Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Rwanda: Electoral body to spend $1.8M less in 2017 presidential poll

Rwanda’s 2017 Presidential elections will cost less than the previous election held in 2010, the country’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) has said.

NEC Executive Secretary Charles Munyaneza said the country has set aside $6.9 million for the elections which will be held in August next year, that’s $1.8 million less than what was used in 2010.

“Next year presidential elections budget has reduced because we are catering for a few voting materials compared to 2010 presidential polls when we had to spend money on almost everything which pushed the budget to 8.7 million U.S. dollars,” he noted.

According to the NEC, the government will fund at least 95 percent of the budget and the rest will come from development partners.

About 6.6 million Rwandans are currently registered as voters, an increase of 1.4 million from 2010 presidential elections. Voter registers will be updated in November and May 2017 while a final register will be issued in July 2017.


Gabon: UN Boss engages Ping and Bongo, security raised amid poll result delay

Gabonese woke up on Wednesday, three days after voting on Saturday, without knowing who had won the presidential elections of August 27. High security presence has been deployed amid the tension in the country.

The Interior Minister who is expected to announce the official results announced a postponement on Tuesday night but had yet to release the results as at Wednesday morning.

Delegates from Bongo and Ping’s camps stayed up all night at the headquarters of the electoral commission, which centralizes the minutes of elections and was expected to deliver the results.

UN Chief speaks to Bongo and Ping

The Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) Ban Ki-moon spoke to the main contenders via phone on Tuesday tasking them to calm their supporters and to exercise restraint in the approach of the announcement of results.

Both the incumbent Ali Bongo and former African Union (AU) commission chairperson Jean Ping have both claimed victory in the polls. But the UN in a statement warned against “premature statements on the outcome of elections.”

Ban further urged the two candidates “to resolve any grievance after the announcement of results by existing legal means, following a transparent and democratic process.” He reaffirmed that his Special Representative for Central Africa Abdoulaye Bathily remained ready to “help defuse tensions.”

Security raised

In central Libreville, police and military presence remains important, despite the lifting of roadblocks that had been mounted around the presidential residence, the AFP reports.

Locals who wish to get to the town are seen making their journeys via foot as they fail to find taxis. Some shops are opened but business people remain cautious as the country continues to wait for the results.

The country descended into chaos following the victory of Ali Bongo in 2009, the hardest hit region being the economic capital Port-Gentil, where deaths and looting was reported as well as an attack on the Consulate of France.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

DR Congo: Stakeholders sign road map to political dialogue

The road map to political dialogue in the Democratic Republic of Congo is seemingly more clear after representatives drawn from government, the oppostion and civil society signed the final document that defines the objectives and framework of the all inclusive talks.

The talks are aimed to avoid political chaos in the country after President Joseph Kabila’s term expires in December this year.

Already, there are political tensions in the country and the talks brokered by African Union (AU) facilitator Edem Kodjo, are viewed as the bridge the that will allow the first democratic transition in DRC.

However, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, Jean Pierre Bemba’s party has shunned the talks.

The all inclusive dialogue is expected to be held from September 1- 14.

News Agencies

As Gabon awaits poll result: France urges citizens to be security conscious

Ahead of the official declaration of results in closely contested presidential elections in Gabon, with both leading candidates claiming victory, France has issued a caution to citizens living in Gabon to be security conscious.

The Embassy of France recommended that French nationals in Gabon should “avoid traveling unless very necessary and to keep abreast of the situation.” Gabon is currently in a tense mood two days after voting and with about 24 hours to the official declaration of polls.

Incumbent and main opponent declare victory

The first to declare himself victor was Jean Ping, the 73-year-old former African Union (AU) chairperson. Ping said in his first interview after Saturday’s polls that he expected Bongo to call and congratulate him for his victory.

“I’m the one. I expect that the outgoing president will call me to congratulate me,” he told supporters before adding a tweet later in the day, “This Sunday starts with rains of blessing in Libreville which is like announcing a new era in Gabon,” he Tweeted in French.

Meanwhile, incumbent Ali Bongo, who came to power in 2009 after the death of his father Omar Bongo is confident that the rule of the Bongo family is set to continue with a victory in the polls.

“We are confidently waiting and I want to say big thank you to every one be confident great things await us,” Ali Bongo told a jubilant crowd.

Bongo’s camp also denounced the ‘illegal’ victory declaration by Ping stating that they will stick to the law and allow the independent electoral commission (CENAP) to do its mandated duty of declaring official results.

“Self-proclaimed Mr. Ping is serious and dangerous”, a statement from Ali Bongo’s camp condemned.

“We are legalistic and are republicans so we confidently expect the CENAP to announce the results of the election,” Ali Bongo told supporters in his first speech since taking the vote.

The Interior Minister Pacome Moubelet-Boubeya confirmed that the certified true results of the August 27 polls will be officially announced by the electoral commission “this Tuesday, August 30 around 17:00” (1600 GMT).


Zambia: Court to rule on transfer of presidential powers as election petition starts

The petition challenging the election of Edgar Lungu as president-elect in Zambia’s August 11 polls kicked off on Monday, August 29.

Two crucial issues were raised on the first day of the hearing. The first related to the transfer of power by the incumbent Lungu to the speaker of parliament and the other had to do with the custody of election materials as the case is being heard.

The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) served notice that it will give a ruling on the transfer of presidential powers to the speaker tomorrow afternoon. It also slated Wednesday to deliver a ruling regarding the custody of electoral materials.

The main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) filed an application praying the Constitutional Court to take custody of election materials to avoid tampering by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).

The UPND led by Hakainde Hichilema filed a court action to challenge Edgar Lungu’s re-election, alleging the poll was rigged with the connivance of the ruling party and the ECZ.

The ECZ declared Lungu winner of the polls with 50.35% and insists that Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF) party defeated the UPND’s Hichilema fairly and squarely.

The ConCourt has the final jurisdiction to hear and determine matters in respect of interpretation of any provision of the constitution, hence dissatisfied parties cannot appeal to any other court after its ruling.

The case is before Justice Hilda Chibomba and is expected to be decided within 14 days.

The swearing in of president Lungu scheduled for last Tuesday was suspended following the filing of the petition. Opposition members who took to the streets in the south of the country were arrested by police for violent acts as they protested the results.

President Edgar Lungu stood against nine other contenders, even though the race was largely fought between him and the main opposition’s Hichilema who came in second in the last elections.

The 59-year-old leader has been in power for a year and had gotten his first full mandate to rule the Southern African country. He became president after winning a ballot triggered by the death of his predecessor, Michael Sata, in October 2014.


Monday, August 29, 2016

Gabon: Presidential election 'lacked transparency' - EU observer mission

According to the European Union Election Observer Mission (EU EOM) in Gabon, the electoral process in the country’s August 27 presidential polls “lacked transparency.”

The EU mission headed by Bulgarian Euro-MP Mariya Gabriel however congratulated the people for exercising their democratic right in casting their votes. Mariya was addressing a press conference as part of the mission’s preliminary statement on the polls in the capital Libreville.

“I congratulate the Gabonese voters who expressed their democratic will in a process in which management lacked transparency,” she said in a press release.

She enumerated reasons for the EU EOM’s verdict as follows: ‘‘The most significant shortcomings observed are: the absence of voter lists posted outside the polling stations, failures in control of indelible ink, authentication of ballots and the use of sealed ballot boxes that lacked identification numbers.’‘

For his part, Jo Leinen, chairman of the European Parliament delegation that joined the Mission for the elections, added that: “Given the level of mistrust and division that marked this campaign, it is urgent to establish the foundations for a true political dialogue in the interest of all the Gabonese people.”

The EU EOM comprised 73 observers from the European Union (EU) who delivered their preliminary report on the eve of the proclamation of the official results of the presidential election.

Whiles Gabonese await the official announcement of results by the electoral body (CENAP), main candidates in the race are claiming victory. Incumbent Ali Bongo Ondimba told cheering supporters that he was on course for victory.

Former Africa Union Commission (AUC) chairperson, Jean Ping was however the first to declare himself victor on Sunday in an address to his supporters in Libreville before tweeting to that effect.

The Interior Minister Pacome Moubelet-Boubeya confirmed that the certified true results of the August 27 polls will be officially announced by the electoral commission “this Tuesday, August 30 around 17:00” (1600 GMT).


Ghana: Electoral body to exhibit voter roll in Sept

The Electoral Commission (EC) has said it is set to begin exhibiting the 2016 register of voters in September after registering eligible voters in the just-ended continuous voter registration exercise.

The EC has described the two-day continuous registration exercise as successful. It offered first-time voters the opportunity to get captured onto the poll roll.

Deputy Head of Communications at the EC Alhassan Yusif Ayuba, speaking to Class News, said the commission can now go ahead to exhibit the register after completing both limited and continuous registration exercises as well as deleting names of persons who registered with National Health Insurance Scheme cards in compliance with an order from the Supreme Court.

The exhibition is expected to commence in early September.

“Come early September, we will exhibit the register for all persons who registered under the continuous registration and also persons whose names we deleted because of the Supreme Court order. …We will exhibit those registers at the various polling stations where they registered for them to go back and check the correctness of their details,” Mr Ayuba stated.

Source: Ghana/

Ghana: Ruling party objects to lawyers and accountants as electoral officers

The Director of Elections of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, has revealed the party is uncomfortable with the Electoral Commission’s decision to engage the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAG) as presiding officers in the forthcoming elections.

Charlotte Osei, the chairperson of the Commission last week Tuesday, announced that the Commission will employ the services of members of the GBA and ICAG at the Constituency Collation Centers in the December 7 elections.

This, however, did not go down well with Mr. Ampofo, arguing that the EC boasts of experienced officers than the professionals it [commission] hopes to engage.

Speaking on TV3’s Eye on the Seat on Sunday, Mr Ampofo, who could not hide his objection to the EC’s decision, said the two bodies, especially GBA are politicised and that their members cannot be allowed to take part in the collation process.

He thus pledged to raise his party’s objections to the move at the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting, saying “We believe that there are lawyers who are neutral and there are those who have identified themselves with political parties.”

Eric Dzakpasu, the commission’s Director of Communications speaking on the same programme, however, noted other competences beyond academic qualification will be looked at.

“So the basic requirement for you to become a Presiding Officer is to have a degree or a senior officer of the Ghana Education Service (GES),” Dzakpasu’s deputy, Yusif Alhassan Ayuba had said on Wednesday 24 August, 2016.

Source: Ghana/ Awal

Gabon: Ex-AU chief declares himself winner of presidential election

Gabonese main opposition candidate Jean Ping has declared himself winner of the 2016 presidential election ahead of the official declaration expected to be made by the electoral commission on Tuesday.

The former chairman of the African Union Commission addressed the media and his supporters on Sunday in Libreville saying that he has won Saturday’s polls despite the caution issued by the country’s interior ministry on Saturday night against declarations.

“I am the one. I expect the outgoing president to call me to congratulate me,” he said in his first public speech after the polls.

I am the one. I expect the outgoing president to call me to congratulate me.
“As I speak to you, the trends indicate we are the winner of this important presidential election. You have thwarted the plans of fraud that we have finally kicked out,” he told a crowd of supporters gathered at his campaign headquarters in the capital Libreville.
The Minister of Interior, Pachomius Moubelet, announced before Jean Ping’s declaration that the results will be declared by the Autonomous and Permanent National Electoral Commission (CENAP) on Tuesday, August 30 at 1600 GMT.

“It is illegal to proclaim results as the mandate only rests with the CENAP so allow them to do their work,” the minister warned.

73-year-old Jean Ping hinted early Sunday morning via social media of a possible victory. “This Sunday starts with rains of blessing in Libreville which is like announcing a new era in Gabon,” he Tweeted in French.

The camp of the incumbent president Ali Bongo Ondimba has also declared victory, AFP reports.

- Africanews/AFP

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ghana: US supports 2016 elections with more than $5.7m

US Ambassador Robert Porter Jackson has reiterated the United States’ commitment to support Ghana’s efforts to hold credible and nonviolent 2016 Presidential elections.

Ambassador Jackson made the pledge at an event celebrating the launch of the Electoral Commission’s new communications strategy on Friday, August 26.

The strategy, supported by the U.S. government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), increases the transparency and effectiveness of the Electoral Commission.

Strategy tools include training journalists and polling officials, using social media, and developing a new SMS election platform.

“I would like to take this opportunity to emphasize the United States’ support for fair, free, and peaceful elections in Ghana,” said Ambassador Jackson at the event.

“We are working toward these goals with a wide range of partners.”

Other activities the U.S. government is supporting to promote these goals are: Enhancing the transparency and credibility of the Electoral Commission through training and technical support; Supporting the Ghana Center for Democratic Development, an independent, nonpartisan Ghanaian non-profit organization, to study election reforms, provide civic education, encourage voter participation, and oversee a comprehensive domestic election observation program;

Supporting the United Nations Development Program to provide training on peace messaging for the National and Regional Peace Councils, the media, traditional and religious leaders, the judiciary, the police, women’s organizations, and youth and civil society organizations; and to host a national-level dialogue with key political actors; Partnering with the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding to establish early warning and response systems to mitigate electoral violence; Providing grants to Ghanaian NGOs, civil society organizations, and community-based organizations that promote more inclusive and peaceful elections;

Training youth leaders on digital solutions to address issues such as voter apathy, election violence, and lower participation by women; Training journalists on responsible election reporting; Deploying U.S. Embassy election observers throughout Ghana on Election Day. In total, the United States is spending more than $5.7 million to support Ghana’s 2016 Presidential Elections. Source:|Ghana

Source: || Ghana

Ghana: Electora body aims at world-class polls

The Electoral Commission (EC) on Friday, 26 August launched a five-year communication strategy to increase transparency and facilitate communication with voters and stakeholders ahead of this year’s elections.

The communication strategy forms part of internal reforms by the Commission to ensure that it is well placed to superintend a credible and world-class election in December 2016.

Other internal reforms include a new legal department and a new structure for managing third party/fee for service elections and renewed focus on Internally Generated Funds.

Launching the strategy in Accra, Chair of the EC Mrs Charlotte Osei said effective communication was necessary if outcomes of this year’s elections are to be seen as transparent and credible by all stakeholders.

“As the body responsible for managing elections in Ghana, we recognise that effective communication drives transparency, accountability and ultimately better services and outcomes and success in improving outcomes and the quality of the electoral services we provide. …The communication strategy that we are going to launch today is the blueprint of how we intend to effectively communicate with all internal and external stakeholders in order to deliver on our core electoral mandate. It comes at a time when we have purposed to improve our relationship with our key stakeholders and reposition the commission as a lawful, transparent and responsive institution which is aligned to its responsibilities of delivering a credible world-class election,” Mrs Osei added.

According to her, Ghana’s EC is aiming to be the benchmark in Africa for the delivery of independent, trusted, and world-class electoral outcomes. “Effective communications is, therefore, imperative to building understanding and trust among our stakeholders.”

Source: Ghana/

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

South Africa: Governing ANC loses mayoral post in Johannesburg

[Africanews/AFP] South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has won a crucial seat in the heart of the country as the party continues to gather popularity following the recent local government elections

Herman Mashaba is the new mayor of Johannesburg, after the African National Congress ruling party failed to win an outright majority in the city.

He defeated ANC’s candidate, Parks Tau, who’d been the mayor since 2011.

The DA united with the Freedom Front Plus, Congress of the People, United Democratic Movement and African Christian Democratic Party who won support of the Economic Freedom Fighters.

The EFF holds a decisive 30 seats in the city and despite misgivings about Mashaba’s commitment to the poor it backed the DA in order to oust the ANC.

Four of the six largest cities in the country are now governed by mayors from the opposition party. This also includes Pretoria, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

The DA came in at second place after the ANC party, during the municipal elections winning 104 seats out of the total 270 seats. The ANC won with 121 seats.

The municipal elections are considered the worst electoral performance for ANC since the end of apartheid.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Gabon: Opposition coalition chooses ex-AU chief as candidate for president

(Reuters) - Gabon's main opposition parties chose former foreign minister Jean Ping as its candidate in an election on Aug. 27 against President Ali Bongo, who is standing for a second term in one of Africa's leading oil-producing nations.

Ping, aged 74, is considered one of Africa's foremost diplomats. His career has included a spell as chairman of the African Union commission and as president of the U.N. General Assembly.

He was an ally and protege of the president's father, Omar Bongo, who ruled Gabon for 42 years until his death in 2009. Ping fell out with Ali Bongo, who won a disputed election in 2009, and resigned from the ruling party in 2014.

"We think that this event will constitute the real departure point for change in this country and the start of a new Gabon," said Zacharie Myboto, who presided over the signing ceremony at which Ping was chosen over several other possible candidates.

Gabon's one-round electoral system is seen as favouring Bongo, though opposition unity could help overcome the president's institutional advantages accrued over the decades his family has held power.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Zambia: EU observers okay elections, faults state media

The EU observer mission in Zambia has presented its report on the country’s presidential election held last Thursday.

The report noted that the elections were devoid of any major disturbances.

The 120-member election observer mission seemed content with voter turnout estimated at about 57 percent.

The mission’s chief observer,Cecile Kashetu Kyenge, commended the Electoral Commission for its efforts in organising the poll, but said it could have done better.

“The electoral commission also made efforts to increase transparency in the electoral administration, however it did miss some opportunities to further enhance the transparency of the process, as it did not allow international nor domestic observers to access a number of important activities.”

The international election observers however criticised the state media of not being neutral.

The State media was said to have demonstrated systematic bias and it failed to provide fair and equitable coverage of the campaigns.

Some excesses on the part of political parties during the electoral campaign were also revealed.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Gabon: International community call for free and fair elections

The UN, EU, United States and four major European states appealed Friday for Gabon to ensure a free and fair presidential in a vote later this month, in which the incumbent is vying for reelection.

On the eve of the campaign for the August 27 election getting underway, they urged authorities to ensure respect for freedom of expression and association, as well as fair access to the media.

"It's essential that political figures favour dialogue and negotiation and refrain from all incitement to violence, to hatred or the stigmatisation of certain communities," said the embassies of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States in a joint statement.

"It is also essential that national and international norms in fundamental freedoms and human rights be respected, notably in the maintenance of law and order," the statement added.

The statement was also signed by the special representative of the UN Secretary General for Central Africa and the delegations of the European Union and the International Organisation of La Francophonie.

Incumbent Ali Bongo was elected for a first term in a disputed 2009 vote following the death of his father Omar Bongo Ondimba, who had steered Gabon from 1967 and was described by critics as a corrupt despot.

This rule saw the country tap its newfound oil wealth that led to a per capita income four times that of most sub-Saharan African nations.

However most of it has not trickled down to ordinary people and critics accuse the Bongo family of usurping the country's riches and stifling democracy.


Gabon: Bongo outmuscles rivals as election campaign begins

[AFP] Tens of thousands of supporters of Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba turned out Saturday to back his re-election, as less well-equipped rivals struggled to compete on the first day of campaigning.

Bongo accused his rivals, mostly septuagenarian supporters of his father Omar Bongo, of having killed the old man "by a thousand cuts ... by sabotaging his actions through repeated lies," speaking at a rally attended by 60,000 outside Libreville according to police.

His main rival among 13 other candidates for the presidency, former head of the Commission of the African Union Jean Ping, drew 2-3,000 people to two public meetings in the center of the African country.

Bongo, whose father ruled for 41 years until his death in 2009, has dismissed allegations he is not Gabonese, but Nigerian — which would make him ineligible to stand for re-election in the Aug. 27 polls.

The 57-year-old, nicknamed, "ABO," declared himself the candidate of "change," ridiculing his rivals for "making my birth certificate into their political program. Lamentable. Pitiful," he said.

His posters, declaring "Ali, Let's Change Together," were everywhere in Libreville, while it was difficult to find any other candidates' campaign material.

"While he buys planes ... Ferraris, Rolls Royces with your money, you, you have no roads, no schools," Ping told a rally attended by an AFP journalist.

"The president's candidate posters were put up by soldiers in the night in Libreville, while others tore down our posters," added Ping, a former minister.

On July 25, the constitutional court rejected an appeal against the eligibility of Bongo, who came to power in a disputed election following his father's death and is standing for a second seven-year term.

Earlier this month, Bongo warned of possible unrest during the election which he said was the "strategy" of the opposition.

The representative of the EU election observation mission also called on politicians to "do everything" to "avoid any violence or any form of provocation."

Gabon: Campaign for August 27 presidential election kicks off

[Africanews/AFP] Gabon’s 14 presidential aspirants including the incumbent President Ali Bongo Ondimba have officially began campaigning on Saturday towards the August 27 presidential election.

The incumbent’s campaign posters have swallowed that of the opposition parties especially in the capital Libreville, AFP reports.

President Ali Bongo is expected to hold a huge rally at the Libreville stadium on Saturday afternoon, as announced by the country’s major media platforms.

The former president of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, who is one of the main candidates in the election is also expected to hold a rally today in the Lambarene region in the central part of the country.

Another candidate and former president of the National Assembly Guy Nzouba Ndama was not allowed to hold a rally in another stadium in Libreville on Saturday, his aides said. They have however requested to hold their rally on Monday.

Another strong opposition is the former Prime Minister Casimir Oye Mba who promised to take the election to the second round. He and other candidates who were close allies of the president’s father Omar Bongo, claim that Ali Bongo was adopted from Nigeria and cannot be the President of Gabon.

The opposition have strongly campaigned to bring constitutional reforms in the country.

The international community has called for the respect of freedom of expression, association and assembly as well as equitable access to the country’s public media. These were jointly voiced in a statement on Friday by UN and EU representatives including embassies of France, the United States, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Ghana: Governing party officially launches 2016 campaign

President John Dramani Mahama has officially launched the National Democratic Congress’s (NDC) campaign for the 2016 election.

President Mahama declared the campaign duly launched at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium on Sunday, where thousands of party members including the party Founder, Jerry John Rawlings gathered.

The NDC said the campaign will reflect its achievements and what it intends to do given another term in office. President Mahama’s running mate, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, as well as the party’s national campaign team and parliamentary candidates, were also outdoored.

The party said the choice of the Central Region for the campaign launch, was a tribute to the late former President, John Evans Atta Mills, who hails from the region, four years after his passing.

The campaign launch, themed “Changing Lives, Transforming Ghana”, will be followed by the party’s manifesto launch which the General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia said may happen in Sunyani, the Brong Ahafo Regional capital.

Launching the campaign, President Mahama urged all party members to work to retain the party in office. He noted that the NPP is disunited and cannot govern the country should they be voted for.

-Citifmonline || Ghana

Friday, August 12, 2016

Zambia: vote counting in tight elections underway

Delay in distributing electoral materials prolonged voting in some parts of Zambia to the early hours of Friday when counting had already started in most constituencies.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has however announced on Friday afternoon that all polling stations in the country have officially closed and voting is still ongoing.

Priscilla Isaac, ECZ Director explained that the last polling stations closed around 02:00 am local time (24:00 GMT) and called for patience as the ballots are being counted.

The ECZ Director also warned that results announced on social media are not from the commission and are not official as they are expecting some results later in the day.

Civil society groups have also called for calm to allow the electoral commission to collate the results.

The Christian Churches Monitoring Group appealed to candidates and their parties to “call for calm and restraint on the part of their supporters as results are tallied and winners announced,” the Zambian National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) reported.

Thursday’s general election in Zambia was described as calm and had a huge turn out as ballots were cast for the Presidential, National Assembly, Mayor/ Council Chairpersons election and then the constitutional referendum.

The election will go into a second round if none of the nine presidential candidates secures more than 50% of the votes cast.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Zambia: All set for close to call elections

[Africanews with AFP] A few hours from now, the Zambian population will be heading to the polls to choose their new leader.

A total of nine candidates are standing in the presidential race, though it really seems to be a tight two-horse race between President Edgar Lungu of the ruling Patriotic Front and his main challenger Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development.

Electoral campaigns were marred with different incidents of violence between supporters of the two main candidates, but voters seem to have already made their decisions, on the person they will vote for.

“Definitely I’ll vote for Edward Lungu because I have seen the development around. Am not just voting blindly. I have seen what he’s doing,” said one voter.

“People like in these compounds can only afford one meal a day, which is not normal,” said another voter.

Thursday’s polls will take place as the country goes through a severe economic crisis, triggered by the recent drop in copper prices.

Observers say it is difficult to gauge which of the two main candidates is the favorite because unlike past elections, no polls have been conducted around this time. The opposition party has also on several occasions accused the incumbent president of trying to silence them.

“The president has been issuing threats against opposition leaders, saying he would arrest them, he would detain them after the vote and so forth. he has said things like “They should accept the results”, as if he knows what the results will be. All that seems unfortunate, coming from a head of state who is also a participant in the election,” said Neo Simutanyi, Director of Think Tank, Zambia.

Last minute rallies are expected to be held today in the capital Lusaka, in a bid to woo voters one last time.

Following the death of President Michael Sata, Edgar Lungu narrowly beat Hakainde Hichilema in the 2015 presidential by-election. Only 27,000 votes separated the winner and the loser.

This time, both candidates say they are confident of victory in the first round of voting.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Gabon: AU to send observers for presidential elections

[Africanews with Agencies] The African Union Commission has approved the deployment of an African Union Elections Observer mission for Gabon’s Presidential elections set to take place on 27 August.

The AU Observer mission draws its mandate from various African Union instruments, the national legislation of Gabon and the international and regional standards and good practices, among others.

The mission will consist of 52 commissioners who will be expected to provide an accurate and impartial reporting and assessment of the elections in the Republic of Gabon, including the degree to which the conduct of this election meets regional, continental and international standards for democratic elections.

Gabon president Ali Bongo Ondimba had warned of possible unrest during the elections after the opposition had started announcing that the election will not be transparent.

The opposition had maintained Bongo was ineligible to participate in the elections and claimed he was adopted from Nigeria in the 1960s by his father and long-ruling former president Omar Bongo Ondimba.

Sao Tome and Principe:Former PM elected president in one-man re-run

(Reuters) - Former prime minister Evaristo Carvalho has been elected president of Sao Tome and Principe, the election commission said on Monday, after incumbent Manuel Pinto da Costa dropped out of the race citing voting irregularities in the first round.

Carvalho won 42,058 votes in Sunday's poll, the National Electoral Commission (CEN) said, announcing provisional results. Only 46 percent of voters voted and of those 18 percent turned in blank or invalid ballots, said CEN chairman Alberto Pereira.

Vice president of the ruling ADI party, Carvalho was guaranteed victory in Sunday's run-off after Pinto da Costa quit alleging irregularities in the first round on July 17, which Carvalho led with 49.88 percent of the vote to Pinto da Costa's 24.83 percent.

Located in the Gulf of Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe is a former Portuguese colony of about 200,000 people.

Carvalho, 75, narrowly lost the last presidential election to Pinto da Costa in 2011. He was prime minister in 1994 and again in 2001-2002, and has also served as president of the national assembly and defence minister.

Pinto da Costa ruled the country as a single-party state from independence in 1975 until 1991. He was president again between 2011 and 2016.

Sao Tome and Principe has 19 oil blocks in its exclusive economic zone and an additional joint exploration zone with Nigeria, but is yet to find any commercially viable oil.

Zambia: Governing party to abide by court order for ministers to leave posts before polls

 (Reuters) - Zambia's ruling party will abide by a ruling by the Constitutional Court order that government ministers should leave their posts before the national election on Thursday, it said on Monday.

"Today's (court) decision ... gives credence to a robust and independent judiciary that Zambia has where the courts can enter judgements against the state," the PF said in a statement.

Zambia: Apex court orders ministers to exit office ahead of elections

Zambia’s constitutional court ruled on Monday that all cabinet and provincial ministers should vacate office ahead of the August 11 elections, adding that if they remain in office they would be breaching the law.

After parliament was dissolved in May, Zambia’s president Edgar Lungu said that an amendment to the constitution allowed the ministers to remain in office until the election, but the constitutional court over ruled this decision

The country’s ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party said it will abide by the ruling.

Today's decision ... gives credence to a robust and independent judiciary that Zambia has where the courts can enter judgements against the state

President Lungu is facing stiff opposition challenge and the main oppostion candidate has voiced concerns over the credibility of the vote.

“We need a free, fair, transparent and credible election and UPND is winning this election. Lungu knows that, that’s why his panicking, that’s why his behaving in a brutal way”, said Hichilema Hakainde the United  Party for National Development flag bearer.

However, African Union (AU) observers say the campaigning process has been favourable to both the ruling and oppostion parties, despite a 10-day suspension in July over violence.

Africa’s second biggest copper producer will hold presidential, parliamentary and local elections against the backdrop of slowing growth.

Analysts say the economic problems faced by residents in the southern Africa county as well as power cuts and price hikes in the capital Lusaka ,have fuelled public discontent and may help Hichilema win the election.


Chad: President Deby sworn in for a fifth term

A day after violent protests against his fifth term in office, Chadian President Idriss Deby was sworn in on Monday.

Deby took his oath in the presence of heads of state including Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila.

In his speech ,Deby his commitment to collectively fight terrorism.

“In an unstable world, and in the midst of Africa facing new torments of history, our country must continue its policy of active solidarity with our brothers and sisters who suffer whilst defending obscurantism and barbarism,” he said to a rousing applause.

The demonstration, organised by the opposition for Saturday and Sunday denounced the government, describing Deby’s regime as dictatorial.

Deby now in power for 26 years, won April’s election with 61.6 percent of the votes, with opposition leader Saleh Kebzaho taking 12.8 percent.

Chadians have repeatedly complained about restrictions on civil liberties and poor living and working conditions, calling on him to resign.

Opposition parties, which have been contesting Deby’s re-election, have vowed to maintain resistance against his leadership.


Somalia: Presidential election slated for October

Somalia’s electoral commission has announced the horn of African nation will hold its presidential election on October 30.

In a statement released on Sunday, Omar Mohamed Abdulle, chairman of Somalia’s electoral commission also announced that the election of 275-member Lower House will be from September 24 to October 10 while the election of Upper House should be completed by September 25.

More than 14,000 delegates representing Somalia clans will cast their votes for members of the Lower House, while the regional states will select the members of the Upper House.

The incumbent Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud is among dozens of candidates vying for the post of president, who will be elected by new lawmakers.

The term of the president expires on September 10, but according to a source, the speaker of parliament has approved a new resolution agreed by the national leaders forum to extend the term for the president until election day in October.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Gabon: Civil society introduces anti-election rigging app

[Africanews and AFP] As Gabon prepares to head to the polls this August members of the civil society in the country have rolled out a mobile application that they hope will limit vote rigging.

Through the app known as Regab, users will be able to get live updates on the elections and real time vote counting results.

“This application will serve us in the civil society to trace and document electoral fraud. However we also hope to especially empower the young people we will send to the field to gather information and collect the results,” says Blanche Simonny Abeghe, the head of UNDP’s anti-corruption component in Gabon.

The app will have no direct links with the country’s electoral commission, and information will be sourced directly from the polling stations and counting centres.

Presidential elections in Gabon are slated for August 27, in a contest where president Ali Bongo is expected to face a stiff challenge from the former African Union Commission chairperson Jean Ping and ex-Gabon Prime Minister Raymond Ndong Sima.

Zambia: Opposition leader doubts credibility of August elections

With just 3 days to go, Zambia’s main opposition leader says that the August 11 elections will not be free and fair.

Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, is accusing the government of using repressive laws to restrict his election campaign.

Nobody must assume I must win elections. Work hard to win the elections and accept the results of the election
“ Only yesterday, the president cancelled two of my rallies in Eastern province. Why would he not want us to campaign the way he is campaigning?” he asked while speaking to Reuters.

Hichilema, a wealthy business man, is the leader of the United Party of National Development (UPND) and will be the main challenger to Zambia’s president Edgar Lungu.

Despite the hostilities, Hichilema has urged his supporters not to be intimated and turn out in large numbers saying it was still possible to win elections.

But , African Union (AU) observers say political parties in the country have been able to participate in campaign activities without major disruption and added that the elections can be conducted in a satisfactory manner and candidates should accept any result.

“Nobody must assume I must win elections.Work hard to win the elections and accept the results of the election,” said the leader of the AU observer mission former Nigeria president, Goodluck Jonathan.

The road to elections in the southern Africa country has been marked by a series of violent incidents prompting the electoral commission in July to suspend campaigning for 10 days in two areas, including the capital Lusaka .

Photo published for Zambia’s Lungu Issues Warning on Election-linked Violence
Zambia’s Lungu Issues Warning on Election-linked Violence

While in June, the government came under fire for shutting down a media outlet due to what authorities claimed was unpaid taxes, but ,rights groups opined it was a ploy by the government to silence media ahead of the presidential and parliamentary polls.

Sao Tome and Principe proceeds with second round vote despite incumbent boycott

Sao Tome and Principe has commenced voting on Sunday in the second round of its presidential election despite the boycott by incumbent president Manuel Pinto da Costa.

Results for the first round held in July was announced in favour of the ruling party candidate and former prime minister Evaristo Carvalho, but was later canceled due to changes in figures.

Some of the country’s 111,000 voters have cast their votes in the election which is described as calm despite the president’s decision to withdraw from what he called “a fraudulent electoral process”.

Manuel Pinto da Costa together with the candidate who came third in the first round, Maria das Neves filed an appeal at the Constitutional Court calling for the cancellation of the entire election process. The case was thrown out.

“Continuing to participate in a fraudulent electoral process is tantamount to condoning it,” President Pinto da Costa insisted on Friday adding that he is not “ready as a candidate and as a president”.

Evaristo Carvalho, who is the only candidate on the ballot however encouraged the people to “exercise their right to vote on August 7 to confirm his victory in the first round”.

Voting took off slowly at 07:00 GMT but expected to pick up later in the day. Some analysts however believe the turnout will hit record low due to the withdrawal of the incumbent.


Friday, August 5, 2016

Gabon: Gabonese-Americans and others call for free and fair elections

Gabonese-Americans march from White House to US State Department urging US support to ensure that, after a half-century of one-family rule, the Ali Bongo Ondimba Government allow free and fair presidential elections on August 27th

On Friday, Gabonese-American protesters marched from the White House to the US State Department calling for an end to corruption and autocratic rule in Gabon and for increased US support to make sure that the West African country’s upcoming presidential elections are transparent, free, and fair.

The protesters join the recent call by a bi-partisan group of concerned Congressional leaders – including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman and Ranking Member, Reps. Edward R. Royce, (R-CA) and Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights & International Organizations , Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), and Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) – who introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives “[u]rging the Government of Gabon to respect democratic principles during the August 2016 presidential elections.”

In their resolution, the Congressional leaders warned that “there is concern for misconduct in the upcoming elections, including the mishandling of voter registration, creating barriers to election day polling, and the integrity of the election results,” and called on the Ali Bongo Ondimba Government to “hold orderly, peaceful, free, and fair presidential elections in August 2016 in order to ensure stability and long-term growth of Gabon.

For the full text of the resolution, go to

There is great cause for concern that without public US scrutiny of the upcoming elections, many of the irregularities and stifling of the opposition from the 2009 presidential elections will be repeated. According to the Resolution, the “hastily organized” 2009 elections, following the death of President Ondimba’s father who had ruled Gabon for more than 40 years, “were plagued with instances of destructive demonstrations, human rights abuses, irregularities of voter registration lists, improperly guarded polls, unfair censorship of news coverage, and post-election violence.” To ensure that the August 27, 2016 presidential elections are conducted fairly, the Congressmen called on the “United States and other international partners, especially electoral focused nongovernmental organizations, to help create an environment which facilitates open communication, guarantees free and fair elections, encourages voter participation, and fosters a robust civil society.”

“What is asked of us for the 2016 elections isn’t simply to choose one president over another, but to create a new Gabon – a country that is stable and shared, a Gabon for All,” said Dr. Jean Ping, a former Gabonese diplomat, President of the fifty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly, and Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, who will challenge current President Ali Bongo Ondimba in the upcoming elections.

According to the US State Department, Gabon “is a key player in conflict resolution in the Central African region” and the US “share[s] a commitment to diversify and strengthen Gabon’s economy, expand bilateral trade, ensure security in the Gulf of Guinea, and combat trafficking.” While Gabon’s constitution calls for a multiparty system, it was amended in 2003 to remove presidential term limits, potentially allowing President Ondimba to continue his family’s more than half century rule over the country.

Gabon: President warns of election unrest

Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba has warned of possible unrest during the August 27 election which he said was the "strategy" of the opposition challenging his eligibility to seek a second seven-year term.

"It is to be feared, because it is the opposition's strategy for many years," Bongo said in an interview with the weekly "Jeune Afrique" published on Sunday which asked him if he feared "abuses and even violence" after the vote.

The opposition "has started to heat things up by announcing that the election will not be transparent, that we will steal victory," the president said.

Bongo described as "nonsense" the arguments of critics who have opposed his re-election on the grounds that he was a Nigerian who was adopted in the 1960s by his father, long-ruling former president Ali Bongo, and was therefore ineligible as a foreigner under the constitution.

"If they come to this kind of argument – challenging my eligibility, my birth and other nonsense – this proves that they recognise that my record is good (...) They fear an honest campaign, programme against programme, and obviously prefer slander," he said.

Gabon's constitutional court last week rejected appeals lodged by three opponents against his candidacy.

The representative of the EU election observation mission on Thursday called on politicians to "do everything" to "avoid any violence or any form of provocation" with tensions high ahead of the presidential polls.

“Speed up, step on the gas”

As the elections approach, the security forces have had a greater presence in the capital Libreville, with road checkpoints at night.

Assessing his seven-year term, the president regretted "not having maintained the pace of reforms", particularly to diversify the economy of the oil-producing west African country.

"I was talking one day with President Obama on the difficulty of reform, the pitfalls ... He replied: "In that situation, the best advice I can give you is to speed up, step on the gas", this is what we will do."

Bongo was elected for a first term in a disputed 2009 vote following the death of his father Omar Bongo Ondimba, who had steered Gabon from 1967 and was described by critics as a corrupt despot.

This rule saw the country tap its new found oil wealth that led to a per capita income four times that of most sub-Saharan African nations.

However most of it has not trickled down to ordinary people. Critics accuse the Bongo family of usurping the country's riches and stifling democracy.


DRC: Election to happen after compilation of voters register

[Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban] President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Joseph Kabila, says the country would hold elections when a voters register is available. His first comments on the issue of elections following opposition accusations he wants to stay beyond his tenure.

The DRC leader whose government is under local and international pressure to organize elections stated that there was a false perception that the country would not be able to organise general elections.

“We have organised elections on two occasions. Elections are organised by an independent Electoral Commission. In order for them to be organised, we need a voters register and registration,” Kabila during a media interaction whiles on a visit to neighbouring Uganda.

We have started voter registration. It will take time but as soon as the voters register is available, we shall have an election.
“We have started voter registration. It will take time but as soon as the voters register is available, we shall have an election,’‘ he added.

Kabila is not eligible to stand in the next elections but there are concerns in the ranks of the opposition that he is doing all it takes to stay in power beyond his mandate.

Veteran opposition leader, 83-year-old Etienne Tshisekedi returned to the country after two years of treatment in Belgium to lead the local call for elections to be held without Kabila.

Another opposition figure Moise Katumbi, left the country for medical treatment but is expected back despite threats to be jailed. Katumbi was found guilty in absentia in a property appropriation case and handed a four year jail term. His lawyers have described the charges as a political witch-hunt meant to derail their clients’ presidential ambitions.

Kabila has been in power since 2001, and is constitutionally bound to step down after serving two terms, after winning 2006 and 2011 elections. The country’s highest court ruled in May that Kabila could remain in power until the next election is held.

In March, the Security Council called on the country to organize elections this year, but the government says logistical and budgetary obstacles make it unrealistic. The election commission has said it needs more than a year to update voter rolls.

The government has however contracted Gemalto, a world leader in the area of digital security to help the electoral body with 22,000 mobile biometric voter enrollment kits.

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.