Thursday, July 28, 2016

Zambia: Ballots for August 11 elections to arrive this week

[Peter Clottey] The Electoral Commission of Zambia says printed ballots to be used in the August 11 elections will arrive in Lusaka on Thursday.

ECZ officials said political party representatives would be at the airport in the capital to receive and inspect the ballots before they are transported to polling stations across the country.

The ECZ awarded a contract to the Dubai-based al-Ghurair Printing Company to prepare all ballots to be used for the presidential, legislative and local elections and a referendum. Opposition parties, including the United Party for National Development, said the printing of ballots by a company outside the continent was too expensive and could be used by the government to rig the elections. Until this year, ballots for Zambian elections were printed in South Africa.

Jack Mwiimbu, the UPND’s head of legal affairs, said the decision could undermine the integrity of the elections. He also said the party had documentary proof of some Zambians celebrating after the chairman of the electoral commission, Justice Essau Chulu, officially declared that the Dubai company had won the ballot-printing contract.

Mwiimbu said the UPND strongly doubted that the upcoming polls would be credible. Edith Nawakwi, the leader of another opposition party, the Forum for Democracy and Development, said the ECZ decision on the ballot contract could create tension.

But ECZ officials said the presence of the representatives of the political parties and other stakeholders to monitor the printing in Dubai underscored the election body’s commitment to ensuring transparency and a credible vote.

Reuben Lifuka, former chairman of Transparency International in Zambia, said the ECZ's process had "strengthened the confidence that people have in the manner that the ballot papers have been printed. So, in general, there is a satisfaction that it’s been a transparent process. There are still concerns as to how the papers would be stowed and distributed thereafter. But in terms of its first phase, I think the Electoral Commission of Zambia has managed to bring a sense of transparency in the whole process.”

Lifuka, noting that some Zambians had expressed concern about the cost of printing the ballots in Dubai, said the awarding of the contract went through a bidding process, which is the usual public procurement practice as required in the constitution.

“Generally, the concerns for many Zambians is that we need to develop capacity locally to be able to print ballot papers," Lifuka said, "because in the last couple of elections we’ve opted to print ballot papers outside the country," rather than improve the capability of the Zambian government or local printers to do the work.

Lifuka said Zambians had witnessed the ECZ's efforts to improve the administration of elections.

“The concern has always been where the votes are counted and the delays that accompany the votes," he said. "There has also been concern about the transportation of ballot papers of votes that have been cast from far land areas which cannot be accessed by road but can be accessed by air. And in most cases the Electoral Commission of Zambia has hired the Zambia Air Force. The air force only picked [up] electoral officials and the ballot papers; they will not carry everyone on board, and that has always been a concern, a black spot.

"However, one is also bolstered in confidence about the audit trail that is there when the ballots arrive. People can count the ballot papers that have been received, and they can do so when they have monitors at the polling stations."

VOA news

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Zambia: Opposition parties commend church over peace efforts

[By Chila Namaiko] TWO opposition political parties have praised efforts by the Church to pray for peace and unity in the country, and have promised to firmly deal with their members who engage in violence.

United Party for National Development (UPND) vice-president for politics Canisius Banda, who was among political leaders during the national day of prayers at the Lusaka showground main arena, reaffirmed his party's commitment to upholding peaceful elections.

Dr Banda said the UPND was grateful to the Church for bringing Zambians together at the prayer gathering regardless of political affiliations.

"We are happy that the Church is working hard to unite Zambians and, as a party, we are condemning political violence because we want peace and unity to prevail," Dr Banda said.

He said the party leadership was restraining its cadres from committing any acts of violence and promised to carry out peaceful campaigns ahead of the August 11 general elections.

United National Independence Party (UNIP) deputy secretary general Alfred Banda hailed President Edgar Lungu for being among the political leaders at the prayer gathering.

Reverend Banda said UNIP was dismayed with escalating violence being perpetuated by cadres from different political parties and called for an end to the vice.

He said it would not help any political party to use its members to cause anarchy to amass support ahead of the polls when the country was enjoying peace and unity.

President Lungu on Sunday led Zambians in prayers for peace and unity with an appeal to politicians to bury their differences and campaign within the rule of law as a way of curbing political violence.

Mr Lungu called on all political party leaders to advise their members to restrain themselves from retaliation when they were provoked.

"To all my fellow political leaders, let us remember that Zambia is bigger than any candidate. Therefore, let us respect and operate within the rule of law.

"All of us have a responsibility to maintain our unmatched record as a beacon of peace," the President said.

Source: www.times.co.zm

Zambia prays for peaceful general election

Zambian government held national prayers on July 24, 2016 in the capital Lusaka over escalating electoral violence ahead of the vote on August 11, 2016.

The country’s incumbent leader Edgar Lungu and Independence president Kenneth Kaunda led hundreds of Lusaka residents to the prayers.

Zambia last year called national prayers over its then troubled currency, the Kwacha.

The southern African country of 14.5million people has witnessed a wave of violence before the elections which was blamed on two major contenders, the governing Patriotic Front(PF) and the main opposition United Party for National Development(UPND).

“Let’s all unite and aspire for peace, peace that transcends colour, tribe or political affiliation, “the 59-year-old president told congregants from various churches.

“Zambia is bigger than any of us politicians.”

President Lungu called for tolerance, sobriety and the need to avoid hate speech in campaign messages.

Tensions were high as opposition parties claim they have been treated unfairly by state organs.
An opposition supporter was shot two weeks ago as the party protested Zambia Police decision to cancel their rally.

Clashes between UPND and PF have been frequently reported in the local media.
President Lungu is facing Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND, who is campaigning on the promise of rebuilding the country’s economy.

About 6.4million people are expected to vote and there has been a dispute over the alleged registration of foreigners on the voter’s roll, an allegation the electoral body denies.

Zambia has had relative smooth power transitions.

Source: www.today.ng

Zambia: EC cautioned against recruiting staff away from where they registered as voters

An electoral expert has expressed concern at the emerging trend by the ECZ of recruiting part-time poll staff away from the districts they are registered as voters.

McDonald Chipenzi who is former FODEP Executive Director said there is a risk of disenfranchising the people being recruited something he said would contribute to voter apathy.

“There is need for the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to reconsider the recruitment criterion of part-time poll staff ahead of the General Elections to avoid disenfranchising some of recruits.

“The emerging trend of recruiting individuals as part-time poll staff from other districts to manage polling stations away from the districts where they are registered in has got a disenfranchising effect on many recruits.

“This has the potential to also contribute to voter apathy and to undermining the very democratic process the Commission is supposed to promote and nurture,” he said.

Mr Chipenzi has since called on the Commission to redeploy the poll staff who have been taken away from their districts.

“To this end, the appeal to the Commission is to redeploy those Poll staff to their districts of origin to enable them participate and exercise their political and electoral rights.

“It is also imperative for the Commission to consider putting mechanisms that ensured quality control on the recruited staff to avoid inefficiencies that have a potential to compromise the administration and management of the electoral process,” he said.

-Lusakatimes.com

Monday, July 25, 2016

Zambia: Electoral body receives first batch of ballot papers

The first batch of pallets containing ballot papers for Zambia’s August 11, 2016 general elections has been transported from Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company and handed over to the airport authorities for delivery from Dubai to Lusaka.

The batch contains 155 pallets out of which 63 are for presidential ballot papers and another 63 contain referendum ballots while 25 pallets contain presidential, referendum, national assembly, mayoral and local government posters.

Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company General Manager Lakshmanan Ganapathy said four pallets contain NRC ballot verification forms.

Mr. Ganapathy said the second and last batch of pallets will be transported from his company to the airport tomorrow.

The second batch will contain 185 pallets.

He said airport authorities will screen the pallets and allow a one day cooling process before they are loaded on two cargo planes that will leave Dubai on Thursday, July 28, 2016 and arrive in Lusaka the same day.

Earlier in the day, team Zambia in Dubai was taken round to see the seven trucks laden with pallets awaiting transportation to the airport.

Some stakeholders, the Zambia Police and Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) officials escorted the laden truck to the airport and monitored the offloading process.

On Friday last week, Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) Commissioner, Emily Sikazwe, disclosed that the first cargo plane carrying pallets containing ballot papers will leave Dubai on Thursday, July 28, 2016 at 09:15 hours and arrive in Lusaka at 14:15 hours.

Dr. Sikazwe said the second plane will leave Dubai at 13:25 hours and arrive in Lusaka at 18:25 hours on the same day, of 28 July 2016.

Team Zambia has been in Dubai proofreading ballot paper templates, and monitoring the printing and packaging process of the ballot papers.

- lusakatimes.com

Ghana: Political parties in blame game after parliament rejects Nov 7 election date

Political parties in Ghana are engaged in a blame game after the country’s parliament rejected a constitutional amendment bill that sought to change the date for the country’s general elections.

The west African country has since the start of the fourth republic held its presidential and parliamentary elections on December 7, but challenges with handing over to a new government which assumes office on January 7 among other issues, let to a proposal for the change of the election date to November 7.

A majority vote of 184 was required to pass the bill. Only 125 Members of Parliament voted to change the date to November 7.

Waiting till the dying minutes of an election period and then running a crash programme, it creates an unnecessary suspicion
The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) which said it agreed in principle to a change of date for the general elections, withdrew its support for the bill citing a shortage of time to execute the legal processes required for the change in date.

“Even if you did the amendment, for the presidential date, you need to go with a constitutional instrument. The constitutional instrument must lie in the parliament for twenty-one working days, which means the whole of August” noted the opposition New Patriotic Party’s Communications Director, Nana Akomea.

“Parliament is going to rise on the 29th of July, so getting parliament sit for the whole of August for the CI on the presidential election to pass is a problem that we need to sort out,” Akomea added.

He argued that with all the challenges associated with the process “which have come about largely because of the Electoral Commission’s own inability to act, we don’t think that we should go and constrain ourselves with a date that is one month ahead”.

But the ruling National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) Deputy General Secretary Koku Anyidoho says the opposition NPP sabotaged the bill.

“It was not the Electoral Commission that plant the date change on the political parties, rather, it was the political parties that engaged and convinced the EC, and the EC bought into it” he argued adding that “the NPP has been part of the process” all along.

He noted that when the EC pushed the bill to parliament the NPP was involved in the deliberations of the bill at the subsidiary legislative level.

“It was rather surprising that at the floor of the house, then they chose to ambush the process, and create the impression as if they have never been part of the process,” a move he said had become a “stock in trade” for the opposition.

Smaller political parties in the country are equally divided over the failure of the bill. The National Democratic Party (NDP) led by former First Lady Nana Kondu Agyemang-Rawlings argues that the timing for the change is wrong.

It’s Communications Director Ernest Owusu Bempah insisted that “we are not prepared enough based on our programming, incentives and things that were to be put in place to make sure that we have a successful election”.

Chairman of the People’s National Convention, Bernard Monah however felt the outcome of the vote showed parliament’s lack of independence.

“It is a bit of a worry that our parliament is beginning to lose its sense of independence because if you are elected to parliament, you represent a constituency despite the fact that you may or you might have been elected on the ticket of a political party,” Monah said.

The Convention People’s Party, the country’s oldest surviving political party said it was prepared for a November 7 election and described the outcome as a surprise.

“It came as a surprise to me because we all agreed at a meeting that we were gong to have the election in November and we have all prepared towards that date,” the party’s Chairman Prof. Edmund Delle told Africanews.

“Even if the majority was not in favour once the minority has agreed, for the peace of the country, we just go ahead. It is going to affect our programme though and affect the programmes of the electoral commission because they have put all their plans on November. It also means changing the date and also leading to financial loss and the financial needs of the EC,” Prof. Delle added.

A political scientist with the University of Ghana, Dr. Ransford Gyampo is however unhappy with the parliament’s partisan approach to the amendment bill explaining that the proposal “formed a part of a set of proposals for electoral reforms that were submitted to the Electoral Commission and it received a lot of input and ownership from the political parties across the divide”.

He also chastised the Electoral Commission for delaying the start of the process.

“Waiting till the dying minutes of an election period and then running a crash programme, it creates an unnecessary suspicion that you want to rush people through things and you want to smuggle things through the electoral process in a manner that may not favour some parties.”

The Ghanaian arliament’s rejection of the proposed amendment means that the country’s general elections will go ahead on December 7 as has been the norm and not on November 7 as anticipated.

-Africanews.com

Sao Tome and Principe: Court orders re-run of elections on August 7

 [Africanews/Press Agency] A Sao Tome and Principe court on Sunday ruled that the island nation ‘s presidential election will go to a second round between incumbent Manuel Pinto da Costa and ex-speaker of parliament Evaristo Carvalho.

In the provisional results from elections held last Sunday, Carvalho looked to have won with 50.1 percent of votes, and De Costa coming second with 24.8 percent.

But the supreme court overturned the result, saying the electoral commission should have waited for results from Maria Louise , a town that voted on Wednesday and results from the diaspora.

The run-off is scheduled to take place on August 7.

The small Island nation located in the Gulf of Guinea is a former colony of Portugal and has a semi-presidential system.

The prime minister controls the government while the president act as a figure head with considerable executive power over issues such as security.

Sao Tome and Principe has 19 oil blocks in its exclusive economic zone and an additional joint exploration zone with Nigeria.

Zambia: Bishops urge church to preach peace

[By Passy Haachizo] THE Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) has written to the Catholic Church to preach peace ahead of the general elections.

In a letter read On Sunday during a church service in Kabwe by Lukanga Catholic Parish priest Peter Tembo signed on July, 17, this year by ZCCB president Telesphore George Mpundu and other Catholic Bishops countrywide, they stressed the need to uphold peace before, during and after the August 11, general elections.

The bishops also called on different organisations that were involved in the electoral process to ensure that the election was free from violence.

The bishops called on the media to be impartial and ensure that it reported issues in a Godly manner.

The Church however, expressed dismay that despite the peaceful indaba organised for political party leaders by the Church early this year, violence seems not to have been buried but instead continued to spread at an alarming speed.

The bishops observed that social media and biasness in the manner in which issues were twisted and reported by different professionals and impostors, had left a negative scar in a democratic country like Zambia.

"We need a media which is not polarised. It is also a duty of the Police to be impartial and apply the Public Order Act fairly," the letter reads in part.

The bishops also expressed the need for the Church to understand the referendum so that they could have an informed decision when voting 'Yes' or 'No' to the Bill of Rights.

They preached against allowing apathy, describing it as the weapon that would allow inopportune politicians to carry the day.

The clergymen advised congregants to attend every rally and scrutinise all politicians in the few remaining days and choose God-fearing candidates.

"We now call upon monitors to be transparent and never cause alarm to the nation. For Catholic priests according to Canon 285, never are we as Catholics going to campaign or de-campaign any candidate," the bishops said.

Source: www.times.co.zm

Zambia: Electoral Commission, Police cautioned ahead of polls

Retired veteran politician Vernon Mwaanga has cautioned the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to guard against bringing its competence to manage elections into question

Dr. Mwaanga is urging the ECZ and the Zambia Police not to be seen to be biased towards any particular political party ahead of the elections.

Dr. Mwaanga has advised the ECZ to avoid taking certain actions that would appear to make the playing field for political parties uneven.

He states that the ECZ should keep in mind that what stakeholders want are free, fair and credible elections.

Dr Mwaanga says the commission must strive towards building confidence in all stakeholders involved in the electoral process.

Source: zambiareports.com

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Gambia: Opposition leader jailed for three years

The Gambia's opposition leader Ousainou Darboe and 18 others have been jailed for three years for taking part in an unauthorised demonstration.

In April, they were part of a group protesting about the alleged death in custody of an opposition activist.

Rights group Amnesty International described the sentences as part of the "continuing downward spiral for human rights in Gambia".

President Yahya Jammeh has in the past dismissed criticism of his record.

Political tensions are rising in the country in the run-up to elections in December, says the BBC World Service Africa editor James Copnall.

Mr Darboe and many of his supporters from the United Democratic Party (UDP) took to the streets in Serrekunda, near the capital, Banjul, on 16 April, demanding the release of their colleague Solo Sandeng "dead or alive".

He had been arrested, along with other activists, two days earlier, and it was alleged that he had died in custody after being beaten.

Mr Sandeng has not been seen since and Amnesty International says he was killed.
President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia attends the 44th summit of the 15-nation west African bloc

The judge found that Mr Darboe did not have permission for the demonstration and sentenced him, and the 18 others, on six charges relating to this.

Reports from the court says the convicted activists sang the national anthem after they were sentenced.

In a statement, the UDP called the trial a "farce" and described the verdict as a reflection of "a corrupt and discredited effort to arrest, torture and persecute innocent citizens".

In an interview in May, President Jammeh said it was "common" for people to die in detention or while under interrogation.

He said UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Amnesty International could "go to hell" for asking for an investigation.

Source: BBC

Monday, July 18, 2016

Zambia: EU deploys observation mission August election

In response to an invitation by the Zambian authorities, the European Union has deployed an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to Zambia to observe the Presidential, Parliamentary, Mayoral and Council Chairpersons, and Local Government elections which are scheduled for 11 August. This is the fourth time that the European Union is observing elections in Zambia (previously in 2001, 2006 and 2011), which reflects the EU's long-term commitment to supporting credible, transparent and inclusive elections in the country.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, appointed as Chief Observer Cecile Kashetu Kyenge, Member of the European Parliament.

The High Representative stated: "The upcoming elections are expected to be one of the most competitive in the country's history and can further consolidate Zambia's track record for well-run elections. I trust that these forthcoming elections will be transparent and peaceful, with all sides refraining from actions and statements that may incite violence. Of course, all parties should abide by the law and resolve any election dispute through dialogue and available legal remedies. Under the leadership of Chief Observer Kyenge, I am confident that the EU EOM will make an important contribution to this electoral process".

The Chief Observer, Kyenge, declared: "I am honoured to lead the EU EOM to Zambia. The forthcoming general elections will be a key moment in the country's development, and I trust they will set an example of democratic consolidation."

The EOM Core Team of seven EU election analysts arrived in Zambia on 29 June and will stay in the country until the completion of the elections, to prepare a comprehensive analysis of the electoral process. On 11 July the Core Team was joined by 24 long-term observers, and later, on 5 August by additional 56 short-term observers who will be deployed across the country. Also a delegation of the European Parliament and Zambia-based diplomats from EU Member States will reinforce the mission on election day. The EU EOM stands ready to cooperate with other international observation missions.

At the request of the Zambian authorities, the deployment of an EU EOM aims to contribute at enhancing the transparency of the process, the respect for fundamental freedoms and emphasises the importance of further follow up to EOM recommendations. The EU supports African efforts to reinforce the democratisation process across the continent. Since 2000, more than 70 election observation missions have been deployed by the EU in Africa.

Source: eeas.europa.eu

Zambia: Election process is almost impossible to rig - Former commissioner

ALLEGATIONS of rigging elections against Minister of Local Government Stephen Kampyongo and his permanent secretary Amos Malupenga are being made by individuals whose motive is to cause anarchy in the country, Laiven Apuleni has charged.

Mr Apuleni, who is former Choma district commissioner, said that individuals who made such allegations were either ignorant of how elections were conducted or had a motive to cause anarchy in the country.

He said that it was surprising that people who wanted to manipulate the August 11 elections had, in fact, lost the 2015 presidential election and had started scheming on how to win the forthcoming elections fraudulently.

“It is, therefore, surprising that the very people that did everything to ensure that the outcome of the August 11 elections is manipulated are the ones crying foul. In the case of Zambia, I do know for a fact that those with intentions to rig elections started the process soon after losing elections in 2015 but they failed to attain the targeted figures, “Mr Apuleni said

Mr Apuleni said the electoral process in Zambia was one of the best in Africa, stating that rigging an election during the process of voting was almost impossible.

“All those making these allegations are either ignorant of how elections are conducted in Zambia or are individuals whose motive is to create anarchy in this country. It is a fact that our electoral process is one the best in Africa to an extent that rigging the outcome of an election during the process of voting is almost impossible,’’ Mr Apuleni said.

Mr Apuleni has challenged individuals and The Post Newspaper to come up with facts instead of misleading the nation with innuendos.

“The allegations as expressed by some leaders and some sections of the media are nothing but speculations and I challenge anyone who claims so to come up with facts,’’ he said.

He said that the mere transfers of Town Clerks and Council Secretaries could not translate into maneuvers to manipulate the outcome of the of elections unless one was very ignorant of how elections were conducted.

He said that the ministry of Local Government and Housing was within its mandate to make any transfers of officers whenever it deemed fit.

Source: lusakatimes online

Zambia: Clergy urges political parties to tone down on confrontational rhetoric

THE CATHOLIC Bishops have urged all the politicians across the political divide to make every effort in ensuring an effective way of cadre management and to immediately tone down their confrontational rhetoric.

In a pastoral letter issued by Zambia Conference Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) and read by Kasama Diocese Archbishop Ignatius Chama at the 125 years of Catholicism in Zambia held at St Annes Cathedral Parish,the prelates said Zambians were expecting the politicians to focus on key governance and developmental issues that would help the electorate to make informed decisions.

“Democracy requires in the first place that all citizens exercise their right to vote in a free and peaceful environments.Much as we are proudly acclaimed for being a peaceful country,we should never talk things for granted,”the bishops demanded.

They stated that given the increasing incidents of politically motivated violence and continued tension between members of the political parties,the record of being peaceful was increasingly being threatened.

They stated that bishops were afraid that if the current spate of violence was not cured may have a serious impact on the voter turnout as many eligible voters might fear going to vote due to security concerns.

“As we have often noted,the free will of the people in the hallmark of the any credible election.We must therefore pay particular attention to key aspects that can enhance or reduce and even negate the credibility of the forthcoming elections.Some of the key conditions for any elections to be peaceful,credible and transparent include peaceful atmosphere,”the bishops said.

They stated that it was the duty of the police to protect life and property and also maintain law and order in the country.

The bishops called upon the Zambia Police Service to perform their duties of maintaining law and order professionally and effectively without undue pressure from partisan influence.

They indicated that the police must be impartial in applying the law fairly to anyone who breaks the laws of the country.

They called on the police to implement the public order act in the most appropriate manner by ensuring that they do not exercise any inconsistencies or biases when dealing with different groups of peaople for any alleged offences or when political parties have provided notices for holding of their public meetings and political rallies.

The bishops further called on the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) not to be seen to be an institution that was being manipulated to suit the interest of one group or political party.

They said ECZ commissioners and staffs must remain resolute and professionally conduct their business in providing the neccesary mechanisms in the electoral process that would guarantee free and fair elections.

The bishops said the ECZ officers must remember that the Lod demands fairness in every business deal in which He sets the standarda according to Proverbs 16 versus 11.

“The ECZ is the legally constituted body mandated to manage our elections in such a manner that the right of the people to choose their leaders is unfettered.Given the many pressures exerted on the ECZ by various interest groups during election,there is need for high levels of integrity by the ECZ officers,”the bishops said.

On the media,the bishops said the role of the media in the electoral process cannot be over emphasised because it had the duty to cover all players in the electoral process.

They indicated that all players in the electoral process need access to mass media to propagate their agendas and programmes in a more efficient way.

The bishops said an impartial media that would treat every player equally was cardinal and urged the both the public and private media to adhere to the principle and ethics of fairness as well as truthful.

They urged the public media to be professional to ensure full and fair coverage of all political parties .

The bishops also called on the responsible use and reception of social media stating that all the consumers of the media outlets to be critical of the messages they receive from various media because it was not everything that they read,hear or watch to contain the truth especially the information they get from the social media.

The bishops also said the Catholic Church does not and would not support or prop up a particular political party or candidate.

They stated that chosing was the free cthoice its leaves to the flocks charging that the church embracew members from diverse political persuasions and jealously protects their freedom of association.

They said based on the Christian principles,the Church could provide some guidance that could help its members make informed choices among the many candidates and political parties that present themselves for election.

“Drawing from the social teaching of the church,the qualities that candidates for political office should have professional competence on political,economic and social programmes,courage to speak out the truth,concern for social justice,desire to work for the common good instead of self enrichment,disposition to use power for service especially service of the poor and under privileged,openess to dialogue,good moral standing,transparency and accountability to the electorate,”the bishops said.

They stated tgat all Christians have a moral responsbility to vote for candidates who follow the example of Jesus who came not to be served but to serve and who emptied himself for the good of all.

The bishops said Christians should not vote for candidates who were arrognant with a propensity to use violence,people with questionable moral standings,those with proven record of corruption and abuse of power and public resourcee and those who put narrow sectarian or ethnic interest before national interest and the common good.

They appealed to the Catholic priests to remain non partisan stating that it was morally wrong for the Catholic priests to use the pulpit to campaign for or decampaign any political party or parties.

The bishops said the Catholic politicians must celebrate mass without being given platform to speak during liturgical celebrations.

On referendum,the bishops said there was imperative that more effort was made by both the Government and Non Governmental Organisations actors including the church to educate the people on the forthcoming elections and counsel them to vote wisely without coercing them to vote either yes or no.

They statee that little has been done by concerned Government bodies to popularise the new and expanded draft on the Bill of Rights.

The bishops called on all Zambians who have registered as voters to turn up and cast their votes during the voting day.

They said voting was not only a right but also a duty to the country to help identify and put in place credible people who would make the state function in promotion of the common good.

They appealed to Zambians never to get tired of voting as apathy would only give greater chance to opportunists to carry the day.

They stated that voting was one of the fundamental rights and duties of every citizen and appealed to all Zambians not to be cheated and bribed during the elections.

Source: lusakatimes.com

Sao Tome and Principe: Former PM beats President to win election

[Africanews with AFP] The ruling party candidate and former prime minister Evaristo Carvalho has won the first round of the presidential election in Sao Tome and Principe held on Sunday with 50.1% of the vote against the incumbent President Manuel Pinto da Costa.

The National Electoral Commission announced the results early Monday morning with Carvalho, the candidate supported by the party of Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada, getting 34,629 votes (50.1%), President Manuel Pinto da Costa getting 17,121 votes (24.8%) and the third candidate Maria das Neves getting 16,638 votes (24.8%).

In total, 111,222 voters, in the second-smallest African country after Seychelles, went to the polls, and the turnout was over 60%, according to the electoral commission.

This victory means the Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada will govern with a president of his party, the Independent Democratic Action (ADI), which won the parliamentary elections in 2014.

“We want to start a new phase of stability, work and progress for the people of Sao Tome,” the prime minister and son of former president Miguel Trovoada said after the announcement.

The elections were held peacefully according to the 25 African Union observers led by the former President of Mozambique, Armando Guebuza.

The vote marks probably the end of the political career of outgoing 78-year-old President Manuel Pinto da Costa who was hoping to secure another five-year-term.

Manuel Pinto da Costa, the first president of the country for 15 years after independence in 1975. He was again elected in 2011 by a run-off with 52% of the votes against this year’s winner and parliamentary speaker at the time, Evaristo Carvalho.

The government and the next president will face the challenge of development in the country which has 195,000 inhabitants of which two thirds are under the poverty line and 90% dependent on international aid.

AU chairperson election postponed, majority votes not attained

The African Union Commission has postponed to January the election of a new chairperson who will take over from the Dlamini-Zuma led administration.

This was as a result of the non-attainment of the two-thirds majority by all the three candidates fielded for the position.

There are three candidates vying for the position of African Union chairperson: Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, former Ugandan vice president, Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, Botswana Foreign Minister, and Agapito Mba Mokuy, Equatorial Guinea Foreign Minister.

During the first round of the election, the Botswana candidate got 16 votes, Equatorial Guinea, 12 votes, and Uganda’s candidate got 11 votes, reports indicate.

The spokesperson for the current chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has hinted via Twitter that the election has been postponed till the next summit in January.

The Commission has not yet issued a statement on the postponement but sources at the Kigali Convention Centre say the ECOWAS bloc that petitioned for the postponement of the election did not participate therefore reducing the number of votes to meet the majority.

A few days to the election, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was reported to have called for the postponement of the exercise on the grounds that none of the candidates was qualified enough for the position.

Contrary to their petition, the commission proceeded in preparation for the election and member states went through the process.

“Stop speculating. There is no ECOWAS concern that has made an election to be postponed. Elections are going forward tomorrow. No more names are entering the list, while the elections are going on tomorrow. If somehow we are not able to obtain the necessary majority then the rules will kick in and you will be advised as to the outcome,” AU legal counsel, Vincent O Nmehielle told the VOA on Sunday.

According to the African Union rules, the winner for the chairperson position must obtain two thirds of member states’ votes and if no one wins, a second round will be held between the first and second candidates with the highest votes.

The only time there will be a suspension of the election is when no one obtains a two-third of the majority and then another vote will be scheduled.

The South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has been the AU chairperson since 2012 and did not apply for a second term.

The postponement therefore means that the mandate of the outgoing administration will be extended for another six months.

Africanews

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ghana: Parliament holds forum on new election date today

The parliamentary select committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is expected to hold a public forum today, Monday July 11, on the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2016.

The public forum will enable the major stakeholders and general public to make presentations on the Bill, which is meant to change the date of voting from December 7 to November 7.

The bill is to pave way for the elections to be held on the first Monday in November of every election year.

Director of Public Affairs of parliament, Kate Addo, speaking to Class News, explained that the public forum will help come out with solutions that will best enhance Ghana’s democratic processes.

“Basically, what this public forum is about is for the committee to engage the general public, to collate their views on what their thoughts are, regarding the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2016 that is currently before parliament, which seeks to change the election date from December 7 to November 7, or, at least, first Monday of November every election year. Basically, it is to collate the views of the general public, interact with members of civil society and come out with solutions that will best enhance our democratic processes in terms of elections”, she stated.

Source: Ghana/ClassFMonline.com/91.3FM

Zambia: Electoral commission suspends campaigning in capital after death of opposition supporter

Police opened fire on the opposition United Party for National Development supporters after the party refused to cancel a campaign meeting in Lusaka.

Political campaigning in Zambia’s capital Lusaka has been suspended for 10 days because of violent clashes ahead of next month’s national elections, the electoral commission said.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) announced on Sunday that it was suspending campaigns in Lusaka and Namwala, south of the capital, until July 18 when the situation would be reviewed.

“The electoral commission of Zambia has observed with dismay the rise in political violence in some districts which has regrettably resulted in injury, loss of life and property,” commission spokesman Cris Akufuna said in a statement.

No public rallies, meetings, processions or door-to-door campaigning will be allowed, Akufuna said.

The run-up to the election has been marred by skirmishes between supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) of President Edgar Lungu and the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) led by Hakainde Hichilema.

On Friday, police opened fire on UPND supporters, killing one, after the party refused to cancel a campaign meeting in Lusaka’s Chawama area.

The ECZ said all vehicles carrying political party campaign messages in the two areas should be parked.

“Campaigns shall be restricted to electronic and print media publicity and hate speech will not be entertained,” it said.

The ECZ had received reports of political violence in three other towns in southern Zambia and warned that it would halt campaigning there if violence persisted.

“The commission appeals to all political party leaders to counsel and control their cadres in the interest of making peace in our country,” the ECZ said in a statement.

The ECZ on June 19 threatened to bar campaigning due to growing cases of violence, after clashes between supporters of the ruling PF party and its main opposition, UPND.

The ban on campaigning comes less than three weeks after Zambia’s biggest independent newspaper, The Post, was shut down by the authorities over a tax dispute — a move seen as an attempt to silence it before the August 11 vote.

President Edgar Lungu has been in power for just over a year after winning a ballot triggered by the death of his predecessor, Michael Sata. Lungu faces a strong challenge from UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.

- Al Jazeera

Ghana: Manifestos must plan for persons with disability – NGO

Voice of People with Disability Ghana (VOICE GHANA), a disability rights and advocacy organization is calling on political parties to draft an all-inclusive development plans and manifestos to address the challenges of persons with disabilities.

In an interview with Citi News, the Director of the organization, Francis Asong said although Ghana subscribes to disability policies and legislative framework including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Mental Health Act of 2012 and the recent Inclusive Education Policy, Persons With Disabilities (PWD’s) it is yet to fully benefit from such programs.

Ahead of the general elections Mr Francis Asong is calling on all political parties to focus their campaign messages on PWD’s and outline strategic interventions in supporting them to fully benefit from provisions of public goods and services.

“What we asking politicians to do to really focus on social inclusive issues. You know we have gotten to a country that we need to be thinking of everybody where persons with disability should also be a focus” he said.

– Source: King Norbert Akpablie/citifmonline.com/Ghana

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Ghana: Electoral body to adopt modalities to delete 56,739 voters from roll

The Electoral Commission has decided to come up with modalities and a date to comply with the Supreme court order to delete the over 56.000 names it submitted to the court as the list of National Health Insurance Scheme registrants on the electoral roll.

The Head of Communication at the EC, Eric Dzakpasu, told the Daily Graphic the EC will also take steps to delete other names of persons who registered with NHIS cards but who were not immediately known to the Commission.

He said the modalities and a date to comply with the court order would have to be discussed with other stakeholders in the electoral process.

He said the modalities and a date to comply with the Supreme Court order would have to be discussed with other stakeholders in the electoral process.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court, on July 5, ordered the EC to take all the necessary steps to delete the list of NHIS registrants it submitted to the court and other names of persons who registered with NHIS cards but which were not included in the list it presented to the court.

The court was presided over by the Chief Justice, Mrs. Justice Georgina Theodora Wood. The other members of the five member panel were Mr Justice A. A. Bening, Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie and Mr Justice Anim Yeboah.

- Daily Graphic | Ghana

Ghana: Supreme Court orders EC to delete names of 56,739 from voters roll

The Supreme Court has directed the Electoral Commission to take immediate steps to remove persons who registered with National Health Insurance Authority cards from the voters’ register.

The five-member panel chaired by the Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood, in a unanimous decision on Tuesday added that the EC must give adequate notice to persons to be affected and give them the opportunity to re-register ahead of the November 7 general elections.

The Supreme Court, however, added that the challenge by the plaintiffs of the accuracy and credibility of EC's list should constitute a whole new application as the current application before them is to clarify its 5th May judgment.

Background

The apex court on May 5 2016, asked the Electoral Commission to expunge from the current voters’ register the names of all persons who registered and voted in the 2012 elections, with the NHIS card as a proof of identity.

The ruling followed a suit filed by former National Youth Organizer of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Abu Ramadan, and one, Evans Nimako, who in 2014 won a lawsuit that barred the use of NHIS cards for registration of potential voters.

The two, among other reliefs, wanted the current register declared inappropriate for the November polls.

But the EC after studying the ruling said it’s understanding did not suggest the use of any new process to delete the names of those who registered with NHIS cards, since there are already laid down procedures for expunging ineligible names.

The EC’s explanation, however, angered Mr. Ramadan who felt the Commission was disrespecting the explicit orders of the court.

He subsequently got the Supreme Court to issue the six-day ultimatum to the Commission.

The Electoral Commission last Thursday presented a list of NHIS registrants to the court but Ramadan, rejected the list describing it as “spurious.”

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

Monday, July 4, 2016

Togo: Parliamentarians seek constitutional reforms

[Elvis Boh] Togolese opposition Members of Parliament are pushing for a review of the country’s constitution.

MPs from the Alliance for Change and the Democratic Alliance for Integral Development on Wednesday, pushed through a bill at the National Assembly aimed at modifying about ten articles of the constitution.

They are among others, seeking a presidential term limit which will allow the president to be re-elected only once upon assumption of office.

The current constitution imposes no such limits.

The MPs have also proposed that Members of the Constitutional Court be nominated by parliament.

A similar bill had been rejected two years ago.

Togo’s National episcopal Conference has called on the government and the opposition to respect their engagements.

The government had in 2006 concluded a deal with the opposition on political reforms following the highly contested elections.

The two sides have however been unable to agree on several points.

Whereas some civil society organisations have called for a fresh dialogue, some MPs from the ruling party say the 2006 political deal has become obsolete.

Togolese president Faure GnassingbĂ© was re-elected for a third term in April last year extending his family’s 48-year hold on power.

News Agencies

Zambia: Rruling party owes closed newspaper for political ads

A Zambian lawmaker, Miles Sampa has alleged that the ruling Patritic Front (PF) party, owes The Post newspaper millions of kwacha in political advertisements debts since 2006.

Sampa made the disclosure whiles addressing journalists at the opposition United Party for National Development’s secretariat, he wondered why the PF government was using ZRA (Zambia Revenue Authority) to harass The Post over disputed tax, even though high ranking officials know of their indebtedness to the newspaper.

“I know the sacrifice that The Post and Fred M’membe went through to help us reach out to the voters. I was the agent between president Sata and The Post, sometimes we would take adverts there worth a lot of money and we have not paid since 2006,” Sampa said.

I was the agent between president Sata and The Post, sometimes we would take adverts there worth a lot of money and we have not paid since 2006.

“Everybody in the PF now, they were not there when we were managing the party with president Sata, they do not know that without The Post, president Sata would never have become a president, they do not know that without The Post, the PF would not have won the elections in 2011,’‘ added.

According to him, The Post stood by the former leader of the party, the late Michael Sata, at a time when others like the Daily Mail, Times of Zambia, the Zambia National Broadcaster were not covering the PF’s activities in 2011, even when they had paid them.

Government sanctioned closure of The Post

Officials of the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), according to the Post, under instructions from State House and accompanied by security officers went to the offices of the newspaper demanding disputed tax arrears of about Sh 68 million ($6.1 million)

Local media reports that despite explanations by the paper’s head of finance that the said amounts had been settled, a ZRA officer responded that they had not received it hence the need to enforce the distress warrant.

The campaign offices of the opposition UDNP was also raided over the weekend with the government apparatus citing the presence of offensive weapons, they reportedly destroyed materials and arrested 7 people.

The Upcoming August polls

President Edgar Lungu heads into the August polls with nine other contenders, even though the race is seen to be fought between the incumbent and the main opposition’s Hakainde Hichilema who came in second in the last elections.

Lungu who has been in power for a year is seeking to rule the Southern African country for the next five years. 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 between supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front and the main opposition United Party for National Development.

Burkinabe Faso: Opposition threatens to boycott constitution review

Africanews.com with AFP] Burkina Faso opposition has threatened to boycott the country’s constitutional review after questioning the framework that will be used in drafting the new laws.

The opposition have questioned the urgency to draft a new constitution at a time when the country is facing difficult economic stability.

They further rejected a team of 92 legislators elected by the president to oversee constitutional reforms.

If consensus is not required in the making of decisions of the Commission
“We dispute the decree of the President of Burkina Faso putting in place the Constitutional Commission which violates the law in our country, “ said Victorien Tougouma, President of the African Movement of the peoples (MAP) and also one of the opposition spokespersons.

“If consensus is not required in the making of decisions of the Commission, the opposition will quit,” warned Mr Tougouma,

Burkina Faso’s former President, Blaise Compaore had tried to change the constitution in 2013 to extend his mandate but an insurgency in the country over ran his ambition leading to his exile in Ivory Coast.

The Burkinabe opposition are now demanding the adoption of the draft Constitution to be agreed by consensus to avoid any democratic backslide.

DRC: Dutch firm to help compile biometric register for elections

The Democratic Republic of Congo has taken bold steps towards an election expected to take place later this year. The DRC has contracted a Dutch outfit to help the electoral body compile a biometric register and to conduct the elections.

Gemalto, a world leader in the area of digital security is to help the Independent Electoral Commission of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENI) with 22,000 mobile biometric voter enrollment kits.

According to Corneille Nangaa, President of CENI, “We needed a reliable partner to facilitate our ambitious program, which we expect will enroll up to 45 million voters,”

With a wealth of experience in enrollment and vo   ter registry applications in Africa and beyond, Gemalto offered an excellent technical fit, and the ability to react quickly to our requirements.
“With a wealth of experience in enrollment and voter registry applications in Africa and beyond, Gemalto offered an excellent technical fit, and the ability to react quickly to our requirements,” he added.

The kits are to support over 18,000 enrollment centers to capture a detailed and updated national voter register through the acquisition of photographs, fingerprints and signatures of citizens as well as issue them personalized voter cards for the upcoming polls.

Gemalto is also expected to train the operators for CENI and also provide maintenance and support during the entire registration project, touted as one of the largest in Africa.

“Our secure mobile enrollment solution will enable CENI to establish a reliable and respected voter registry, based on indisputable biometric data, and provide all the flexibility required to set up voter registration bureau all across the country” said Frederic Trojani, Executive Vice President for Government Programs at Gemalto.

“Above all else, it provides the Democratic Republic of Congo with a trusted foundation towards free, fair and transparent elections.”

Uncertainty about November polls

For months, the political climate is tense in the DRC because of the uncertainty of highly probable postponement of presidential elections due to take place in late November.

The opposition accuses President Joseph Kabila who has been in power since 2001 of maneuvering to stay in power beyond his term in December even though the Constitution does not allow him to stay on.

A court had ruled that if the country fails to organize elections later this year, the incumbent Joseph Kabila could stay on as President. Even though he has yet to make known any ambitions to run for an ‘unconstitutional’ third term, there has been pressure from home and abroad calling on him to step down at the end of his tenure.

Africanews.com