Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Gabon: Opposition questions nationality of President Bongo ahead of polls

[Africanews/AFP] Opposition leaders in Gabon on Friday called for “each and every Gabonese” to counter the candidature of outgoing President Ali Bongo Ondimba in the election set to be held on August 27, citing “doubts” about his nationality.

“We invite each and every Gabonese to go, now and write a letter to the Election Commission to oppose the candidacy of Ali Bongo and require disqualification of the electoral process”, said three of the main opposition candidates received by the autonomous and permanent national electoral Commission (Cenap), just over two months before the country heads to the polls.

“We encourage them to stand up against the denial of rights, deception, and the abuse of,” the opposition leaders added in a statement read outside the electoral body’s office.

Ali Bongo is an accident of history that cannot and should not be repeated.
Gabon’s opposition have maintained that President Bongo who was elected seven years ago is not the natural son of his predecessor, Omar Bongo Ondimba, who died in June 2009 after almost 42 years in power.

“Ali Bongo is an accident of history that cannot and should not be repeated,” said the opposition candidates who were led by Gabon’s former Assembly President, Guy Nzouba Ndama, former African Union Commision head, Jean Ping, and the former governor of the Bank of Central African States, Casimir Oye Mba.

Opponents – many of whom served in the former regime of his father – accuse him of being an adopted child and say he was born in Nigeria.

A birth certificate, which is in the archives of the central civil status department of the French Foreign Ministry, in Nantes, shows that Ali Bongo was born February 9, 1959 in Brazzaville, capital of the former French Equatorial Africa ( AEF) to which was attached Gabon.

The campaign in the central African nation is taking place in a tense atmosphere after Ping, who has already declared his candidacy, was summoned by judicial authorities who accused him of violating public order.

Gabon’s government filed a complaint against Ping following the release of a video on social networks, where he allegedly said he wanted to “get rid of cockroaches” ahead of the presidential election.

Ping denied having made such comments and refused to appear in court.

Congo: Prosecution requests 5-year jail term for opposition party chief

[Victor Muisyo/AFP] Congolese prosecution on Monday requested five years in prison for Congolese opposition Paulin Makaya, who is facing charges for “inciting disturbances of public order.”

A 5 million CFA francs (USD 8,428) fine was also proposed on him, according to his lawyer Yvon Eric Ibouanga.

The defense had also pleaded for Mr. Makaya’s acquittal, arguing that there was a “serious lack” of evidence, and that he had been kept in prison beyond the maximum period of four months as prescribed by Congolese law.

The final verdict is expected to be delivered on July 25th.

Congolese authorities accuse Mr. Makaya of having organised and participated in an unauthorized protest against the constitutional referendum in October 2015. The referendum allowed the head of state Denis Sassou Nguesso to run for the presidential election of 20 March, which he won to extend his 32 year rule of Congo-Brazzaville.

Makaya who’s the chairman of a small opposition party called United for the Congo (UPC), has been imprisoned since 23 November 2015. He has been considered a political prisoner by several human rights organizations.

In February, Amnesty International called for his immediate release. In May, the French branch of ACAT (Action by Christians Against Torture) had made a similar appeal, saying that Mr. Makaya was in “illegal detention.”

Makaya was the closest collaborator Bernard Kolelas, the founding president of Congolese Movement for Democracy and Integral Development (MCDDI) party in 1991. Following the coup that brought president Denis Sassou Nguesso to power in October 1997, he went into exile in London, where he will stayed for 14 years before returning to Brazzaville on July 30, 2014.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Ghana: Electoral Commission starts preparations for November elections

The spokesman for the Electoral Commission of Ghana says the electoral body is implementing measures in an effort to be ready to administer the November 7 presidential, legislative and local elections.

Eric Dzakpasu said the electoral commission is satisfied and comfortable with its preparation efforts to organize the polls.

This, he said, began with the limited registration of prospective voters who turned 18 years of age this year as well as those who weren’t able to previously register to enable them participate in the elections. The registration, which ended on May 8, is part of the electoral commission’s plans to compile a voter list to be used for the election.

Dzakpasu said the electoral commission’s preparations so far indicate the electoral body is on course to organize a credible and transparent general election.

“We are now at the stage of printing the provisional voter register, which now captures the new applicants who were registered during the limited registration exercise, after which we will be exhibiting the voters register. The exhibition exercise is slated for the 18th of July up to the 7th August 2016,” said Dzakpasu.

“This is an exercise where we update and clean the voters register. Essentially, the opportunity is given to people to go and check their data as captured during the registration period so that people can make corrections to their basic data. In that same exercise, those whose names were inadvertently omitted from the register can now apply for inclusion,” he said.

“When we finish the voter registration exercise, we will now move to the stage where we will take nominations [of candidates] in September and hopefully we will have the elections on 7th of November.”

The voter registration plans however hit a snag when the Supreme Court ruled that voters who used the National Health Insurance cards to register should be removed from the voter list. The judges ruled that the electoral commission erred by registering voters with the health insurance card. They asked the electoral body to come up with plans to carry out their orders.

“Following the ruling, the Supreme Court made very specific clear cut orders [Thursday] and we are supposed to go back to the Supreme Court on the 29th of June and present a list of people who registered with the National Health Insurance card far back in 2012, whom later were declared to be ineligible to be on the voters register. This list we are going to present to the Supreme Court and then submit a written memo on the steps or procedure that we would use to delete such people from the register in readiness for the election,” said Dzakpasu.

He said the electoral commission is working closely with the political parties to address any of their concerns or consider their suggestions before the polls. He added that the partnership between the two groups remains cordial.

“We meet frequently at the Interparty Advisory Committee level where we exchange ideas and we build consensus on issues and innovation that we want to bring into the system and then mark the way forward. So, I will say the relationship between us and the political parties, so far, so good,” said Dzakpasu.

Meanwhile, the electoral commission said it plans to increase the polling stations across the country to 29,000.

VOA news

Ghana: Police pledges to be neutral during election

Ghana's Inspector General of Police John Kudalor says officers will be ”positively neutral” in the upcoming November general election.

Kudalor’s spoke at the official opening of the recently held national police command conference attended by police commanders across the country. The focus of the conference was to ascertain the preparedness of the police before presidential, legislative and local elections.

Local media quoted Kudalor as saying, “We are going to be very professional, politically, I am going to be very neutral to ensure that the people of this country get the best of security services... We have no reason to fail this country... To ensure that in spite of the turmoil in the sub-region, Ghana would still be a beacon of peace.”

Kudalor also called on citizens, as well as prospective voters, to eschew violence and to remain peaceful during the election process.

Cephas Arthur, Ghana police spokesman, insisted that officers have discharged their mandate fairly by enforcing the law irrespective of the political party in power since the re-introduction of constitutional rule in 1992.

Training for election

He says the police have also stepped up training efforts for officers who would be deployed to polling stations across the country during the elections.

“The National Election Security Taskforce which is the body that oversees the security arraignments for the election has been inaugurated earlier than usual. This particular year, the National Election Security Taskforce was inaugurated on the 20th January quite earlier than other election years when it is usually inaugurated in June or July,” said Arthur. “As part of preparation towards the elections, a series of orientation, training programs and seminars have been lined up to bring personnel of the service up to speed with modern trends of protecting or policing elections.”

Supporters of major political parties including the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) have often accused police officers of bias during elections.

Arthur dismissed the allegations.

“Often times these allegations are baseless,” he said. “Nonetheless, the police are going to be impartial. How do we become impartial, how do you become positively neutral? We become so when we are professional, we adhere to the tenets of our profession to remain neutral. And when you adhere to the tenets of the profession, you are [a] hundred percent likely to be neutral and to be impartial and that is what we are going to adhere to.”

Vigilante groups

Meanwhile, Ghanaians have expressed concern about vigilante groups hired by political parties to provide protection during elections. The groups are accused of attacking opponents during elections. Interior Minister Prosper Bani called on the police to ban the vigilante or security groups.

“We are not going to give any such groupings be they personal security groupings or vigilante groupings, any leeway to operate. And in fact we have made it very clear to them that they don’t have existence in our laws,” said Arthur.


Zambia: Opposition UPND expects PF/FDD alliance in a rerun

The opposition UPND says it is aware that the ruling PF and FDD want to enter into an alliance in an event that there is a rerun after the August 11th General Elections.

UPND Chairman for Rural Reconstruction and Development Moono Mapani says it is very clear from the way the FDD Leader Edith Nawakwi has been coming out on the opposition UPND that she will support the PF.

Mapani says there plan will not work as the UPND will win in the first round of the elections without going into the rerun.

He says Nawakwi as the only female contender, should show respect to other contenders and not attack her opponents unnecessarily.

Meanwhile, Mapani has urged the police service to remain vigilant and ensure that they continue to bring to book culprits of political violence.

He says it is very clear that the police have been reluctant in arresting PF cadres perpetrating violence in the country and that this can be ended by the police if they act professionally.

Source: zambiareports.com

Ghana: There'll be chaos if incumbent wins 2016 polls – Opposition lawmaker

Maverick lawmaker Kennedy Agyapong has warned that there will be chaos in Ghana if the Electoral Commission attempts to cheat the NPP flagbearer in the upcoming elections.

According to him, the party will not allow the EC to declare President John Mahama winner of the polls, if there is evidence that Nana Akufo-Addo is the actual winner in the ballot, expected to be held in November.

Addressing supporters of the elephant family in Kumasi, the Assin North MP also accused the chairperson of electoral commission of exchanging her womanhood for the position.

“If Charlotte declares Mahama winner, that day; make nobody make a mistake, Liberians were peaceful, Sierra Leoneans were peaceful but when they got to that point….all die be die,” he charged

He continued: “If she attempts to steal the vote, if they haven’t thought of it, they should. If the pink sheet suggests that Nana Addo has won and they try to declare Mahama winner; it will never happen. That day, if you are pastor stay home, if you are not a man, stay home, we will fight to defend this country. I am confident Ghanaians will vote for the NPP but the electoral commission has decided to cheat us. As the judges said, we will not allow them to plunge this country into chaos".

Ghana goes to the polls in November to elect a president and parliamentarians. The frontrunners are President John Mahama of the ruling National Democratic Congress and Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party.

This is the third time Akufo-Addo is making an attempt at the presidency haven been beaten earlier by the late John Atta Mills in 2008.


Ghana: Youth are disappointed in politicians - Peace Council

Chairman of the National Peace Council, Rev. Professor Emmanuel Asante, says Ghana’s youth are disappointed in the political process of the country.

According to him, politicians have contributed to the situation because rather than solving the many challenges of the country, they end up making more promises without fulfilling them.

“To be honest with you when you talk to a lot of the young people, they are disappointed because we are talking too much when they have no jobs,” he said.

Head of Ghana’s Peace Council disclosed this when he addressed a Peace Summit organised by the Rotary Club in Accra.

“We are creating tension and fear which shouldn’t be the case,” he said, noting this has compelled many of the youth to lose confidence in the electoral process.

Recounting his interaction with some of the youth, Rev. Prof Asante said: “I have come into contact with some young people who said they will not even vote for the simple reason that all of them [politicians] are the same.”

This, he believes should not have happened in the first place had politicians been cautious of the promises made to Ghanaians.

“But I think politicians should do something to salvage that image,” he said, adding, they have to do a lot of explanation in order to change that impression.

“You need to explain things clearly to the people and the challenges and what efforts are being made to address the challenges,” he added.

As the only flagbearer who honored the invitation to sign the Peace deal, Presidential Candidate of People’s National Convention (PNC), Dr Edward Mahama used the opportunity to call on the youth to let peace prevail in the country.

He explained “young people are like atoms. They have a lot of potentials, they have a lot of energy and if you don’t channel that energy productively, and you leave that energy it will be destructive.”
He cautioned them to desist from acts that will incite violence in the country, adding “just go and let your thumb do the talking.”

Source: Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | Austin Brako-Powers

Ghana: 2016 polls: Police backtracks on social media ban

The Director of Communications at the Police Service, Superintendent Cephas Arthur has clarified that Social Media will not be blocked on Election Day contrary to claims by the Inspector General of Police John Kudalor.

Mr. Kudalor had earlier suggested that a social media ban on election was being considered as one of the security measures to be put in place to counter trouble makers.

“If it becomes critical on the eve and also on the Election Day, we shall block all social media as other countries have done. We’re thinking about it,” Mr. Kudalor said.

His comments generated widespread condemnation by several institutions including the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), BloggingGhana and the UN.

Majority of Ghanaians also criticized the decision describing it as undemocratic and backward.

But speaking at Blogging Ghana’s Blog camp on Saturday, SP Arthur said the IGP’s comment was made on the spur of the moment and not a decision that had been taken by the Police Service.

“The IGP used the word alternatives but it looks as if nobody heard the other alternatives that he mentioned because nobody is discussing that. This was not part of his speech. It was a kind of off the top of his head answer.

“Let us not be alarmed. The IGP is not about to block social media on election day and we are going to have our social media,” SP Arthur said.

Source: Ghana/Starrfmonline.com/103.5FM/Kobina Welsing

Friday, June 24, 2016

Ghana: Former UN boss kicks against social media ban

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has advised the Ghana government to look at the positive sides of social media rather than considering ways of suppressing it during the 2016 elections.

Speaking on the theme: “Credible and Peaceful Elections: A Prerequisite for Africa’s Progress” on Thursday, Mr. Annan said it will not be worth the effort for any state institution to shut down social media.

Governments which have managed to shut down social media have only “made gains in the short term”, the veteran diplomat noted when he delivered the 2016 Kronti Ne Akwamu Lectures in Accra.

Mr. Annan explained that the world is currently more socially connected than before. “What you shut down here is available elsewhere,” he maintained. He, therefore, called for consensus building in considering such a move.

The Inspector General of Police (IGP) had suggested at a media forum that the Ghana Police Service was considering a social media blackout on the eve and day of the 2016 elections. The suggestion did not, however, go down well with many with some already threatening demonstration at such a move.

Source: Ghana/Starrfmonline.com/103.5fm/Miriam Hayford

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ghana: Governing party boycotts presidential debate

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has served notice that none of its candidates would participate in any debate organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) ahead of the November elections.
A statement signed and released Tuesday by the party’s General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah said the decision was made at the party’s Functional Executive Committee meeting.

“NDC, has, at its Functional Executive Committee (FEC), Meeting on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, decided not to participate in any debate to be organized by the Institute Of Economic Affairs (IEA), as far as it is related to the 2016 General Election,” the statement said.

“All Party Structures (especially the Youth and Women's wings), are to take note and comply accordingly,” it added.

The NDC had earlier noted that it would not take part in this year’s IEA debates, accusing the institution of being in bed with the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).

But the IEA in a response said the absence of the ruling NDC would not affect the debate in any way.

Graphic Online

Ghana: 2016 polls: Don’t endorse candidates – Traditional leaders advised

The Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu has warned chiefs under his jurisdiction to desist from endorsing political parties and candidates as Ghana readies for the 2016 elections.

According to the Ashanti monarch, although the law does not bar chiefs from voting, they must not compromise their neutrality in the eyes of their subjects.

Addressing the Ashanti regional House of Chiefs, Otumfuo however noted that there is nothing wrong with chiefs acknowledging and appreciating government for projects undertaken in their area.

“All the various parties are in your communities so desist from openly showing that you belong to one side, because you serve and lead all of them.

“As humans, when you go to the booth on election day, nobody can tell you who to vote for; that is your choice and nobody can stop you from voting for your preferred candidate. What I urge you, however, is that don’t go showing support for any of them for your people to know where you belong,” he stated.

He continued: "But if government does something for you and you want to express your appreciation, that is not against the law, and there is nothing wrong with that. But showing support for any of the candidates and political parties is not allowed by our tradition so be careful as chiefs”.

Ghana goes to the polls on November 7. President John Mahama of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Nana Akufo-Addo of the main opposition New Patriotic Party are the frontrunners.

Source:Ghana/StarrFMonline.com/103.5FM/Danso Acheampong

Ghana: SC orders EC to compile list of 'NHIS voters' by June 29 for deletion

The Supreme Court has ordered the Electoral Commission to compile a list of all voters who were registered onto the poll roll by using their national health insurance cards, which the same court had earlier ruled was not a document that could be used as proof of one’s citizenship.

The Supreme Court on Thursday June 23 gave the EC up to June 29 to comply with the order and submit the list to the court for scrutiny.

The court on 5 May, 2015 ordered the EC to delete the names of ‘NHIS voters’ from the register as well as those who were deceased and minors as part of processes to clean the register.

At Thursday’s hearing, the court ordered the EC to develop a guideline on the specific processes and methods it plans using to carry out the deletion of such names.

The case has been adjourned to June 30.

Source: Ghana/ClassFMonline.com/91.3fm

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Uganda: State to present video leader in court incriminating opposition

Ugandan opposition leader, Dr Kizza Besigye has finally appeared before the Kasanangati Magistrate’s court, this comes after the court ordered that his trial would be in the court contrary to a request for it to be held in the Luzira prisons where he is being held.

The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leader is facing charges of treason after he decided to swear himself in as president with days to the official swearing-in of president Museveni after the February polls.
Uganda’s Daily Monitor reports that security has been tightened around Kasangati Magistrate’s Court.

Supporters of FDC filled Kasangati court presided over by Mr Freddy Egessa to hear court proceedings which will include the state tabling more evidence to pin the four time challenger of president Yoweri Museveni.

The Monitor continues to state that the State was preparing to show video evidence over how Besigye disobeyed lawful orders and didn’t follow prescribed route to Najjanankumbi.

Dr Besigye, facing treason charges before Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court, is on remand in Luzira prison.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Zambia: President Lungu to seek re-election

[Africanews/PRESS AGENCIES] Zambia’s president Edgar Lungu has said he is seeking to rule the Southern African country for the next five years.

Lungu who has been in power for just over a year is seeking re-election in the country’s August presidential polls.

The 59 year old leader came into power after winning a ballot triggered by the death of his predecessor, Michael Sata, in October 2014.

Reports indicate that Lungu is basing on his re-election strategy on his achievements during his tenure.

Meanwhile, the country’s electoral commission has threatened to bar campaigning ahead of the elections due to growing cases of violence.

The violence incidents have been mainly between the supporters of the governing Patriotic Front and the main opposition United Party for National Development.

With nine candidates in the presidential race, analysts believe that the election is a two horse race between Lungu and Hakainde Hichilema of the opposition party who came second in last year’ s election.

Ghana: Christians call for peace after Nov polls

The Christian Council of Ghana has urged Ghanaians to ensure peace before, during and after this year’s elections.

According to the Chairman of the Council, Rev. Dr. Ernest Adu-Gyamfi, it is a collective duty to prevent anarchy in a polarised political atmosphere.

Rev. Dr. Adu-Gyamfi was speaking at the launch of “Election 2016 Christian and Public Education Campaign”, which is aimed at educating the public on issues that border on the November polls.

He said: “As a nation, we have an obligation to work towards achieving these peaceful, free and fair elections, especially in a highly-polarised political atmosphere like the one we find ourselves in at the moment. To this end, the Christian Council Ghana has outlined some programmes that we want to pursue to help in terms of Christian public education in relation to the campaigns for this year. We do acknowledge the fact that the stakes are very high, we must prevail as a nation, since failure is not an option for us”.

Ghana goes to the polls to elect a new president and members of parliament on November 7 this year.

Source: Ghana/ClassFMonline.com/91.3fm

Zambia: Diplomat expresses fears over electoral violence

[By Peter Adamu] German Ambassador to Zambia Bernd Finke has described as alarming the escalated political violence in the Country.

Finke says the political violence being witnessed is actually harming Zambia's reputation of being a peaceful country.

He notes that this is besides being threatening its investment climate and tourism potential.

Finke is calling upon political parties in the Country to avoid all forms of violence during the election period and maintain peace.

Source: zambiareports.com

Zambia: Elections are not won through fights - Clergy

[By Peter Adamu] The Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) has reminded political parties that elections are not won through physical fights and intimidation of opponents.

EFZ Executive Director Pukuta Mwanza says political parties taking part in the August general election should also know that none of them owns the Zambian people.

Reverend Mwanza states that this means that it is the right of every Zambia to listen to any campaign message and later make the decision on which political party to vote for.

He says preventing another political party from campaigning is unfair and an act of interference of the democratic rights of such a party.

Reverend Mwanza says the church's appeal to all political parties is to desist from violence and from distributing alcoholic drinks during their campaign rallies.

Source: zambiareports.com

Zambia: Electoral body gets tough on campaign violence

[Peter Clottey] The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has warned political parties and their supporters to stop engaging in violence as the parties intensify their campaigns for August 11 presidential, parliamentary and local elections.

Chris Akufuna, spokesman for the electoral commission, says the constitution empowers the electoral body to suspend or prevent a political party, as well as candidates, from participating in elections if it concludes that party supporters have engaged in acts of violence in the runup to the polls.

There have been accusations and counter-accusations between supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party and the main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).

“The commission has observed with dismay the rising levels of intolerance and violence and to that effect, the commission has condemned the misbehavior, the intolerance and violence. And it is for that reason that the commission has reminded political parties that they should conduct their campaigns peacefully. If they do not, then the commission will invoke this power contained in section 28 and section 110 of the Electoral Process Bill, which empowers the commission to suspend campaigns or indeed disqualify a candidate,” said Akufuna.

Some Zambians have questioned the ability of the electoral commission to investigate the ongoing violence before taking action ahead of the elections. Some political parties had accused police and other state security agencies of being biased in favor of the ruling party and its supporters.

FILE - In this photo taken April 7, 2016, a burnt out vehicle lays on its roof in Lusaka, Zambia. On April 20, 2016, police arrested more than 250 people for alledgedly attacking foreign nationals and looting their stores.
FILE - In this photo taken April 7, 2016, a burnt out vehicle lays on its roof in Lusaka, Zambia. On April 20, 2016, police arrested more than 250 people for alledgedly attacking foreign nationals and looting their stores.
Police officials say Zambia police are constitutionally empowered to enforce the law irrespective of political affiliation. They rejected the accusation of bias in favor of the ruling PF.

Asked when the electoral commission will conclude that a particular group of people is complicit in carrying out violence against opponents, spokesman Akufuna said the electoral body is working with security agencies to prevent further acts of violence.

“It is for that reason that the commission has decided firstly to remind them, to warn them. So we have made it clear to them that we are watching events unfolding and if that behavior continues, the commission will have no alternative, but to invoke that part of the law, either to follow up with these political parties that are reported to be causing the violence or indeed to disqualify their candidate,” said Akufuna.

He also says the electoral commission has called on the police to deal firmly with perpetrators of violence.

Political parties recently met with religious leaders following the escalation of violence. Party leaders promised to encourage their supporters to avoid engaging in violence in the run up to the polls. But recent local media reports show escalating violence despite the pledge by the political leaders.

Electoral commission spokesman Akufuna says the religious leaders appear to be disappointed that supporters of the parties are still engaging in violence.

“We are aware that yes, they made the pledge that they are going to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner. The church is equally disturbed and we have just heard from the church condemning the rising levels of violence.”


Ghana: Top UN official advocates ban of political vigilante groups

Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the UN Secretary General Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, has called on the leadership of political parties to expunge unregulated security bodies or vigilante groups from their structures.

Such unregulated parallel security forces, he said, could pose challenges and undermine the general security of the nation during the November election if steps were not taken by political parties to ban them.

Dr Chambas was speaking at a press conference on the upcoming November election at the Accra International Conference Centre on Friday.

He urged the parties to show leadership and purge their structures of those groups as well as disassociate themselves entirely from their activities or formations in the interest of the nation’s security.

“We acknowledge that these groups are likely to stir a political climate of intolerance and violence that cannot be conducive and helpful in the preparations towards the impending elections,” he said.

Dr Chambas reminded political parties of their responsibility to safeguard the country’s stability as they campaigned towards peaceful polls.

He urged stakeholders including political party supporters to use existing mechanisms for dispute resolution to bridge their differences so as to avert violence.

He said the ability of the Electoral Commission, the Judicial System, the Election Security Taskforce and other electoral stakeholders to address any emerging situations in a prompt, professional and restrained manner would be crucial to a peaceful election.

Dr Chambas highlighted the need for political parties and stakeholders in elections to work closely and inclusively through consultations to build consensus towards ensuring credible and peaceful election.

He said the Kumasi Declaration, signed by presidential candidates in 2012, contributed greatly to a peaceful election and encouraged the National Peace Council to continue its consultative process towards signing similar peace accords during this year.

“As you know Ghana has, over the years, demonstrated exemplary conduct of elections with a proven track record of national ownership and managing peaceful transitions.

“Once again the international community has high expectations that the upcoming presidential and legislative elections would be conducted in a peaceful and credible manner, in line with this well-deserved reputation as a model for the region and beyond,” he said.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Zambia: Opposition candidate insists he meets educational requirement

The vice presidential candidate for Zambia’s main opposition party has challenged the government to arrest him if it concludes that he presented fake credentials to enable him to participate in the August 11 general election.

The constitution requires that political candidates have at least a 12th-grade certificate or its equivalent. Supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front say Geoffrey Mwamba, of the opposition United Party for National Development, lacks the educational qualification to run for vice president.

Mwamba was defense minister and a prominent financier of the PF before defecting to the UPND. PF supporters say one reason for his defection was that he could not produce documentation of his education as the PF sought to ensure that all of its candidates were in good standing.

UPND spokesman Charles Kakoma rejected the allegations as a PF publicity stunt aimed at scoring cheap political points before the elections.

“Those allegations are totally false," he said. "Our running mate for vice president is fully qualified under the constitution to run in the forthcoming elections. ... Mr. Geoffrey Mwamba has an advanced diploma in business and investment from a college in the United Kingdom, and therefore qualifies. That diploma was subjected to scrutiny, and the Zambia Qualification Authority certified it as suitable for this election.”

Local media reports said UPND leaders panicked after PF members questioned Mwamba’s education credentials. The reports said Mwamba threatened to stop all financial support to the UPND if the party demanded that he provide proof of the credentials.

“Those allegations are false. ... Mr. Mwamba did not threaten the United Party for National Development with the withdrawal of any funds that he might have contributed. That is totally false. As things stand now, Mr. Mwamba is qualified and would run in the election,” Kakoma said.

Asked if the UPND had a backup plan if the credentials are challenged and subsequently rejected, Kakoma said the UPND was ready for the elections. The constitution stipulates that when a candidate is disqualified, the party has to nominate a replacement.

“If it has to come to that, it means even the election would have to be postponed to allow for a fresh nomination," Kakoma said. "But it is all unnecessary because it won’t happen [since] our candidate is fully qualified to run for this election.”

Accusations of violence

Meanwhile, the PF has accused UPND supporters of violence and intimidation, mainly in the opposition strongholds.

Frank Bwalya, deputy campaign manager for the PF, said the party had received several reports of violence against its supporters.

“I have heard reports [that] our cadres were attacked in Monze, in Lusaka. ... I have also heard reports about how our cadres were attacked in many places," Bwalya said. "As a party, we are saying there is no need to kill one another over one going to the state house. We have made it very clear that violence is violence and it should be condemned.”

UPND spokesman Kakoma said the PF was to blame for the violence. He said state security agencies appeared not to be enforcing the law fairly.

“It is the PF supporters that are unleashing violence," he said. "Within this week, they have been attacking people on the roads, at bus stops, in markets, those that are seen to be wearing the UPND regalia and anybody suspected to be UPND. All our vehicles that are branded in UPND colors are being stoned and smashed, and in the last 10 days or so, the PF cadres invaded our headquarters.”


Ghana: 2nd Lady advocates for unity ahead of Nov. polls

Ghana’s second lady Mrs. Matilda Amissah-Arthur has appealed to Ghanaians not to allow politics to divide them ahead of the 2016 elections.

Speaking during a donation in Winneba, Mrs Amissah-Arthur said: “The people in the area must unite for the development of the region and the country towards peace, unity and accelerated socio-economic development.”

Mrs. Amissah-Arthur donated quantity of trays, head pans and nets to the Enyidado Fish Mongers Association in Effutu constituency in Winneba.

According to her, Ghanaians must not allow partisan politics to destabilise the peace of the country because “there is only one Ghana”.

Mrs Amissah-Arthur said government was committed in helping the fishmongers and other professionals. She said the NDC government places premium on the fishing industry because it provided jobs for two million people and reaffirmed its resolve to support women in the industry.

The Second Lady also took her environmental crusade to the area and educated them on the need to be clean and live in clean environment to avoid cholera.

She also called on them to empower their children through education since it remains one of the best ways for the country’s socio economic development, “so that the youth can become our future leaders.”

Source: Ghana/starrfmonline.com/103.5FM/Maxwell Okamafo Addo

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ghana: Peace campaign launched ahead of 2016 polls

Peaceful Character Education Foundation (PCEF) will organise a sensitization and awareness campaign to educate Ghanaians on how to maintain peace during and after the 2016 general elections.

The campaign will be under the theme Peace In Ghana 2016 and beyond.

“As citizens of Ghana it is important for us to live in a country of peace and tranquility. This peace must be realised in all facets of our life, at all levels of our social fabric and in all our institutions including our homes, schools, workplaces and places of worship.

“As part of this initiative PCEF is organising a sensitisation and awareness campaign to educate all Ghanaians on how to keep the peace before, during and after the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Ghana,” a statement from PCEF said.

The campaign will be based on a 5 point plan listed below.

5 Point Plan for Peace in Ghana 2016 Elections

SELF CONTROL: Lets Guide and direct our thoughts, because our thoughts lead to feelings and feelings leads to actions which lead to a POSITIVE outcome or a NEGATIVE outcome.

RESPECT: each other’s views and opinions and Respect and Protect property and environment

ACCEPTANCE: of election results no matter the outcome

RESPONSIBILITY: All stakeholders should strive to perform their duties appropriately and to the best of their abilities

In all things lets S.T.O.P.: Stop, Think, weigh our Options and Proceed with the right choice. The right choice is a choice that would not bring harm to anybody, to property and to the environment.
PCEF will also organise a number of programmes ahead of the campaign.
Day 1: Friday, 1st July 2016

Program: Peace Walk – Walk for Peace in Ghana 2016 and beyond

Location: Starts at Circle(EIB Network Park) through Accra and back to CircleDay 2: Saturday, 2nd July 2016
Program: Launch of the Peace In Ghana 2016 and beyond
Venue: GNAT(Teachers ) Hall

By: Marian Ansah/citifmonline.com/Ghana

Ghana: Opposition vows to declare election results

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has vowed to declare its own results after the presidential and parliamentary elections are conducted on November 7.

Campaign manager of the NPP, Peter Mac Manu speaking to a group of supporters in Takoradi in the Western region boldly stated that the party would defy every authority in the country including the Inspector General of Police and the Electoral Commission to declare their own election results.

“In this election, the NPP will also declare our own results,” Mr Mac Manu said amid shouts and cheers from party supporters in Takoradi.

The former Chairman of the NPP added: “...The IGP cannot stop us. Whether you are the Electoral Commission, whether you are a police or security officer, whether you are a polling agent, whether you are a chief, you cannot stop NPP from declaring results.”

The Electoral Commission by law is the only body mandated to declare results after elections are conducted.

Meanwhile, the Western regional director of the EC Steve Opoku Mensah has strongly opposed the claims of Mr. Mac Manu.

Speaking to Radio Maxx, Mr. Mensah said “political parties have no right to declare election results… election results are always declared by Electoral Commission of Ghana and not political parties.”

Source: Ghana/Starrfmonline.com/103.5FM/Kobina Welsing

Ghana:Penplusbytes partners EIB Network for elections 2016 coverage

Penplusbytes and Excellence in Broadcasting Network (EIB) have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly cover the Ghana 2016 elections under Penplusbytes’ African Elections Project (AEP).

The African Elections Project after successfully covering more than 35 elections in over 14 African countries including Ghana will, ahead of and during the November 2016 polls, undertake a series of joint activities with EIB Ghana to support a free and fair elections. This will include such activities as data journalism trainings which are aimed at improving the ability of journalists and the news media to provide more timely and relevant elections information and knowledge.

A radio media campaign will also be executed to ensure incidents of election irregularities or occasions of violence to reach a wider audience besides the national security task force, the electoral commission and other election stakeholders if the need arises.

Another aspect of the project is code named the “Ghana Elections Record”. Under this, an interactive online and mobile based system will be deployed which would track and verify key campaign promises made by candidates. The output of this platform will be amplified on radio and on social media.

With its youth brand- Live FM, EIB Network and Penplusbytes will promote active participation of the youth in the electoral process. Short videos to be distributed via WhatsApp and social media will highlight key steps in the electoral process to empower first time voters especially.

According to the executive director of Penplusbytes, Kwami Ahiabenu II, “this partnership is indeed timely especially as the hype in the political space of the country mounts each day ahead of the November polls. This agreement is definitely in line with our vision of being the leading body for promoting effective governance using technology in Africa”.

The group managing editor of EIB Network, Eyram Bashan, admitted the vital role the media plays in the choosing of a president and parliamentarians. She reiterated that EIB Ghana is poised to raise the bar of serving quality and globally competitive content to audiences while serving the noble interest of the public’s right to know.

“Our partnership with Penplusbytes is another giant leap towards the goal of providing a holistic media coverage of the upcoming polls. Using our media resources including talents and spread we are partnering another strong and credible brand in election monitoring in Ghana to radicalize the way we gather the news, package and serve our teeming and varied audiences. This is to empower voters to take charge of the processes that determine their next set of rulers,” she said.

Source: Ghana/starrfmonline.com/103.5FM/Penplusbytes

Monday, June 6, 2016

Kenya: Opposition rejects police warning, hit the streets again

[Africanews] Supporters of Kenya’s opposition party, Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), have once again hit the streets on Monday to continue protests despite warning by police after declining the party’s notification.

Already, protesters have blocked roads while they burn tyres and stones in Kenya’s western city of Kisumu. The protesters are also carrying banners and shouting the slogan “IEBC must go”, Reuters reports.

The weekly protests, which began since April, are against the country’s electoral body, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which the opposition accuse of being biased and call for its immediate dissolution.

A meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga last week failed to defuse tensions after the opposition suspended its protests for the talks.

On Thursday last week, the opposition party CORD sent a letter to the police notifying them of a “peaceful demonstration” today.

The police replied on Friday declining the notification citing a high court order barring any demonstrations against the electoral body.

The declination was followed with a caution statement that any person who demonstrates “will be in breach of the law and risks arrest and prosecution”.

The police have come under criticism for violence meted out at anti-IEBC protesters in April when riot police were caught on camera beating protesters after tear gas and water canons were used to disperse them.

Internal investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Ghana: November 7 election date not feasible - Group

The Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, Nana Attobrah Quaicoo has urged parliament to be firm and scrutinize the bill for the consideration of November 7 polls, ensuring  that the Election Management Body does not rush the bill through parliament.

“In as much as the country appears to be desirous of and impatient for change, the Minority should not allow the EC to impose a November 7, 2016 date on us if it cannot convince the country that it has taken the necessary, legitimate, logical, efficient and impartial steps,” Nana Attobrah told  a news conference in Accra Thursday.

Nana Attobrah Quaicoo has raised red flags on the concerns over the practicalities of holding this year’s elections on November 7, with just some few months to the 2016 elections.

He explained that “It is important to recognize that, going by the proposed November 7 date, we have just five months to vote and the law imposes a mandatory freeze on any modification of the active register for this year’s elections, 60 days (or two months) before voting. This means, the entire process of deletion and re-registration of millions of names must be completed before September 7 if the November 7 date should hold.”

“What must be done must be done and nothing should compromise the credibility of elections,” he noted, adding that the whole process  looks like an insurmountable challenge vis a vis EC’s posture on the May 5, Supreme court ruling on the voters register.

According to the think tank Chief, this is where the minority ought to stand firm to ensure a credible, free and fair elections when discussions are held on it on the floor of the house.

Also he said, the EC cannot escape from the Supreme Court decision, hence it must psyche itself to comply with the terms of the May 5 ruling by the apex court without delay.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Ghana: Electoral body urged to crack whip on defaulting parties

The Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana should impose sanctions on political parties who failed to submit audited financial accounts at the close of EC’s deadline on Tuesday May 31, Dr Ransford Gyampo, a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Ghana has indicated.

“It is important that if the EC really means business, it cracks the whip or gives sanctions to those who have violated the law. If they had done this since a long while ago, political parties would have taken them seriously,” he told Emefa Apawu on Class FM’s 505 news programme on Tuesday May 31.

The governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) were among 19 political parties that failed to meet the deadline.

The EC in April threatened to apply sanctions in accordance with the law if the parties failed to comply with the requirement of the Political Parties’ Law Act 574. The EC, among other things, requires political parties to submit audited accounts for the year. It also requires political parties to furnish it with details of the existence and location of their district offices.

Speaking to Class FM’s Paa Kwesi Parker-Wilson, the Director of Finance of the EC, Joseph Kwaku Asamoah, explained that the Commission would soon meet to take a decision on defaulters.

According to him, the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Convention People’s Party (CPP), National Democratic Party (NDP), Democratic People’s Party (DPP), Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), Independent People’s Party (IPP), and the United Front Party (UFP) were the parties who had met the obligations.

“We have about 26 political parties in our books and seven have been able to beat the deadline,” he stated.

From 2012, the NDC and NPP have failed to submit their financial statements and Mr Asamoah indicated that “there must be an end to the road somewhere”.

“We cannot sit down aloof. The Commission in its wisdom thinks we need to ensure compliance and the provisions of the law were not established yesterday. It has been in the statute books since 2000; there must be an end to the road,” he stated.

Source: Ghana/ClassFMonline.com/91.3fm

Ghana: Political scientist calls for independent President in 2016

Mr Carl Wilson, a political scientist, has called on Ghanaians to use the November 7, General Election as a platform to elect the first independent President, who would not be influenced by any political party.

“Let us start to negotiate the way forward, let us consider the reason why, as a nation and as a people, we must come together and change the way we are governed.

“Let us throw out the current system and replace it with a New System of Governance prescribed by the Constitution.”

He told Ghana News Agency in Accra on Wednesday that Ghana is not going in the right direction and since the 1992 Constitution was promulgated, Ghanaians have been ruled by Executive Presidents, who are made powerless by the dictates of the political parties that brought them to power.

This phenomenon therefore, in his opinion, influences the citizenry to constantly agitate for change.

He said after Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings 11 years revolutionary rule, Ghanaians yearned for a constitutional government leading to the current constitution.

Mr Wilson said after eight years of Rawlings rule under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Ghanaians again clamoured for change and in 2000 Mr John Agyekum Kufuor was elected as President under the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

He said in 2008 there was another cry for change and NDC came to power again.

He noted that this time Ghana changed back to NDC not because the people believed the party was any better than the NPP but because there was no credible alternative.

“We all hoped NDC would have learnt a lesson, having been in opposition for eight years.”

Mr Wilson said in 2016 Ghanaians are yearning for change once more.

“Ghana is not going in the direction. Ghana is not working and it is all about the ‘Winner-Takes- All’.”

He said the youth who have about 70 per cent presence in the voters register, must throw their weight to change the political history of the nation.

Mr Wilson said: “The future of this nation is in the hands of the youth and they must rise up, take the bull by the horn, and change their destiny.”

“As a people, we have done our bit to truly build a system that would help propel Ghana towards a sustained development.

“As a people, we have, again and again trusted and tested the two dominant political parties, believing they would work together to bring us together… people to prosecute our national development agenda.

“If after all these genuine efforts, as a people, we do not feel or see satisfaction, we must come together and say enough is enough and effect a change.

“It is said in unity there is strength.  Our history would show that Ghana had always succeeded whenever its people garner the courage to come together and act.  This is what sets us apart from the rest of the other countries in Africa.

“Let us call for a new system of governance, under, which electing a President is not tied to any political party, and thus independent of any political control or interference by any organised groups of people.”

Mr Wilson said: “This system would produce a President who would be truly free to exercise the powers granted him by the constitution.  A president who would have a free hand to appoint people he believes would help him build the nation.

“A President whose actions are not controlled and/or dictated by fear or favour and not limited to a few groups of people or cronies but cut across the political divide.

“This system of governance would give birth to a President who would govern in the interest of the country he is elected to serve and not in the interest of a political party.”

He said the “Winner Takes All” system does not promote the togetherness required for government and opposition to work hand in hand, in the interest, and for the sake of the people and country.

He noted that it breeds an atmosphere of envy, contempt and greed and creates and promotes animosity because the party with majority controls the executive.

“The two dominant parties spend a great part of their time and energy at each other’s throat, trying to undo each other, instead of focusing on the needs of the people they are elected to serve.”

Mr Wilson is therefore calling for a strong and constitutionally powerful Presidency, An All-inclusive Peoples Parliament and a Voice of and for the People.

He said as a way forward MOVE GHANA, a social movement has been formed to canvass for support nationwide against the current system of party politics in favour of a truly nationalistic approach to the governance of the country.

Through this social movement, the concept of ‘The Third Force’ shall be pursued by employing innovative, radical and peaceful political engineering – ultimately to unseat the two major political parties.

Mr Wilson said MOVE GHANA is inviting everybody especially those in the Diaspora to get in touch to offer their help in whatever form to support an auspicious and august cause.

     They could write to: Website:   www.moveghana.org

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

DRC: Clergy urge President Kabila to speak on electoral process

[Africanews/AGENCY] Catholic bishops in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Bukavu region have called on president Joseph Kabila to declare a stand on the ongoing electoral process in the country.

The bishops made the appeal at the end of the ordinary session of the Provincial Assembly of Episcopal held in Kindu (Maniema).

The clergymen urged Kabila to clearly express his position on the violence that has plagued the country as a result of the ongoing electoral process.

They also called on political leaders in the country to desist from the culture of lying to citizens instead of enlightening them on real issues of the national dialogue and the electoral deadlines which are approaching.

Among other recommendations made at the end of the session, were a plea for fair and equitable compensation of employees and civil servants of the State.

The Catholic prelates also called on the Congolese government to effectively implement citizenship and patriotism services for the people.

The Ecclesiastical Province of Bukavu includes the cities of Goma, Butembo, Kasongo, Bukavu and Kindu.