed period in the West African country – with credible and peaceful elections as his legacy.

He has since become one of the most sought-after figures in Africa and has to date, received several awards, including the 2015 Charles Manatt Democracy Award in Washington DC.


CAR: Violence hits referedum on new constitution

[VOA News] At least six people were wounded Sunday in fighting and gunfire in Bangui as voters in the Central African Republic cast ballots in a referendum on a new constitution intended to stop more than three years of violence.

A journalist with the French News Agency reports seeing two dead bodies and a dozen others in a mosque. But there has been no official word on election-related casualties.

Muslim and Christian militia members, who have been responsible for the violence, have threatened to stop the vote. But the United Nations representative in Bangui, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, said he was proud of the courage of voters who he said "braved every fear and threat."

"Central Africans have marked a historic day in the march to democracy in their country," he said Sunday.

Voters queue outside a polling station in Bangui on Dec. 13, 2015 to vote for the constitutional referendum, seen as a test run for presidential and parliamentary polls scheduled two weeks later aimed at ending two years of sectarian strife in the Central

If passed, the new constitution would limit the president to two five-year terms, cut the power of the military and ensure religious freedom.

Elections for a new president and parliament are scheduled to be held later this month.

Thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands driven from their homes since Muslim Seleka rebels briefly seized power in CAR and ousted President Francois Bozize.

This led to the rise of a Christian militia and brutal fighting between the Christians and Muslims.

Christians are also angered over a court decision barring Bozize from running in the upcoming election.

A U.N. peacekeeping force is in CAR and Pope Francis visited last month, urging peace.


Uganda: 15 million eligible to vote in 2016 elections

A total number of 15,277,196 voters has been compiled and registered in the National voters’ register to be used in the 2016 Uganda General Elections.  Those appearing in the National Voters’ Register will be allowed to cast their votes at 28,010 polling stations distributed across the country.

However, Ugandans in the Diaspora; who did not come home to register during the stipulated period of the registration process of voters will miss out. Only persons whose particulars appear on the National Voters   Register are eligible to participate in the on-going electoral processes, including nomination to an elective position.

Eng. Dr. Badru Kiggundu, Chairperson, Electoral Commission told East African Business week at his office,  which was  an interaction process for the commission to update the public on the conclusion of nominations of candidates for parliamentary Elections and the commencement of the campaign period, as well as other activities related to the Roadmap for the 2015 – 2016 General elections.

He revealed that all the nominated Presidential candidates have already been issued with a soft copy of the Register.

He emphasized that the National Voters’ register shall be the basis for participating in the 2016 general elections, either as a candidate or as a voter. Accordingly, only registered voters  will be allowed  to vote  at the polling station where they are registered, and this shall include  persons whose particulars  and photographs appear on the National Voters Register, whether they have a National Identity card or not, as per section 34 of the Parliamentary Elections Act, 2005.

He cautioned that those who have been issued with National Identity Cards should carry them for purposes of easing identification on polling day.  

He revealed that campaigns for parliamentary elections that kicked off on December 7 will conclude on February 16, 2016 and the polling will take place on Thursday February 18, 2016. However, the period December 15 – 23, 2015 has been blocked to allow parliament to attend to critical national issues.

Kiggundu urges candidates, their agents and the public to adhere to set rules and regulations guiding the campaign period.    Candidates and their supporters are cautioned to refrain from activities that endanger the electoral environment; this includes cutting of trees and tree branches as well as littering.

The electoral commission compiled a National voters’ register for purposes of the 2015 - 2016 General Elections, and for this purpose, extracted the data containing the particulars of registered and verified Ugandan citizens from the National Identification Register.

The extracted data was displayed for public scrutiny at the respective update centres in each parish /ward during the update period from April 7 to May 1, 2015. The exercise had been scheduled to end on 30th April 2015 but was extended twice, from 30th April to May 4th, and again to May 11, 2015.

However the commission announced that effective march 31, 2015, the 2011 National voters register had been retired and gazetted and accordingly, it would not be used for purposes of elections and referenda 2016 and beyond.

During the period the commission conducted an update of the National voters’ register which involved fresh registration of Ugandan citizens of 18 years and above, who had missed out on the registration conducted for purpose of a National Identity Card.  ‘The commission therefore calls on all stakeholders in the ongoing electoral process to refrain from making statements that are likely to misguide the general public,’ Kiggundu concluded.

By Dan Nsalasaata, Saturday, December 12th, 2015


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Benin: Nigeria calls for peaceful elections in Benin

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday commended the efforts made so far by outgoing President of Benin Republic Boni Yayi and the Beninoise National Electoral Commission to ensure a peaceful and transparent Presidential Election in the country next year.

Receiving the Beninoise President at the State House in the nation's capital, Abuja, President Buhari commended the visionary leadership that Yayi had provided for his country for close to ten years, urging him to complete the legacy of patriotism and statesmanship by ensuring a peaceful hand-over of power.

''Whatever happens in Benin is of particular interest to Nigeria because we are very good neighbours.  I will like to congratulate the President of Benin for successfully completing two terms in office, and his plan to hand over power after the elections in February,’’ the President said.

According to the President, Nigeria will need more support from neigbhouring countries in fighting the scourge of terrorism and illegal activities in the Gulf of Guinea that currently undermine the West African economy.

On energy and gas supply to West African countries, the President said discussions were still ongoing among the technical experts from various countries.

In his remarks, the Beninoise President promised that he would do his best to ensure a peaceful and transparent presidential election in his country next year.

President Yayi also emphasized that there was a need for more cooperation in West Africa to confront the challenges of security and infrastructure currently faced by the countries in the sub-region.


Benin: Nigeria pledges assistance for Benin 2016 elections

President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged that Nigeria will assist the Republic of Benin in conducting free and fair general elections in 2016.

The President made the pledge in Abuja on Tuesday at a joint news conference with his Beninoise counterpart, Boni Yayi, after a closed-door meeting at the Presidential Villa.

He congratulated Yayi, who will be completing his second five-year tenure as President of Benin Republic in February 2016.
"He (President Boni Yayi) is going to round up his two terms of five years.

"He will be 10-year old in February as a President. I congratulate him
"Certainly, Nigeria, using its experience of holding elections, will make sure that the election in our neigbouring country has gone on smoothly and as humanly possible.’’

President Buhari stated that Nigeria and Benin Republic have agreed to put in place fresh strategies to check oil theft in the Gulf of Guinea.

The President also promised to expedite action on the request by Benin Republic to link its power turbine with the West Africa Gas Pipeline.

On the forthcoming 40th anniversary of ECOWAS, Buhari assured that Nigeria will host the event in the next nine days.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the closed door meeting between the two leaders dwelt on economic integration, regional cooperation, and security within the West African sub-region.

The two presidents agreed to intensify the on-going efforts to tackle the menace of Boko Haram insurgency under the auspices of the Multi-National Joint Task Force.

In his remarks, President Yayi said that his country was ready to contribute 800 men to the multi-national force.

He said the men were ready and were only awaiting deployment.
Yayi, who spoke through an interpreter, said his country would always support Nigeria in the fight against terrorism and corruption.

While applauding the leadership style of Buhari, Yayi pledged to always cooperate with Nigeria.

"President Buhari took over the mantle of government at a time terrorism, occasioned by the activities of Boko Haram, is high.

"To fight terrorism, Benin is ready to send about 800 men to join the men that are already prepared to fight terrorism. The team is battle-ready for deployment.
"The will-power is there and Benin is committed to deploying the men. Benin will always remain on the side of Nigeria in its trying times.

"The sub-region is also going through serious problems of development. Fighting Boko Haram is becoming difficult because OPEC countries are going through oil crisis.

"We will always stand beside Buhari in his fight against corruption.’’
Yayi also invited President Buhari to attend the burial of former President of the republic, Mathew Kerekou.

Meanwhile, the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) on Tuesday expressed its total support for the Federal Government's anti-corruption agenda.


Ghana: Prof Attahiru Jega delivers 2 lectures in Ghana

The Immediate past Electoral Commissioner of Nigeria, Prof. Attahiru Jega, will visit Ghana from Monday, December 14, to  Wednesday, December 16, 2015 to deliver public lectures.

Under the auspices of the IEA, Prof Attahiru Jega will deliver two public lectures in Accra and Kumasi during which he will shed light on the recent general election in Nigeria and factors that ensured the credibility of the electoral process.

The rationale for Prof. Jega’s visit is for Ghana and other African countries to draw valuable lessons from his experience and insights.

These lectures are part of efforts by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) to promote good governance and credible elections in Ghana.

As EC boss, Prof.  Jega played a leading role in ensuring credible and peaceful elections in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria.

His successful steering of affairs during the recent elections in 2015 ensured stability in Nigeria.
He has since become one of the most sought-after figures in Africa and has to date received several awards, including the 2015 Charles Manatt Democracy Award in Washington DC.

The details of the lectures are: Monday, December 14, 2015 at the Main Auditorium of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Ridge from 4:00p.m. – 7:00p.m. and on Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Kumasi from 10:00a.m. – 1:00p.m.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

CAR: Deposed ex-president barred from elections

Central African Republic's former President Francois Bozize, forced into exile two years ago, was not on the list of eligible candidates for this month's elections, having said in August that he would return to stand.

The polls were set for Oct. 18 but postponed until Dec. 27 after violence in the capital Bangui that has killed about 100 people since September. One person was killed on the outskirts of a Muslim enclave shortly after the Pope's visit last month and eight killed in a camp for displaced people in the country's center.

The president of the constitutional court, Zacharie Ndoumba, included Bozize on the list of rejected candidates. But state media said he had not registered.

[Reuters] A spokesman for Bozize's Kwa Na Kwa party said the court had told them Bozize had not furnished proof of enrollment for the electoral list.

Central African Republic was mired in violence after Bozize fled to Cameroon in 2013 when Seleka fighters seized power in the majority-Christian nation, sparking reprisals by "anti-balaka" Christian militias loyal to Bozize. He was accused of stoking the attacks.

The government that succeeded him issued an international arrest warrant against him in 2013 for crimes against humanity and incitement to genocide during his 10 years in power. He also faces U.N. travel and banking sanctions.

"We deplore the deleterious climate in which the constitutional court has worked," said Kwa Na Kwa party spokesman Christian Guenebem. "This decision is the result of internal and external pressure."

In the streets of Bangui, dozens of pro-Bozize protesters gathered around key intersections to erect barricades. Some threw rocks and fired guns in the air.

The embassy of former colonial power France told its citizens to avoid unnecessary outings.

Of 42 submissions validated by the constitutional court, 30 candidates were approved to stand, most as independents.

"[This saga] shouldn't end with him [Bozize] being excluded from the list," said Human Rights Watch researcher Lewis Mudge. "It should end with an investigation done for crimes he may have committed ... and groups he may have supported."

CAR: Gunfire erupts in after election candidates announced

Gunfire has erupted in the Central African Republic's capital Bangui, where protesters erected barricades after an announcement that ex-president Francois Bozize was barred from running for election.

A French embassy text message sent to citizens said there were "barricades and gunfire" in at least eight districts in the city and advised French citizens "to avoid these areas" on Tuesday.

The unrest followed the Constitutional Court's rejection of the exiled Bozize's bid to run for president in the December 27 elections.

The presidential and parliamentary polls have been expected to signal CAR's return to normalcy after two years of sectarian violence between Christian and Muslim fighters that began after Bozize's March 2013 ouster by a mainly Muslim rebel alliance.

A total of 30 candidates were cleared to run in the first round of the presidential vote by the transitional regime's Constitutional Court, which rejected 15 applications, including Bozize's.

Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona, a leader of the mainly Christian militia - known as the "anti-Balaka" -  was also barred from running for the country's top political post.

Almost two million people have registered to vote for a new head of state and 141 parliamentarians.

Failing an outright win, a second round is scheduled for January 16. The city centre remained calm late on Tuesday with the unrest mainly in outlying areas.

A helicopter flew over Bangui and throughout the day people could be seen hurrying to get home before dark. "No one knows what can happen with these youngsters," said a woman who gave her name only as Yolande.

Elections postponed

The elections have been postponed several times already and organising the ballot remains highly problematic as parts of the country remain under the control of Muslim rebels opposed to the vote.

David Zounmenou, a senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies, told Al Jazeera last week that authorities are neither prepared to provide security nor able to guarantee all eligible voters would be represented on the voters' roll.

"There is no way disarmament of the militia groups would be complete by December 27, and by all indications, I think elections will take place in March 2016," said Zounmenou, of the institute's African Security Analysis Programme.

Sunday will see voters take part in a test run, when they go to the polls to approve a new constitution.

Bozize, 69, who is now living in exile in an unknown African location, is the target of UN sanctions for supporting the Christian militias who have attacked members of the Muslim minority in tit-for-tat fighting that has devastated one of Africa's poorest and most unstable nations.

Around one in 10 people remain displaced in the country where more than 12,000 UN troops have been deployed to keep the peace, along with a smaller French force.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Benin: Incumbent PM to run for president in 2016 polls

(Reuters) - Benin's Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou said on Tuesday he would run for president on behalf of the ruling party in an election next year, burying fears that President Boni Yayi will defy constitutional term limits and seek a third term.

Moves by African leaders to extend their terms of office have triggered unrest in other African states like Burundi and Burkina Faso.

Zinsou said he would focus his presidency on supporting the poorest and most vulnerable, bringing more workers into the formal sector and establish banking systems for agriculture in the tiny cotton producer.

Boni Yayi's ruling party the Cowry Forces for an Emerging Benin's (FCBE) lost seats in an April parliamentary poll, weakening his ability to push through constitutional reforms opposition figures had claimed were part of an attempt to seek another mandate next year.

Following the April defeat, Boni Yayi named the Franco-Beninese economist and former investment banker Zinsou as prime minister of a new government in June in a bid to boost the West African nation's growth which has been hit by a slowdown in neighbor and main trading partner Nigeria. [ID:nL5N11M1XF]

"When you have submitted your candidacy to your party, and when your party has been kind enough to decide that you are the preferred choice, you have to (run)," Zinsou said on the sidelines of an investment summit in London.

If he were to win February's election, one of his priorities would be to establish banking services for the agricultural sector, he said, adding that agriculture accounted for 23 percent of Benin's gross domestic product, but only for 2 percent on the banks' balance sheets.

"We do not finance agriculture in Africa – the families have to self-finance, and as a consequence we miss part of our potential," he said, adding many farmers were caught in a poverty trap having only access to high-interest loans.

"Then we cry and shout because we don’t create jobs in the formal areas, but we don’t finance I think financing agriculture, building agricultural banks, building agricultural credit, preferably mutuals (is key)."

Another priority was to bring people from the informal sector into the formal sector, which would ensure some degree of training, protection and insurance for workers as well as tax receipts for the government.

Zinsou, who served as an adviser to Boni Yayi, was a managing partner at French bank Rothschild & Cie before leaving to join Paris-based private equity firm PAI Partners in 2008.

(Reporting by Karin Strohecker; Editing by Toby Chopra)


Ghana: Former ECOWAS chair congratulates president-elect of Burkina Faso

His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana has congratulated Roch Marc Kabore for being declared winner of the presidential elections in Burkina Faso.

President Mahama expressed confidence that, "Mr Kabore's victory will open a new chapter in the constitutional history of Burkina Faso and lead the country into a golden era of democracy, good governance and prosperity."

He also commended all stakeholders in the crucial elections in Burkina Faso and urged them to continue to work together to ensure an incident free transfer of power from the transitional government to Mr Roch Marc Kabore.

"Ghana will continue to offer the necessary support to her sister country- Burkina Faso." President Mahama added.


Ghana: Group warns of potential election violence in 2016

The Ashanti Regional Peace Council is warning of a potential outbreak of violent conflict in the region ahead of the 2016 elections.

The Council says uninformed and politically explosive commentary in the media is fuelling political tension.

President of the Regional Peace Council, Prof. Seth Opuni Asiama says the council will soon meet all media houses in the region to explore ways of dealing with the problem.

He spoke to Luv News at a consultative training programme for members of the regional peace council on conflict resolution.

According to him, “We all know that the NPP has a strong hold in Ashanti but the NDC also has a strong presence so when you listen to some of the things that people say on radio, you should be careful."

“If it is an NDC man talking, he is inflaming he passions of the NPP people and vice versa and it is not good for our region”, Prof Asiama added.

This situation, according to him, is very dangerous and must be addressed before 2016.

He was hopeful that the support of the media will help the Council resolve some of these issues.
“As a Peace Council, we believe that the first step to take this year is to engage the media in the Ashanti Region”, he said.

He also noted that it was essential for political parties and civil society organisations to educate themselves on the repercussions of failing to address these issues before 2016.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Burkina Faso: President-elect vows to tackle "fundamental needs"

[Reuters] Burkina Faso's president-elect, Roch Marc Kabore, promised on Tuesday to tackle "fundamental needs" such as sanitation and to revive an economy that has flagged since a popular uprising toppled his veteran predecessor 13 months ago.

Kabore served as prime minister and head of the National Assembly under Blaise Compaore, who was overthrown last year after trying to change the constitution to extend his 27 years in power.

Kabore's election on Sunday was a pivotal moment for the West African nation, whose leaders for most of its history since independence from France in 1960 came to power in coups.

"We need to organize ourselves to take in hand the whole country's preoccupations because our first objective is not simply to revive the economy but at the same time to satisfy the fundamental needs of the whole population," Kabore told Reuters after being declared the winner overnight.

"The challenges are numerous and multiple in Burkina Faso. They include education, healthcare, access to clean water and the economy," he added in an interview.

Landlocked Burkina Faso produces cotton and gold but remains impoverished. Its economy has slowed due to lower global commodity prices and reduced investment during the democratic transition that began after Compaore fell.

The finance minister has said the economy will expand by 4 to 4.5 percent this year, compared to what the World Bank says was 6 percent growth in 2014.


Kabore split with Compaore early last year and formed the opposition Movement of People for Progress (MPP), which was made up of disaffected former allies of the president.

The fairest election in the country's history should lead to stability, but Kabore will face opposition from supporters of Compaore who consider him a traitor, said Sean Smith, West Africa analyst at management consultancy firm Verisk Maplecroft.

In his manifesto, Kabore said he would end the pillage of resources but he is unlikely to revise mining regulations in the next few years since the transitional government ratified a new mining code this year, Smith said.

Provisional results showed he won 53.5 percent of the vote to defeat former Finance Minister Zephirin Diabre, who scored 29.7 percent, and 12 other candidates. Turnout was about 60 percent.

Candidates and parties have seven days to contest the provisional figures and the constitutional court then has 15 days in which to publish definitive results. No one has yet challenged the results and Diabre has congratulated Kabore.

Crowds celebrated the result in the streets of the capital, Ouagadougou, honking car and motorbike horns.

The vote could serve as an example of democratic transition to other countries in Africa, where veteran rulers in Burundi and Congo Republic have found ways to extend their terms in office this year.

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. Kafando will step down once the new leader is sworn in.

(Additional reporting by Nadoun Coulibaly; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Burkina Faso: Ex-PM Kabore wins presidential vote

[Reuters] Roch Marc Kabore was proclaimed the winner of the presidential election in Burkina Faso and will become the country's first new leader in decades, the Independent National Electoral Commission said on Tuesday.

The election of the former prime minister represents a pivotal moment for the West African nation, which has been ruled by leaders who came to power in coups for most of its history since independence from France in 1960.

Kabore served as prime minister and head of the National Assembly under President Blaise Compaore, who was toppled by an uprising in October 2014 after 27 years in power. Kabore split with Compaore early last year and formed an opposition party.

"My first thought is to recognize the honor of this high office and to feel the weight of its great responsibility," Kabore said in a speech to thousands of his supporters after being declared winner.

Provisional results from Sunday's election showed Kabore won 53.5 percent of the vote to defeat former Finance Minister Zephirin Diabre, who scored 29.7 percent, and 12 other candidates, the electoral commission said. Turnout was about 60 percent. The outright majority means there will be no run-off.

"This election went off in calm and serenity, which shows the maturity of the people of Burkina Faso," Barthelemy Kere, president of the electoral commission, told a news conference.

Crowds celebrated the news in the streets of the capital, Ouagadougou, honking car and motorbike horns.

Compaore seized power by force and won four elections, all of which were disputed. He was toppled by protests when he tried to change the constitution to extend his rule even further.

The vote could serve as an example of democratic transition to other countries in Africa, where veteran rulers in Burundi and Congo Republic changed the constitution this year to pave the way for a fresh term in office.

Kabore heads the Movement of People for Progress (MPP), made up of disaffected former allies of Compaore.

Many people say their priority is for the new president to promote economic growth in the landlocked country, which produces gold and cotton but remains impoverished. Corruption and justice are also important issues.

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 revenue, trimming growth by 0.3 percentage point. The guard has since been disbanded.

Kafando will step down once the results are confirmed by the constitutional court and the new leader is sworn in. A parallel election for the National Assembly also took place on Sunday.

(Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Peter Cooney)