Thursday, March 31, 2016

Djibouti: Opposition parties threaten presidential polls boycott

[Africanews with AFP] In Djibouti, the Coalition of National Union of opposition is divided as three major parties have decided to boycot the upcoming elections.

“It sounds like our party has decided not to participate in the presidential election scheduled for April 8, 2016 because it considers that the elections will not be transparent. It is also fairly easy to understand that election framework that we agreed as opposition and government have not yet been met,” said Daher Ahmed Farah, an opposition candidate.

Djibouti’s president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, has been in power for 17 years and is almost guaranteed re-election in the April polls.

The opposition in the north African nation are divided but say that they have embarked on formulating a major strategy for the coming elections in order to defeat the current government.

Another divide of the Coalition of National Union of opposition has agreed to participate in the ballot. Though they have not yet agreed on a single candidate, already two candidates, Mohamed Daoud Chehem and Omar Elmi Khaireh have filed their application to contest

CAR: New president pledges to ‘preserve peace’

[Dibie Ike Michael] Central African Republic’s (CAR) new president, Faustin-Archange Touadera, has pledged to “preserve the peace” as he took the oath of office on Wednesday.

The swearing-in ushers in the country’s first elected leader since Muslim rebels overthrew Francois Bozize’s government more than three years ago.

“I pledge to wholly respect the constitution … and preserve the peace,” he said, promising to “carry out my duties without any ethnic bias.”

I pledge to wholly respect the constitution … and preserve the peace.
Touadera, 58, a former mathematics teacher, was the surprise winner of February’s runoff polls, the first to be held since Muslim and Christian rebels engaged in inter-communal violence which killed thousands of people since 2013.

The inauguration of the new president comes as the CAR’s former colonial ruler, France, said its troops would leave the country by the end of the year.

The French forces helped stabilize the country when the sectarian violence erupted until a UN peacekeeping force was in place.

Touadera was sworn-in at a ceremony at the main stadium in the country’s capital, Bangui and was attended by Equatorial Guinea’s president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema and the Republic of Congo’s re-elected leader, Denis Sassou Nguesso.

The ceremony marks the last stage of the country’s political transition which began after the toppling of former president, Francois Bozize in 2013 by the predominantly Muslim seleka rebel alliance.

The Central African Republic has experienced relative peace since the landmark visit of Pope Francis last November.

Muslims in the country have fled to the northern parts of the country with some crossing the borders into Chad and Cameroon.

Many fear that the rebels in the north may try to secede but Touadera has assured that the country would stay together no matter what.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Niger: Jailed opposition leader granted bail

[Joshua Fatzick] Hama Amadou, Niger’s opposition leader, was granted bail Tuesday, five months after being detained on baby-trafficking charges he said were politically motivated.

Last week, Amadou lost a runoff election to President Mahamadou Issoufou, who won his second term with 92 percent of the vote. The opposition party boycotted the election, which led to the lopsided victory.

A spokesman for the opposition party said the charges were concocted and Amadou was arrested in order to sideline him for the election.

"The court should have freed him so that he could be on equal footing with Issoufou during the elections. It didn't. Hama is innocent and this case is a plot to push him out of political life," spokesman Ousseini Salatou said.

Amadou was held in a prison and was unable to campaign during the election. He was in poor health during the campaign and was flown to France for medical treatment four days before the March 20 vote, and he remained there Tuesday.

Several high-ranking members of the opposition party were arrested starting in June 2014, after police began investigating the alleged trafficking of newborn babies from Nigeria to wealthy families in Niger. Among those charged was Amadou’s wife, but she was later granted a provisional release.

Amadou fled the country after the arrests of his friends and colleagues began, but he returned in November and he, too, was arrested.

Originally, the court was scheduled to rule in Amadou’s case on March 14, a week before the election, but delayed the decision until March 28, a week after the election.

Issoufou is set to be sworn in for his second five-year term Saturday.

VOA news

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

CAR: President investiture slated for Wednesday

[Selinah Ntobong with APA/BBC/HWR] The President-elect of the Central African Republic(CAR), Faustin Archange Touadera will be officially sworn-in as head of state on Wednesday, March 30.

This is after the Transitional Constitutional Court in the country confirmed the provisional results of the second round of the 14 February presidential election.

Touadera scooped 62 percent of the votes against his main rival Anicet Dologuele.

Touadera’s campaign focused on restoring security. He vowed to encourage reconciliation and disarmament in a country that has been through a period of violent sectarian unrest since 2013.

Lewis Mudge, a researcher at International rights organization- Human Rights Watch (HRW) said President Touadera’s new government needs to break the cycles of impunity that drive the violence and make protecting civilians a priority.

Mudge said the outgoing transitional government cooperated with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and adopted a law to create a Special Criminal Court with national and international judges to try cases of serious human rights crimes and to hold those responsible to account.

A strong endorsement and action plan to support and advance the work of both the ICC and the Special Criminal Court, Mudge said, will demonstrate that President Touadera is also committed to ending this violence and to justice for the victims.

Mozambique: Opposition condemns police raid on party headquarters and leader’s home

The Head of security for Mozambique’s opposition Renamo party, Ossufo Momade, has condemned recent police operations on the party’s headquarters and the homes of its leader saying they amount to trespassing.

“We were surprised by the invasion of the Frelimo military to the two residences of the president in Maputo (one in Julius Nyerere and another in Sommerschield 2) and the national headquarters of the party. This invasion resulted in the arrest of two guards and the seizure of 20 AK47s,” Momade said.

“At the official residence of the President and his other house, they took 85,500 meticais. At the national headquarters, they broke into the offices and took a Dell laptop, 2,100 meticais from petty cash,” he added.

We were surprised by the invasion by the Frelimo military of the two residences of the president in Maputo, one in Julius Nyerere and another in Sommerschield
According to Zitamar News, Mozambique’s police had on March 27, raided the Maputo headquarters of the opposition party, as well as two houses belonging to Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, and confiscated weapons four days before Dhlakama’s self-imposed deadline to seize power in roughly half of the country.

Dhlakama’s wife and children were reportedly at their Julius Nyerere home at the time of the operation.

Ammunition and military uniforms, some of them belonging to the Armed and Defence Forces of Mozambique (FADM) were also seized, along with an unspecified amount of precious and semi-precious stones.

Maputo police chief, Beradino Rafael said the raids were connected to armed criminal activity in the capital. He said they confiscated 40 automatic Kalashnikov AKM rifles, of which 12 were in working condition and seven operational pistols.

The opposition party said its right to retain arms was enshrined in the 1992 Rome peace accords, for the protection of the party, its headquarters and its president.

The police has however dismissed the party’s claim that 2 of its guards were arrested.

The police said four Renamo guards were summoned to the station to explain why they had the weapons.


Benin: New leader to cut presidential terms

Newly-elected Benin president Patrice Talon plans to reduce presidential mandates to just one five-year term, he said late on Friday, after the constitutional court confirmed his election victory over Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou.

Talon took 65.4 percent of the vote in last Sunday's run-off poll to decide who would replace President Thomas Boni Yayi, who is stepping down after serving two terms in office, the constitutional court said on Friday. The figures confirmed results that came out earlier in the week.

"I will first and foremost tackle constitutional reform," Talon told reporters, reinforcing a promise made during campaigning. One term of five years would reduce presidential "complacency", he said.

Benin presidents can currently serve two five-year terms.

The peaceful election was seen as reinforcing the democratic credentials of Benin, a bastion of stability in a region where elections are often marred by violence.

By relinquishing power after serving two terms in office, Boni Yayi stands in contrast to leaders in other African nations, including Burundi, Rwanda and Congo Republic, who have altered their constitutions to extend their rule.

Talon said his government will be made up of 16 members, down from the 28 members of the outgoing government.

Source: Reuters

Niger: Opposition engages gov’t over possible post-election crisis

Following a meeting with Prime Minister Brigi Rafini, members of the opposition in Niger are willing to engage in discussions with the government to avert the occurrence of a post-election crisis.

“We reiterated the availability of the opposition to go to a comprehensive dialogue, sincere and inclusive dialogue that supports all the questions we have raised,” those are the words of Malam Mahamane Sani, Secretary General of MODEN, the main opposition party led by Hama Amadou.

Mahamane Sani Malam was speaking on behalf of the opposition coalition group (COPA 2016), after a meeting with Prime Minister Brigi Rafini.

He also added that he is not about to set some technical issues, but to bring lasting solutions to the extremely difficult situation.

Following his re-election which the opposition disputes, President Mahamadou Issoufou has called for a national unity government. COPA 2016 did not specify what his position was in relation to this offer.

COPA had a few days ago called on citizens to resist all the conditions of violence and chaos after calling for boycott of the second round polls which Issoufou won by a landslide.

According to COPA, they wanted a period of transition for keeping that would lead to the conduct of fresh, transparent and credible elections.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Congo: President wins election, opposition disputes

[Ismail Akwei with AFP] Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso has been declared winner in the first round of the country’s election with 60.39% of votes, according to official results announced early Thursday morning.

The victory of Mr. Sassou Nguesso, which is being challenged by two main candidates, was officially announced by the Interior Minister Raymond Mboulou Zéphyrin shortly after 3:30 am (02h30 GMT), when the country was deprived of telecommunications connection for over four days.

According to the official count, Guy-Brice Parfait Kolélas ranked second with a little over 15.05% of the vote, and General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko third with about 13.89%.

Speaking to the press at his campaign headquarters shortly after the announcement of results, Sassou said that the Congolese people had “taken their destiny in their hands” and held that the election campaign had resulted in a “very open democratic debate.”

On Wednesday, Mr Kolélas and General Mokoko had contested the partial results published yesterday by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CNEI), which gave Mr Sassou Nguesso in the lead with 67% of votes.

“I knew beforehand that the dice were loaded, but we had agreed to play the game,” said General Mokoko, who was until February adviser to President Sassou Nguesso on peace and security, lamenting that the results published by the CNEI was “prefabricated”.

Vivien Manangou, spokesman for Mr. Kolélas, said for his part the re-election of Mr. Sassou Nguesso was part of a “massive fraud” and “magic”.

The declaration means that the incumbent President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has been in power for 32 years, is going to head the country for five more years.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Congo: President Sassou leading with 67 % in partial vote count

[Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban with AFP] The Independent National Electoral Commission (ISEC) of Congo has announced that incumbent President Denis Sassou-Nguesso has taken a 67% lead in votes counted so far from the March 20 polls.

Addressing the media in the capital Brazzaville, Chairman of ISEC, Henry Bouka disclosed that the 67% result was based on votes counted in 72 out of the 111 districts counted.

The results, he was quick to add, did not include that of Pointe Noire, commercial capital and opposition stronghold.

October referendum on constitutional reforms

With his imminent victory, Sassou-Nguesso completes a constitutional process that started back in October last year, the referendum to remove limits on presidential ternure led to the death of 18 protesters even though the President won it by a landslide 80%.

With that out od the way, the man who has ruled Congo for about three decades was ‘admitted’ to run in the March 20 polls which he was widely expected to win.

The opposition criticized the referendum as did the former colonial power, France saying that the process did not allow an accurate assessment of the results. The European Union also refused to send observers to Congo for the March 20 polls.

Communication Blackout

In the lead up to the vote, the government announced that it had ordered major communication service providers to suspend all phone and internet services in the interest of ‘‘security and public tranquility’‘

As at when the results were being announced, the second day after the elections, the communication blackout was still in force as Congolese were unable to make phone calls or to browse the internet.

Again, the communication blackout was also seen as a means of blocking the opposition’s decision to set up a parallel electoral commission to collate its own results from the polls in a bid to avert what it said was widespread rigging by the incumbent.

Day of Election

The entire country was in an almost lockdown mood for the entire election day (March 20) provinces in the country were largely quite as people went to cast their ballots. The roads were deserted and almost all businesses did not open.

The government also banned the use of motor vehicles nationwide during the vote, and police checkpoints were erected across the capital Brazzaville to verify that those circulating had obtained special permission.

Nguesso had promised the his supporters first round victory, which the opposition disputed.

The UN has appealed for calm, and urged “political parties, candidates and their supporters to resolve the disputes that may arise through dialogue and established legal procedures.”

Chad: 3 civil society leaders arrested for inciting protests against president

Three leaders of the Chadian civil society have been arrested and detained by police in N’Djamena, after calling for protests against President Idriss Deby Itno, police sources disclosed.

The spokesman of the coalition “Ça suffit” which literally means “Enough,” Mahamat Nour Ahmed Ibedou, was arrested on Monday “for distributing leaflets calling for a peaceful walk” the next day, a police source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The activist, under police detention, has been dragged before the public prosecutor who has opened investigations, the source said.

On Tuesday, two other figures from the civil society, the Secretary General of the Union of Trade Unions of Chad (UST), Yunus Mahadjir and the spokesman of the movement “Iyina”, which means “we’re tired” in local Arabic, Kaina Nadjo Palmer, were in turn arrested by the police and under detention, a police officer in the city said.

Civil society organizations have recently urged people to march peacefully in all cities of the country to protest against the candidacy of incumbent President Idriss Deby Itno in the presidential elections of April 10.

The protests go against the ban on Saturday by the Minister of Public Safety and Immigration, Ahmat Mahamat Bachir, of “any public demonstration outside the scope of the campaign. Only events of the presidential candidates are now allowed,” he said.

Following the ban, no demonstration was reported on Tuesday at midday in N’Djamena or province.

Amnesty International has however denounced the arrest of the spokespersons of “Ça suffit” and “Iyina” in a statement.

“Within three weeks of the presidential election, the arrest and detention of two activists sends a worrying signal about the restrictions of human rights,” said Samira Daoud, Deputy Director of Amnesty for West and Central Africa.

The charges against them are “disturbing public order and creating resistance to the action of the authorities as they were arrested for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of expression, association and assembly,” said Amnesty, which calls for their “immediate and unconditional release.”

Idris Deby came to power in 1990 and is standing as candidate for a fifth term facing 13 other candidates.

Zambian: Opposition leader arrested for ‘defaming’ President Lungu

Zambian police on Monday arrested a leader of the opposition for saying President Edgar Lungu used public funds in a trip to a holiday resort last year, a spokeswoman said.

Charity Munganga-Chanda said Erick Chanda, leader of the Fourth Revolution Party, was charged with defamation.

Erick Chanda is a regular critic of President Lungu’s government.


Senegal: ‘Yes’ lead in Senegal referendum vote – Minister

The “Yes” lead with almost 63% of the votes in Sunday’s constitutional referendum in Senegal, the country’s Interior Minister said on Tuesday.

“It is clear from (figures) county committees (for counting of votes), pending the official announcement, the current yes would win the election with 62.9% against 37.1% for No,” said Minister Abdoulaye Daouda Diallo at a news conference.

Based on the results from the 45 departmental committees of the votes, the local media had reported that the “Yes” won Sunday’s election with 62.54% of votes announced.

Several officials of the “No” camp congratulated those of “Yes” for their victory in statements to the press.

The constitutional amendment which was proposed by President Macky Sall has five points, which includes reducing the presidential term in office from the current seven to five years.

It also strengthens the rights of citizens and the opposition, while enforcing the powers of the legislature and judiciary.

Macky Sall had promised the reduction during his campaign.

Voter turnout was put at 40.42%.

The official results will be announced by the National Commission on Census (CNRV) and the Constitutional Council.


Niger: Incumbent Issoufou wins big in boycotted runoff

[Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban with Reuters] Niger’s incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou has been declared winner of the March 20 presidential runoff having garnered 92.5% of the total votes cast. A victory that allows him to serve his second term in office as President.

The electoral commission announced Issoufou’s victory at an event largely attended by members of the ruling party.

The opposition’s candidate Hama Amadou got 7.5% according to the results. This was not surprising against the background that the opposition had announced a boycott of the runoff.

The opposition said they would not accept the results of the polls after complaining of unfair treatement metted out to the candidate, Hama Amadou.

The former Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament contested the first round of the elections from jail where he was being held on charges of baby trafficking. He insists the charges are trumped-up but the government justifies the charges.

Due to his ill health status, Amadou was flown to France to receive medical treatment just days to the poll run off.

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world despite large deposits of Uranium that it sists on. It also faces its fair share of the Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad region.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Congo: Protest and tear gas hit post-vote

Police fired tear gas at opposition supporters in Congo Republic on Sunday after voting ended in a poll expected to see long-time leader Denis Sassou Nguesso extend his three-decade rule.

The government ordered mobile phone and internet services cut for the day across the oil-producing Central African country “for reasons of security and public tranquility”, a government official said. It also banned motor vehicle use nationwide.

Despite protests in which at least 18 demonstrators died, Sassou Nguesso pushed through constitutional changes in October to remove term and age limits that would have prevented him from standing again. He is now heavily favoured to win the polls.

He faces eight opponents, including retired General Jean-Marie Mokoko, seen as the strongest challenger.

“I want this to go well. I don’t want war, which is often what happens after these elections,” said Damien Kiongazi, who returned home to the capital Brazzaville from Paris to vote.

However, soon after polling stations closed, security forces moved in on crowds that had gathered in the capital’s Bacongo neighbourhood, an opposition stronghold.

Witnesses who said they had been following the vote counting were then teargassed by riot police. A heavy odour of the gas still hung in the air when a Reuters reporter arrived in the neighbourhood.

Sassou Nguesso, who ruled from 1979 until he lost an election in 1992, regained power in 1997 after a brief civil war and then went on to win disputed polls in 2002 and 2009.

His supporters credit him with restoring stability and developing the country’s infrastructure.

“I think the vote marks progress for our democracy. And I can say that the new republic is setting out under a good omen,” Sassou Nguesso said after voting in Brazzaville.

The president’s critics claim Congo’s oil wealth has enriched and entrenched a small elite, while around half of the population of 4.5 million lives in poverty.

Fraud allegations

The polls will be watched closely by other leaders in Africa – notably in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo – because several long-serving presidents are seeking to stay on beyond constitutionally mandated term limits.

The opposition said on Friday it had documented preparations for widespread vote rigging, including voters registered at multiple polling sites, individuals with multiple voter cards and the distribution of voter cards to non-citizens.

The government rejected accusations it was preparing to cheat, claiming its opponents were laying the groundwork for post-election chaos.

Dileita Mohamed Dileita, a former Djibouti prime minister heading the African Union’s elections observer mission, said around noon that he believed the polls were “going very well”.

However, at a polling station in Mafouta in southern Brazzaville, some of those waiting to cast their ballots on Sunday morning complained that the posted voter list contained the names of a number of people who had died years before.

At the same location, a Reuters reporter saw three names repeated twice, listing the same birthdays and parents.

“I’m not confident. I see already that our voices are being stolen. The real results will not be given,” said Boclelon Ganga, 28, as he smoked a cigarette while waiting to vote.

Candidate Brice Parfait Kolelas said the opposition would use satellite phones to circumvent the communications blackout in order to monitor the results.

“We are making a compilation,” he said. “I don’t encourage taking to the streets, but people need to protect their vote.”

Former colonial power France criticised the conditions of October’s constitutional referendum, saying they did not allow an accurate assessment of the result. The European Union has decided not to send a mission to observe Sunday’s vote.


Cape Verde: Opposition wins power after 15 years

Cape Verde’s main opposition party claimed an absolute majority in the country’s parliamentary elections.

The Movement for Democracy, led by former mayor of Praia Ulisses Correia e Silva claimed more than 53% of votes ahead of the socialist African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde which had ruled since 2001.

Janira Hopffer Almada, leader of the outgoing government acknowledged his defeat last night.

Out of 72 seats, the Movement for Democracy claimed at least 36 with the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde on 25, according to results with 90% of votes counted.

The Democratic and Independent Cape Verdean Union took three seats.

The results show a “clear desire for change”, Correia e Silva told a press conference.

He promised to work hard to tackle poverty and unemployment and declared the election as a “celebration of democracy” with no losers.


Benin: PM concedes defeat and congratulates president-elect Talon

Benin’s outgoing prime minister Lionel Zinsou has acknowledged defeat in the country’s presidential election, recognising an clear victory for his rival, businessman Patrice Talon.

Although official results have not been published, provisional counts show “a very clear victory for Patrice Talon” Zinsou told AFP.

Full results are expected to be announced on Monday but daily paper La Nouvelle Tribune published poll estimations giving 65% of votes to Talon, compared with 35.2% for Zinsou.

The prime minister said he had called Talon to congratulate him and wish him well.

Patrice Talon, a 57-year-old entrepreneur known as the “King of Cotton” used his success to win voters seeking a a new start for the country after two terms under president Thomas Boni Yayi. Both Yayi and the main opposition party had backed Zinsou.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

AU calls for peaceful, transparent polls in six member states

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, has called for smooth, peaceful, transparent and credible polls in six AU member states holding elections and a referendum on Sunday.
"While Elections Management Bodies should ensure smooth organisation, with highest levels of professionalism and service delivery, citizens and political actors must respect the results of the polls," the chairperson said in a statement earlier Sunday.
"Should there be grievances following the election results, these must be addressed through the appropriate channels in an orderly and lawful manner to maintain peace and stability," she said, adding that only through violence-free elections that Africa can deepen the culture of democracy.
On Sunday, there will be elections in five countries and regions -- Benin, Niger, Cape Verde, Congo and the semi-autonomous region of Tanzania's Zanzibar, and a referendum in Senegal, according to the statement.
The constitutional referendum in Senegal will allow the citizens to determine whether to maintain the current seven-year presidential term mandate or reduce it to five years, it noted.
The Republic of Congo will hold first round of presidential elections, with nine candidates, including incumbent President Denis Sassou Nguesso. And the Republic of Cape Verde will be holding Legislative Elections to fill up 72 seats in the National Assembly.
Both Benin and Niger in West Africa will be holding second rounds of presidential elections, of which the results will determine who will lead these countries for at least the next five years.
Meanwhile, voters in Zanzibar are going back to the polls after the results of presidential and parliamentary held on 25 Oct. 2015 were nullified by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission over vote rigging allegations. 

Source: Xinhua

Référendum au Sénégal : oui ou non au président Macky Sall

Les Sénégalais sont appelés dimanche à un référendum sur des réformes constitutionnelles, dont la réduction du mandat du chef de l'État de sept à cinq ans, une consultation qui a pris des allures de vote pour ou contre le président Macky Sall.
La campagne d’une semaine a été émaillée d’accusations de corruption, de trafic d’influence et de désinformation, et même de violences qui ont fait des blessés, dans un pays réputé pour sa stabilité et présenté comme une démocratie modèle en Afrique.
Le débat s’est cristallisé sur le retrait par M. Sall, sur avis du Conseil constitutionnel, de la disposition portant sur l’application du quinquennat au mandat en cours, signifiant qu’il irait donc jusqu’au bout de son septennat en 2019.
Élu face à Abdoulaye Wade (2000-2012), qui briguait un troisième mandat, en contournant la Constitution, selon ses détracteurs, Macky Sall avait promis durant la campagne le retour du quinquennat, avec effet immédiat.
Y’en a marre appelle à voter « Non »
Plusieurs collectifs, de l’opposition et de la société civile, dont « Y’en a marre », un mouvement en pointe dans le combat contre un troisième mandat du président Wade, appellent à voter « Non », lui reprochant d’avoir manqué à sa parole et dénonçant son empressement à convoquer le référendum.
« La violence est un prétexte pour ceux qui veulent semer le désordre. La confrontation se fera par les urnes », a assuré le président Sall vendredi avant un dernier meeting à Dakar.
Il a sillonné plusieurs régions, rendant notamment visite aux chefs des confréries religieuses islamiques, très influentes dans ce pays majoritairement musulman.
L’ex-Premier ministre et opposant Idrissa Seck a appelé à « préserver la stabilité » mais mis en garde lors d’un meeting à Thiès (ouest) contre d’éventuelles fraudes: « Nous ne laissons personne violer la volonté populaire ».
Un concert, de rappeurs notamment, devait clôturer vendredi la campagne du front du « Non », qui s’est élargi à des responsables de la majorité, dont des députés et des maires, notamment celui de Dakar, Khalifa Sall.
Présidentielle à l’horizon 
La controverse sur la durée du mandat a occulté les autres dispositions de la révision en quinze points, qui porte également sur le renforcement des droits des citoyens et de l’opposition, ainsi que des pouvoirs législatif et judiciaire.
Des citoyens interrogés par les médias ont indiqué voter pour sanctionner positivement ou négativement le bilan du chef de l’Etat.
« Vrai-faux du référendum »
« On ne m’attaque pas sur mon bilan économique », a déclaré M. Sall à Saint-Louis (nord-ouest), accusant le camp adverse de se livrer à « de la confusion, de la désinformation et de l’intoxication ».
La présidence a d’ailleurs publié sur son site internet un « vrai-faux du référendum » pour réfuter les rumeurs ou les affirmations de certains militants du « Non ».
Il y est ainsi précisé que la révision constitutionnelle « ne permettra pas au président Macky Sall de faire un éventuel troisième mandat à partir de 2024 » en jouant sur le passage du septennat au quinquennat, et qu’il n’a pas pour objet d’encourager l’homosexualité, d’ailleurs illégale au Sénégal.
Le camp du « Oui » a également été accusé d' »achat de conscience » en distribuant de l’argent et du riz pendant la campagne, selon ses détracteurs. Des soupçons alimentés par les déclarations d’un responsable du parti présidentiel, le député Moustapha Cissé Lô, selon lequel « l’argent va couler à flot ».
La distribution du « riz et de l’argent (est) aussi une forme de violence. C’est même un viol de la conscience des citoyens », a déclaré Khalifa Sall.
Le chef de l’Etat « a transformé une promesse électorale en enjeu plébiscitaire », en organisant une « présidentielle à candidature unique » lors de laquelle il faut répondre « oui ou non à Macky », commentait l’hebdomadaire privé « Nouvel Horizon ».
A travers ce référendum, il « cherche à se rassurer » en prévision des législatives prévues en 2017 et avant la présidentielle de 2019, selon des analystes.
Plus de 5 millions d’électeurs sont appelés aux urnes dimanche de 08H00 à 18H00 (GMT et locales). Mais près de 200.000 personnes seront privées de vote en raison de problèmes techniques qui ont empêché la production de leurs cartes d’électeur, selon le ministère de l’Intérieur.
Les premiers résultats officiels sont attendus lundi.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Congo: AU observer mission arrives for presidential polls

The African Union Commission (AUC) announces the arrival of an electoral observation mission for the first round Presidential election of 20th March 2016 in the Republic of Congo. Following the official invitation of the Congolese Government, the African Union Commission Chairperson, H.E Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, deployed an African Union Election Observation Mission to monitor and report on the electoral process.

H.E Dileita Mohamed Dileita, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Djibouti, leads the African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM). The Mission comprises 30 observers including Permanent representatives to the African Union in Addis Ababa, members of the Pan-African Parliament, representatives of Elections Management Bodies and members of the civil society in Africa.

Observers are from 18 countries, reflecting the geographic diversity of the continent, namely Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Rwanda, SaoTomé y Principe, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.

The Mission's mandate is to observe this Presidential election in line with relevant African Union instruments, especially the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance adopted in 2007 and which entered into force in 2012, the AU/OAU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, the 2002 African Union Guidelines for Election Observation and Monitoring Missions, the African Peer Review Mechanism, as well as the legal framework in force for 2016 Presidential polls in the Republic of Congo.

The mission will be present in all constituencies of the Republic of Congo to ensure a fair, independent, objective and impartial observation of the electoral process and will mainly focus on the lawfulness, transparency and equity of the process. As part of its activities, the Mission will work closely with relevant stakeholders involved in the electoral process, including representatives of Government, security officials, the National Independent Electoral Commission, leaders of Political parties, media, representatives of civil society organizations and international community in Congo.

The AUEOM will work in collaboration with other observation missions deployed in the Republic of Congo.

The Mission will release a preliminary statement to present its first conclusions on the polling and formulate some recommendations to the stakeholders involved in the electoral process in Congo. This will be a press conference that will take place on the 22nd of March 2016 at 2.00 pm at Mikhael's Hôtel, Brazzaville, Congo.

The AUEOM arrived in Congo on the 15th March 2016 and will stay there until 24 March 2016. Its secretariat is based at Mikhael's Hôtel, Brazzaville, Congo.

The African Union Election Observation Mission expresses its gratitude to the authorities of the Republic of Congo for the invitation and for the arrangements made to facilitate its work.

Brazzaville, 16 March 2016

On behalf of the Mission,

H.E Mr. Dileita Mohamed Dileita

Head of Mission

Source: African Union Commission (AUC)

Congo: OIF confident of credible presidential election

[ with AFP] An envoy of the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF) has told AFP that the Republic of Congo’s presidential election on Sunday should “go well”.

At the end of an observation mission in Brazzaville on Thursday, the special envoy, Michel Kafando, assured the Secretary General of the OIF, Michaëlle Jean, that “the mission ended with optimism”.

The Burkinabe diplomat nevertheless considered that there was a risk of disturbances in case there is a “big difference” between published results and those compiled by the opposition in the first round.

If there is no excessive handling of results, I think that the opposition will continue the contest as it has promised, that is to say, by appealing to the appropriate bodies to resolve any dispute.
“We are confident that some things should be fine. If it happens that no one interprets the situation and it is handled well, there will be no problems,” Mr. Kafando, former president of the transition in Burkina Faso (2014-2015) told AFP in an interview.

Mr. Kafando said he was received by the candidate President Denis Sassou Nguesso who assured that the elections would be “open”. Representatives of the other candidates have meanwhile promised that any electoral disputes would be settled by legal means.

Eight people are vying to face Sassou Nguesso who has spent 32 years of power as the head of the country and is seeking a third term.

For the fear of fraud and mistrust of the new Independent National Electoral Commission (CNEI) which they see as too close to the government, five opposition candidates have created their own “Electoral Technical Commission” to ensure that published results are consistent with collated results.

“If there is no excessive handling of results, I think that the opposition will continue the contest as it has promised, that is to say, by appealing to the appropriate bodies to resolve any dispute,“Mr. Kafando said.

“But if by chance we experience tampering – because even the opposition [with a large number of candidates] is also expected to have a number of votes – if it’s too obvious, it’s [where fear will] overflow,” he added.

The nomination of Mr. Sassou Nguesso was made possible through a change of constitution in November. The opposition called the October referendum a “constitutional coup” that allowed the adoption of the new constitution, but decided to contest in the elections.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Niger: Citizens prepare for Sunday’s runoff amid political tensions

[Linnete Bahati with Reuters, agencies] Tension is high in Niger as the country prepares for the runoff presidential polls this weekend.

This follows the opposition coalition’s recent announcement that its candidate Hama Amadou will not participate in the polls.

Some residents who have been looking forward to a keen contest between Hama Amadou and incumbent president Mahamadou Issoufou have expressed their disappointment at the turn of events.

“I was disappointed to find out that (the opposition has withdrawn) because these politicians have participated in politics before and they know that in an election there is always a winner and a loser. It would be really disappointing if the opposition was not to participate in the elections,” said Boube Abdou Safiatou, a Niamey resident.

Amadou’s absence in this second round poll, some believe, would increase the chances of Mahamadou Issoufou.

Issoufou who is seeking a second term in office, garnered 48 percent of votes in the first round poll held on February 21.

“If they (opposition) follow through with the threat of not participating in the elections, then it will also mean that they will not recognise whoever wins the elections, especially the future president of Niger who will be elected on March 20, which is something that may lead us into a political impasse,” said Amadou Hassane Boubacar, a political analyst.

Hama Amadou who campaigned from behind bars managed to garner almost 18 percent of the votes in the February 21 poll thwarting the chances of President Issoufou’s first round victory.

Amadou has been in prison since November last year on child trafficking charges, a charge he denies. He was on Wednesday airlifted to France for further medical treatment after his condition reportedly degenerated.

The opposition leader is said to have been sick for sometime now although his medical team has not stated exactly what was wrong with him.

Niger: Opposition candidate flown to Paris ahead of runoff polls

[Linnete Bahati with Agencies] Niger’s presidential hopeful Hama Amadou has been flown to France for medical treatment ahead of Sunday’s runoff vote.

His doctor was recently detained on grounds of spreading false information that his patient had been hospitalised after losing consciousness twice and that his health was worsening.

According to the government, the opposition leader was suffering from general fatigue though it is still not clear what he is suffering from.

Amadou is due to face-off with incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou on March 20 as a result of February’s vote in which he got 18 percent of the votes.

Issoufou, who is seeking a second term in office won the first round of the polls with 48 percent of the ballots.

Amadou, who is the main opposition candidate, was detained since November last year and has been campaigning behind bars.

He is accused of baby-trafficking, a charge he has continuously denied and has described as politically motivated.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Niger: Opposition leader’s doctor arrested for misinformation

The doctor of detained Niger opposition leader Hama Hamadou has been arrested for allegedly spreading false information about his health.

Opposition leaders and sympathisers of Hama Hamadou have criticised the arrest of Dr Harouna Yacouba as an act of intimidation before the second round of the presidential election on Sunday.

The opposition say all efforts to ensure the release of Hama Hamadou for the presidential run-off campaign have been futile.

“Measures are being taken at the Filingué district hospital to totally isolate the patient by separating him from his personal doctor who has been arrested. Hama Hamadou is deprived of any assistance. His family is not allowed to visit him,” Ousseini Salatou, spokesman of the Coalition for Change(COPA) told reporters.

Government spokesman Marou Amadou said authorities are concerned about Hamadou’s health and are considering other options for treatment.

“The chronic illness of Hama Hamadou has been going on for three years. He should be evacuated to a specialised centre. The president has instructed that a medical aircraft should carry him to the treatment centre,” Marou Amadou said.

The bail request from Hama Hamadou’s lawyers will be examined on March 28. The opposition leader is prosecuted for his alleged role in a child trafficking ring.

Source: with AFP

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Chad: Party of missing opposition figure fields candidate for April elections

Eight years after the disappearance of Chad’s opposition leader Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh, his Party for Freedom and Development (LDP) is once again active in the country’s political landscape and has fielded a candidate for the April 2016 presidential elections.

60-year-old Ahmad Mahamat Alhabo is a former minister and ambassador.

Like other opposition figures, Alhabo has denounced a violation of the electoral rules and promised to bring charges against anyone who does so – an apparent reference to the country’s president Idriss Deby.

Fourteen candidates will compete in the April 10 presidential election.

The Constitutional Council has rejected the application of opposition candidate Ngarleyj Yorongar’s candidacy because of his party’s colours. Yorongar wants President Deby’s candidature rejected as well.

“If there are candidates to be discarded….It is strictly forbidden to choose a logo with a combination of three national colors blue-red-gold. But the emblem of the patriotic Movement of Salvation (MPS) has blue-gold-red which means that the application of Déby is null and void. He cannot be a candidate in the presidential election,” said Yorongar.

Idriss Deby, who has been in power for 26 years, is seeking a fifth term.


Niger: Jailed opposition leader hospitalized again ahead of run-off

Niger’s opposition presidential candidate Hama Amadou has for the second time in less than a week been hospitalized, according to the AFP.

The 66-year-old former Prime Minister “fainted and was taken for first aid at the Filingué district hospital,” said his personal physician Harouna Yacouba.

Dr. Yacouba said the jailed opposition leader needs “proper care” explaining that the Filingué center lacked adequate equipment.

Amadou, who is being held for alleged child trafficking is said to be unwell although it is not clear what condition he is suffering.

He was released briefly last Friday night for medical attention and was returned to the prison in spite of earlier reports suggesting he had been flown to the capital Niamey for treatment.

Amadou’s doctor said an “evacuation permit” has been issued by the Ministry of Interior and Justice but his evacuation is yet to happen.

A spokesperson for the opposition coalition at the weekend said a plan to fly Amadou to Niamey for treatment was canceled at the last minute.

An application for bail for Amadou which was heard on Monday, will be determined on March 28.

Hama Amadou, who has been in jail since November last year, secured almost 18 percent of votes during the February 21 presidential election pushing it into a runoff vote scheduled to be held on March 20.

The opposition coalition for change on March 2 demanded that Amadou be released to enable him contest the March 20 polls.

Source: AFP/

Monday, March 14, 2016

Sudan: Governing party favours early elections

Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) on Sunday said it is ready to accept conduction of early elections, Sudanese Media Center (SMC) reported.

“There are viewpoints crystallizing by the political forces participating in the national dialogue,” Hamid Mumtaz, the NCP political secretary, was quoted as saying.

He said there are two proposals by the parties participating in the national dialogue about how to implement the outcome of the conference.
“The first proposal suggests mandating the President of the Republic to form the coming government of national consensus, while the second suggests formation of the government three months after the endorsement of the final recommendations by the dialogue’s general assembly,” he noted.

According to Sudan’s constitution, the presidential and general elections are to be held each five years, where the coming election is scheduled for April 2020.

In October 2015, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir opened the sessions of the national dialogue conference in Khartoum with the participation of a number of Sudanese political parties, civil society organizations and some Darfur armed groups.

However, major political parties and armed movements have rejected to participate in the conference, including the Revolutionary Front Alliance, which brings together the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)/ northern sector and the major Darfur armed movements.

The conference, which is nearing its end, discussed six major issues including peace, identity, rights and freedoms, economy, external relations and governance. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

South Africa: Opposition fights over president's $200,000 salary

[Selinah Ntobong with RFI] South Africa’s opposition parties are in protest of President Jacob Zuma’s salary increase. They say say he does not deserve it.

Zuma will now earn close to $200,000 dollars a month, following approval by Parliament last week.

The debate on Zuma’s salary hike was part of salary increase discussions by Members of parliament, who also awarded themselves a 4.5 per cent hike.

The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance took to twitter to voice out their discontent about the move

On one of the tweets with an embedded video, the Chief Whip of the party John Steenhuisen is heard saying “ with Nkandla, the president of South Africa drove over us all with the bus.

In December last year, he put the bus in reverse and reversed over all of us, including his own ANC comrades. He then crashes the bus! He then crashes the bus and comes cap in hand to the taxpayers of South Africa and says I’ve done a great job, give me a raise. We say far for so far and for so further”

In January the South Africa’s Minister of finance Pravin Gordan had proposed that that salary increases be frozen as a cost cutting measure.

“We have to look where we cut in respect of the things we are doing already.Unless as i said we grow the revenue base.”

172 Members of Parliament voted in favour of Zuma’s salary increase, while 81 voted against it.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Djibouti: Tension mounts ahead of April 8 polls

A tense climate precedes the upcoming presidential election in Djibouti.

Incumbent President Ismail Guelleh will be seeking a fourth term in the presidential election to be held on April 8.

Djibouti has been in a state of emergency since November 2015 and the opposition has called for a boycott of the election.

Now if both parties are serious and reliable there must not be any political problems among us. Let the opposition present their candidates so that we meet in the field
According to the opposition, efforts to amend the Independent National Electoral Commission have not been effective.

Djibouti’s government has dismissed the allegations.

“In the ruling party, we believe we have fulfilled our share of duty by giving our opinion on the electoral commission. We have also accepted all other conditions requested by the opposition. Now if both parties are serious and reliable there must not be any political problems among us. Let the opposition present their candidates so that we meet in the field,” Ismail Omar Guelleh said.

During the 2011 election, Ismail Guelleh grabbed 80% of the votes cast amidst claims of irregularities from the opposition.

President Guelleh took over from his uncle Hassan Gouled Aptidon in 1999.

Gouled Aptidon had ruled Djibouti since independence from France in 1977.


Niger: Jailed opposition leader to participate in election runoff

Niger opposition candidate, Hama Amadou, jailed since November in a controversial case of child trafficking, will participate in the second round of the presidential election on March 20, his lawyers confirmed to AFP.

The opposition coalition (COPA), highly critical of the first round of presidential elections, said on Tuesday that it had decided to “suspend participation in the electoral process” before the second round scheduled for March 20.

“COPA has just said it is suspending its participation in the process, but Hama is leaving them for the election,” said Mr. Mossi Boubacar, reached by telephone by AFP.

“Hama says he will not withdraw,” stressed the lawyer in reaction to the President of the Independent National Electoral Commission of Niger (INEC), who said on Thursday that he is “determined” to organize the second ballot even without the opposition.

“We are determined to organize the elections on March 20 … so it is not the eventual withdrawal (Hama Amadou, the opposition candidate, currently imprisoned) that will stop us” and “we have constitutional deadlines,” said the president of the CENI, Boubé Ibrahim, during a press conference in Niamey.

“We are working to avoid an institutional vacuum with unpredictable consequences,” he said. According to Ibrahim, “nothing will disturb” the holding of the second round, which “will indeed take place as scheduled.”
“From his cell, which campaign can Hama do? This is a challenger who is prevented from entering the ring. Meanwhile, Issoufou is all around the country by air and organising meetings escorted by a police force,” his lawyer lamented, denouncing “a breach of equality, fairness and opportunity” for his client.

The opponent, Hama Amadou, jailed since November in a controversial case of child trafficking, had to face incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou, 64 years old, during the second round.

He had led the campaign in the first round from his cell, unable to speak publicly to his supporters. According to an alliance signed before the first round, COPA 2016, which includes the main opponents, had united around Hama Amadou, who got 17.73% of the vote in the first round against 48.43% for President Mahamadou Issoufou, who came close to winning.

By projections and relying on accurate reports of scores of the 1st round, Mr. Issoufou widely prevailed in the 2nd round.

COPA, which was highly critical of the 1st round, accused the regime of “fraud” and justified their boycott with the absence of “official proclamation” of the results of the 1st round of February 21, the non-compliance of the duration of the election campaign and “unfair treatment between the two candidates.”

“They (opponents) withdrew because they cannot win. It’s sad. Actually, it does not surprise us. The main significant candidates rallied behind Mr. Issoufou,” Interior Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou who is close to President Issoufou said on Tuesday.

For Mouassa Tchangari, Nigerien civil society figure and notorious opponent to Issoufou, “a crisis is building” in Niger. “This is not a situation that we can rejoice, even if we can understand that the opposition is based more or less to do so,” he told AFP on Wednesday.

More than 7.5 million voters had gone to the polls in the first round of elections in the country of 18 million people, among the poorest in the world and living under the threat of jihadist groups.

The election campaign for the first round of voting was marred by violence between supporters and opponents of the President challenging the regularity of the electoral register.

It was preceded by the arrest of personalities and the announcement of a failed revolt for power.


Angola: President says he step down in 2018 after long stay

Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has announced he will step down in 2018.

Speaking during a congress of the ruling party, the long serving African leader said he will end his political career in the next two years.

Angola is due to hold its general elections in August 2017.

The southern African state is rich in diamonds, which fuelled a 27-year civil war in the country.

In 2001, Dos Santos had announced that he would not seek office in the next presidential elections which were then abolished under the country’s new constitution.

But critics have accused the president of being authoritarian and his government has been accused of committing human rights abuses.

Dos Santos is Africa’s second longest-serving leader and has ruled the continent’s second largest oil exporter since 1979.


Ghana: Electoral Commission urges women to volunteer for running elections

An appeal has been made to women to volunteer for the manning of the 2016 elections.

According to Mr Alexander Akomiah, the Greater Accra Regional Director of the Electoral Commission, when women are in charge of the electoral process, they make it simple because they are polite and meticulous.

“The women we have worked with so far are very good. What they write are very legible and are very time-conscious. Regrettably, only few volunteer,” he said.

Mr Akomiah was speaking on the topic “Participation of women in the electoral process of 2016 general elections” at a symposium organised as part of events marking the international women’s day on Tuesday.

The Tema Metropolitan Assembly’s Community Development Unit organised the forum to sensitise women on their rights and responsibilities.

Mr Akomiah said very soon the Electoral Commission would undertake pre-election activities such as registration and exhibition of the voter register.

He therefore asked women to help in the registration of all eligible voters as well as report death of relatives on the register.

Madam Theresa Ansaa Anafi, Community Development Unit Head of TMA, said women had a crucial role to play in the consolidation of peace in Ghana by ensuring a positive outcome of the electoral process.

According to her, the integration of the gender concept into the electoral process must not be reduced to mere sensitisation of women as voters.

“We must also integrate this concept with a view to promoting women’s participation in the electoral process as candidates, observers, political party agents, and members of the electoral administration,” she added.

Participants underwent free breast screening.

Source: GNA

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Uganda: Police seized evidence of election fraud - Opposition Alleges

[James Butty] Former Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi said Ugandan police Wednesday broke into his lawyers' offices and seized computers and documents containing affidavits of witnesses to electoral fraud in the country's February 18 national poll.

Mbabazi, who was the presidential candidate for the Go Forward Team, is challenging President Yoweri Museveni's re-election in Uganda's Supreme Court, claiming widespread election fraud. His legal team was to present evidence to the Court on Wednesday, but Mbabazi said the theft of witness affidavits has complicated the process.

“First of all, it meant that we were not able to meet the Supreme Court deadline of filing the evidence today, and although we will be going there Thursday for a conferencing meeting, it will be very clear that we would have failed to meet that deadline because the evidence has been taken away by the police,” Mbabazi said.

Mbabazi said witnesses saw men in uniform break into the law offices. "There were at least four eyewitnesses.  It was police in uniform, police in civilian clothing, and the military as well. So it was a big force,” he said.

Mbabazi also said the police have been arresting his supporters and potential witnesses.

The Ugandan police strongly denied Mbabazi’s allegations and said in a statement Wednesday they have mobilized a team to investigate the alleged break-ins. Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said the suspected “break-ins could be an insider job for propaganda value.”

International election observers said Uganda's February 18 election was marred by irregularities, including the late delivery of polling materials in opposition strongholds, some incidents of violence and a government shutdown of social media.

Museveni has been in power since 1986. Previous election victories in 2001 and 2006 were also challenged in court as fraudulent.  

Museveni has denied the allegations.

Source: VOA News Online

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Congo: Opposition leader predicts run-off in presidential polls

Congolese opposition presidential aspirant General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko said President Nguesso will not win the first round of elections, as he announced at the start of campaign.

Speaking at a news conference in Brazzaville, the former presidential adviser said it would be impossible for any candidate to win the March 20 election outright given the electorates in the country.

General Mokoko also said he has signed a charter with four other opposition candidates who will rally behind one candidate to challenge incumbent President Nguesso in the event of a runoff.

The candidates are Pascal Tsaty Mabiala, Claudine Munari, André Okombi Salissa and Guy-Brice Parfait Kolélas.

This comes a few days after President Nguesso, who is seeking a third mandate, promised his supporters a first round win.

Electoral campaigns kicked off last Friday with the President meeting his supporters at the country’s coastal town Pointe-Noire on Saturday.

A total of nine candidates are expected to canvass the country in the hope of getting the country’s top job.


DRC: Candidates present appeals ahead of gubernatorial elections

The Democratic Republic of the Congo on Tuesday began considering appeals on the list of candidates for governors and vice-governors elections. 24 nominations for governor and deputy governor have been made across the country.

Unsurprisingly, the former province of Katanga records the highest number of applications: 15 in total. Most of the candidates from the province have popularly identified themselves as opposition candidates.

The candidates have hit out at the government and the Election Commission for attempting to manipulate the list of nominees. The 15 have been under investigation in Lubumbashi since Monday.

First on the appeal list is Gabriel Kyungu, the founder of the National Union of Federalists of Congo (UNAFEC), who denounced the creation of a duplicate party.

Three former ministers of the former governor of Katanga, Moise Katumbi, have also joined the opposition, to challenge the decision by the Electoral Commission to invalidate their applications on the grounds that they should have notified their former parties.

Many opposition candidates said they had more confidence in the decision of the Court of Appeal of Lubumbashi, after the many changes within the judiciary, on the eve of the deposits of appeal.


Niger: Issoufou set to win run-off after opposition boycott of March 20 polls

Niger’s President, Mahamadou Issoufou; is set to win another term in office following a decision by the opposition coalition on Tuesday to boycott the election run-off scheduled for March 20.

The incumbent is expected to win the run-off because several smaller parties have said they will support him.

The opposition’s candidate, Hama Amadou, has been in jail since November last year on charge of baby-trafficking, a charge he vehemently denies with claims that he is a victim of government persecution.

The election of February 21 was pushed into a second round after Issoufou failed to secure an outright victory. He managed 48.4 percent of votes cast whiles Amadou who campaigned from prison garnered 17.8 percent of votes.

The two men were set to contest in the upcoming run-off with majority of the opposition backing the incacerated Amadou. The opposition had earlier called for his release in order to face Issoufou in the run-off.

Issoufou campaigned on a promise to clamp down on Islamist militants and revive the economy in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world.

Niger is under threat from Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which is based in Nigeria but has staged a series of cross-border attacks in the southeastern Diffa region, forcing the government to impose a state of emergency there.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Benin: Presidential election heads for run-off

[Reuters] - Benin's Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou gained 28.4 percent of votes in a presidential election and will face a run-off against prominent businessman Patrice Talon, results from the national electoral commission showed on Tuesday.

Sunday's election, which was contested by 33 candidates, is to choose a successor to President Thomas Boni Yayi, who is stepping down from power in the small West African state after two terms as mandated by the constitution.

(Reporting by Allegresse Sasse and Samuel Elijah; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Alison Williams)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Benin: Voting underway presidential polls

Benin has began its first round of presidential elections as citizens choose among a record of 33 candidates to succeed outgoing leader Thomas Boni Yayi.

Initially slated for February 28th, the polls were postponed following delays in distribution of voter cards.

Nevertheless, on the eve of the elections the distribution of the voter cards had not started in two of the country’s departments.

Furthermore, the electoral commission was not able to complete the process in several other departments according to AFP.

With 4.7 million voters and more than 7000 polling stations, the first results are expected in the coming days after the ballot.

Among the favourites likely to succeed Yayi is the country’s prime minister Lionel Zinsou, Abdoulaye Bio Tchane a former head of the West African Development Bank and executive of the International Monetary Fund and two prominent businessmen Sebastien Ajavon and Patrice Talon.

Earlier in the week, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) urged the country to hold peaceful elections and said it will deploy observers to monitor the polls to ensure they are free and fair.

This is the sixth presidential election to be held in the West African country. A run-off will be held if none of the candidates wins a straight out majority.


Benin:Campaign ends ahead of presidential election

Voters in Benin will on Sunday head to the polls to choose a new president from a pool of over 30 candidates.

But out of the large number of contenders, there are some candidates who stand out.

Lionel Zinsou of the Cowrie Forces for an Emerging Benin is one of the candidates vying for the top spot.

He continues to enjoy immense support being a candidate of the political alliance.

‘‘You saw the fever. Did you see wherever we go, people welcomed us, people are happy to have someone like Lionel Zinsou as president of the Republic of Benin. Lionel Zinsou for us is a man of development, Lionel Zinsou for us means development of the country, employment for the youth. That is why we support Lionel Zinsou. And we believe that in the first round, we will win,’‘ said Celine Houessinon, a campaigner for Lionel Zinsou.

Pascal Irenee Koupaki, former Prime Minister under President Boni Yayi, is the candidate of the new consciousness.

Abdoulaye Bio Tchane is a former president of the African Development Bank. A failed candidate from the 2011 presidential election, he still prefers to leverage on social projects, projects that prioritize job creation for the youth.

According to him: ‘‘We will start developing from April 6, 2016, I have a National Programme for youth employment. And during the five years we will be in power, we will help this country produce five hundred thousand jobs.’‘

There are also traders in this presidential race like Patrice Talon who in the past used to finance politicians or political parties.

Incumbent President Thomas Boni Yayi is stepping down after two terms at the helm of the small west African nation, paving the way for 33 contenders vying to take up the top job.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Congo: Opposition leader wants March 20 polls delayed

Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko, one of nine presidential candidates in Congo Brazzaville has requested that the March 20 polls be postponed.

The former Chief of Staff of the Congolese Armed Forces justified his request by citing the situation of poor organization towards the polls.

Michel Mokoko pinpoints among others, a poor electoral register and questioned the credibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission, a body he labels as an appendage of the government.

According to him, with the current electoral register and the Independent (National) Electoral Commission whose role is exclusively to monitor the pre-election operations, the election and post (electoral matters,) it was clear that there was not going to be fairness and transparency.

In this case, he thinks it is necessary to review the electoral governance and proposed a dialogue between the various parties on the subject.

No Boycott

The candidate, however, rejects any ideas of a boycott, but said he was compelled ‘‘to call the people to take responsibility,’‘ if ever the application is not considered.

He added that ‘‘the people have the right to vote and to have their vote considered.’‘
The former Army General responded in the negative when asked whether he wanted more time to better prepare for the polls.

In the recent weeks, he has been answering police summons in connection with an investigation into allegations that he wanted to oust the incumbent president, allegations contained in a video circulating in Congo and on social networks.

‘‘No,’‘ he responded, with the view that he had adequately prepared to face the current circumstances, thanks to his military training.

It is not clear whether his request will be favored especially because the various candidates including the incumbent Denis Sassou-Nguesso have already started their electioneering campaign.


Benin: Female presidential candidate makes fourth attempt against 32 others

With a total of 33 presidential candidates in Benin’s presidential elections, Marie Elise Gbedo is one of the contenders in the race that will be decided on March 6.

The 62 years old lawyer is out in the streets of Cotonou, capital of Benin trying to woo voters to support her bid.

This is her fourth attempt to contest for the country’s top seat. In 2001, she only manged to get 1 percent of the votes but she is now hoping that her election manifesto to eradicate youths unemployment and corruption will steer her ambitions among voters.

“I have come up with a manifesto that I call the 5E of Marie Elise Gbedo; where I intend to provide reliable electricity, youth employment, promote entrepreneurship and support entrepreneurs. I will also seek to improve the ease of doing business and overhaul the education system, which has failed,” she added.

She admits of difficulties in steering her ambitions with the country’s male dominated politicians who have always sidelined her for being incapable of leading because she is a woman.

“When Marie Elise put her name forward, there was a barrier that came up. People were told, don’t listen to that woman. A woman can never be a leader. That’s the fight that I face today. In this situation, no one wants to take into account my achievements or the fact that I am capable, all because I am a woman,” she said.

But the former minister of commerce is determined to show that women can even do it better when given the chance.

Around 5 million voters are expected to take part in the exercise as this year’s elections has attracted the state’s top businessmen.

Analysts have described the 2016 elections as a keen fight and as a wide open contest.

The incumbent president has led Benin since 2006 and has been barred from running for a third term as a result of constitutional restrictions.