Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ban Ki-Moon calls Mahama, Akufo-Addo over Ghana’s stability

The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon is urging the presidential candidates of the two leading political party; President John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to ensure peace in the country this electioneering period.

The Secretary General in separate telephone calls placed to the two candidates on Tuesday, November 29 said it was important for them to help maintain an environment of peace and credible elections.

He said the two candidates must help in defusing tensions and preserving peace before, during and after the 2016 general elections.

He also urged the two to sign “a Code of Conduct which will greatly assist in lowering tensions and preventing electoral violence.”

Read the Secretary General’s full release below:

Secretary-General’s telephone conversations with H.E. Mr. John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana, and Mr. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Head of Ghana’s opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP)

Today, the Secretary-General had separate telephone conversations with H.E. Mr. John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana, and Mr. Nana Akufo-Addo, head of Ghana’s opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), to discuss the general elections that are scheduled to take place on 7 December in Ghana.

The Secretary-General underscored the importance of an environment conducive to peaceful and credible elections, and urged the two leaders to continue their role in defusing tensions and preserving peace. Bearing in mind Ghana’s history of political stability and peaceful elections, the Secretary-General underscored the need for all political parties to sign a Code of Conduct, which will greatly assist in lowering tensions and preventing electoral violence.
New York, 29 November 2016.”

The international community have shown a keen interest in Ghana’s elections following the country’s enviable record in holding peaceful polls in spite of high pre-election tension.

‘US warns nationals in Ghana’

Last week, the US Embassy in Accra issued an alert to its citizens in Ghana to avoid political hotspots. The release mentioned a number areas in the country the embassy had identified as hotspots where violence or electoral trouble may occur with little or no danger warning.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ins and outs of Gambia's electoral system as they vote with marbles

Ins and outs of Gambia's electoral system as they vote with marbles

Gambia is holding its presidential election on December 1 under the supervision of the country’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

 invented by Teads
Three candidates are running for the presidency including incumbent President Yahya Jammeh who is running for a fifth term in office.

The other two candidates are businessman Adama Barrow and former National Assembly member under Jammeh’s party, Mamma Kandeh.

886, 578 voters at 1,422 polling stations in 53 constituencies in the seven administrative regions of the country are expected to cast their ballots on December 1.

Glass Marble Ballots & Coloured Drums

Marbles represent ballot papers in Gambia and there are no ballot boxes but ballot drums.
Each of the presidential candidates gets a metal drum painted in a specific colour, with their photograph and symbol pasted on it.

President Yahya Jammeh will be represented by the Green drum, and Adama Barrow by the Grey drum while Mamma Kandeh will be represented by the Yellow drum.

Voters are each handed a glass marble and retreat into an enclosed space where they are faced with the three drums, once they choose their candidate they slip the token into a small hole.

Polling officials will listen carefully for the clang of a bicycle bell which is attached to the end of a tube inside the drum, preventing people from voting more than once.
Sawdust or sand is sprinkled on the bottom of the barrel so that no second sound is heard.

Vote Counting

Counting is snappy as the marbles are poured into a wooden tray with 200 or 500 holes and then counted.

Gambia practices the plurality voting system which means the candidate who receives a greater number of votes than anyone wins.

This year, the IEC introduced an “on the spot vote count system” to increase transparency and a candidate who has a simple majority of votes would be declared winner.

This means the votes will be counted immediately and declared at the polling stations.
The winner of the election will enjoy a five-year term as president.

The small West African nation with less than two million people will also hold legislative and local elections in April 2017 and April 2018 respectively.



Somalia's presidential elections postponed again

Somalia's presidential elections postponed again

Somalia’s presidential elections scheduled for November 30 have been postponed for a third time to a later unspecified date.

 invented by Teads
The chairman of the country’s electoral body told the media on Monday that the elections will be held before the end of the year.

Parliamentary elections expected to end before the scheduled date for the presidential is ongoing despite reports of irregularities and corruption which are under investigation.

Members of the 275-seat Lower House of parliament and the 54-seat Upper House elect the president, according to the country’s Provisional Federal Constitution.

As universal elections are not yet possible in Somalia, 14,025 clan representatives who form part of an Electoral College elect the 275 members of the Lower House of parliament while regional parliaments elect the 54 members of the Upper House.

Among the presidential candidates are the incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Fadumo Dayib, one of the two females to ever run for president in the East African country that has faced threats from Islamist group al-Shabaab.



Campaign Songs Mean Something


From Lucky Mensah’s “Yese Samu” to Shatta Wale’s “Mahama Paper”, political parties have used songs from artistes to send their political message across. Though “Mahama Paper” was just a song without any political intention, it has been ‘adopted’ by the ruling NDC party.

Many others are the songs used by political parties to campaign in hopes of ruling mother Ghana. The catchy phrases and choruses from these songs make it hard for anyone to ignore. Even children who do not understand the dynamics of politics or the purpose of these songs sing along whenever they are played, mispronouncing the words often.

Are these songs just to entertain electorates? No. They are campaign messages presented in an entertaining form to drive home the political party’s agenda.

In 2008, the NPP undoubtedly had the most popular campaign song composed and sang by Highlife Legend Daddy Lumba, titled “We are moving forward”. The song was played all over the country even at “non-political” places like drinking bars, chop bars and individual parties. The song till date is making waves. Surprisingly the NPP are now looking for change and not the “moving forward” of the sitting government but, the song is still played and never seems to fade with time. In recent times, NDC’s “John 3:16” is also making waves. John representing their Presidential candidate, John Dramani Mahama. The 3 stands for the position of President John Mahama on the ballot paper for the 2016 elections. It has become evident that a lot of thought goes into these songs and the messages are carefully crafted.

To say these songs have no influence on political campaign is to commit a political sin. John 3:16 will be imprinted in the minds of NDC sympathisers when they go to cast their vote. No need to start looking for their Presidential candidate on the ballot paper. They have been told he is number 3 through the song. So that eradicates any chance of voting for any other candidate apart from the 3rd on the ballot.

For NPP’s “Yese samu” the message to electorates is clear, we are changing government. We want Nana Akufo-Addo to come to power. The song discredits the sitting government, explaining why change is important.

Music is one of the most powerful tools. It can definitely change the mind-set, emotions and feelings of the listener. The right song at the right place and time can cause a change. An inspirational song can lift the spirit of a sad person, listening to heart-breaking songs can slip a person into depression because it will bring to the listener sad memories. The right kind of song, with the right message at the right time can definitely bring about change.

Campaign songs are not to entertain, they are meant to influence and indeed they do influence. But as to how far that influence rakes in votes, only the ballot papers will decide.



All too soon, Ghana has just eleven more days to go to the polls to decide who the majority of eligible Ghanaian electorates believe is the right person to spearhead the affairs of government business for the next four years. Many issues have come up in the run up to this election. It is not far from truth to assert that this year's general elections has had more labels and substantial issues raised and discussed than previous elections. Some of these issues that have been raised tend to have rippling effects on our cultural heritage and coexistence. It would be hard to clearly determine what would take place after the dust surrounding the 2016 general elections is finally settled when the winner is declared.

The issue of tribalism and ethnocentrism have been discussed in the run-up to the general elections. Many people are of the view that Ghanaians are one people regardless of their ethnic affiliations. However, it has become common place in recent times to see and hear some candidates in this year's general elections campaign on ethnic grounds.

The sitting president and candidate on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress came under a barrage of attack and criticism when it came to light that his speech had hints of tribalism. President Mahama is reported to have engaged in ethnic politics in the northern part of the country to get votes. “I pity Northerners who are calling for change,” President Mahama, told residents of Lawra in the Upper West Region when toured the area as part of his campaign. He reportedly called on Northerners not to vote for Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP, because they hate people from the north, adding “they will use you and dump you.” These comments did not go down well with many people who called on opinion leaders and other bodies to call the president to order.  Even the leader of the main opposition party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, spoke against the president's remarks. It can be recalled however, that, ex-president John Agyekum Kuffour at a campaign tour in the Eastern region, urged party faithfuls to vote massively for Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo because he was their "son", a comment that has tribal outlook.

It can therefore be said that, on the issue of tribalism, both the NDC and NPP will be found culpable for such utterances. Is it to the bane of our existence as people from different ethnic backgrounds? Does it augur well for national development? These are the issues that need to be looked at to avoid anything untoward in future.

We need to hold our leaders accountable for their speech and let them know that whatever they say or do would likely come back and bite them in future. Whether or not the electorate would look beyond these misgivings and vote on issues would be soon decided come 7th December.


Prior to the election day, Ghana has seen history in the making. For the first time in its democratic history, some Presidential aspirants were disqualified. Interestingly, some were later cleared to contest the 2016 elections following the Supreme Court ruling.

Faced with the bitter truth about missing out on any opportunity to become President any time soon, some of these aspirants have moved to openly declared support for other political parties with utter disregard for differences in policies. The leader of the Ghana Freedom Party quickly jumped back onto the campaign trail of the NDC. The Presidential aspirant for the APC stated he would go to court but promised not to hold the country to ransom by putting an injunction on the general elections. Just when we had moved on from the disqualifications, the leader of the DPP, Thomas Ward-Brew took the Electoral Commission back to court. The court however disqualified his lawsuit. For Kofi Apaloo of the IPP, he is ever ready to accept an appointment for the NPP should they come into power. Well that exposes where he stands. It is not an unusual practice but one would think the differences in ideologies and policies would have influenced these decisions.

Some have argued that the alliances of the smaller parties with the major parties would not have any significant effect. But I beg to differ. In an election where 50 percent plus one (50+1) is needed for a winner to be declared, even one vote makes the difference. These smaller parties have a significance influence when it comes to these pre-electoral alliances. If a candidate gets 50 percent of the votes and a smaller party brings one vote to the table, guess who the decider of the election is. Yes, that’s right. Major political parties cannot do away with the “little” help the alliances bring.

Another thing these alliances bring is resources. All resources hitherto controlled by the smaller parties before the alliance are now at the disposal of the parties they join. These include, cars, financial and human resources.

I have however wondered how the images of the disqualified aspirants affect the parties they form alliance with. On the other hand, I think these alliances speak of unity. No matter our differences, we can still come together. Even though we have exchanged some harsh words prior to this point, we can move forward together. That is the beauty of political alliances.

Gambia elections: Jammeh suspends campaign to mourn Castro

Gambia elections: Jammeh suspends campaign to mourn Castro
Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh has suspended his campaign for Thursday's election as a mark of respect for Cuba's Fidel Castro.
The information minister said the move was to mourn the revolutionary leader, who died on Friday at the age of 90.
Cuba was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with The Gambia after Mr Jammeh took power in a coup in 1994.
Mr Jammeh, 51, is seeking re-election for a fifth term in office.
For the first time since he came to power he will be facing a single major opposition candidate.


Thabo Mbeki arrives in Ghana today; leads Commonwealth Observer Mission for December 7 polls

Thabo Mbeki arrives in Ghana today; leads Commonwealth Observer Mission for Dec 7 polls
Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, is expected in Accra on Tuesday to lead the Commonwealth Observer Mission for the general elections on December 7.
The South African diplomat will stay in Ghana for the next two weeks, returning to his home country on December 13.
Mr Mbeki says he accepted the Commonwealth assignment because “all of us have a responsibility to do everything possible to ensure that Africa continues to consolidate and deepen democracy as one of the central pillars in her Renaissance.”
Ghanaians will on December 7, 2016, elect a new President and 275 Members of Parliament.
Six other candidates are contesting incumbent President John Dramani Mahama who is seeking a second four-year term in office.
The presidential election on December 7 is billed to be a fierce contest between NPP's Nana Akufo-Addo, who is making his third attempt at the presidency, and incumbent President John Mahama.
Others are Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, wife of Former President Jerry John Rawlings, Papa Kwesi Nduom of the Progressive Peoples Party (PPP), Ivor Kobina Greenstreet of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), Dr Edward Mahama of the People's National Convention (PNC) who is also making his fifth attempt at the Presidency and independent candidate, Jacob Osei Yeboah (JOY).
A total of 15,683,435 voters will be expected to cast their ballot to elect the new President and Parliamentarians.


Friday, November 25, 2016


Somalia’s parliamentary elections have been subject to vote-buying and intimidation, leaving them without credibility, according to the country’s top auditor.
The Horn of Africa country, which is emerging from more than two decades of conflict and is still blighted by an Islamist insurgency, is currently holding limited parliamentary and presidential elections.
In the parliamentary elections, an electorate of just under 14,000 delegates—who have been chosen by 135 clan elders—will vote for 275 members of the lower house of parliament. Regional parliaments are electing the 54-member upper house of parliament, which did not exist before the current elections.
In an interview with Voice of America’s Somali service, Nur Jimale Farah, the country’s auditor general, said that vote-buying was common practice in the country. “Some votes were bought with $5,000, some with $10,000, and some with $20,000 or $30,000,” said Farah, who added that his office had recorded two seats costing their respective winners $1.3 million each.
Farah added that candidates in some regions, including the port city of Kismayo and the southwestern city of Baidoa, had been prevented from entering election halls, resulting in the other candidate being elected. Some delegates had also been threatened and so stayed away from voting, Farah said.
Newsweek contacted the National Independent Electoral Commission in Somalia for a comment but received no immediate reply.
The United Nations envoy to Somalia, Michael Keating, said earlier in November that “vote buying and bribes is a reality” but that the electoral process was still “infinitely more robust” than when Somalia last held elections in 2012.
The elections are viewed as an important step towards full democracy in Somalia, which did not have a stable government for 20 years before the current administration was formed in 2012. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who is running for re-election, told Newsweek that he hoped the one person, one vote system would be implemented in Somalia in time for elections in 2020.
Somalia still faces manifold challenges, the highest of which is the security situation. Al-Shabab, an Al-Qaeda-aligned militant group, has upped its attacks in 2016 and pledged to disrupt the elections. The country is also dealing with an increased threat from cells of fighters loyal to the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).
More than 20,000 African Union peacekeepers are deployed in Somalia, although several countries—including Ethiopia and Uganda—have either pulled out or indicated that they intend to withdraw from the country soon. Any new government will also have to rebuild Somalia’s fragile economy, which has been hampered by a lack of infrastructure and security issues.


Sudan Security Forces Arrest Opposition Leaders

Authorities in Sudan on Wednesday arrested four opposition leaders including veteran politician Sadiq Youssef as part of a crackdown on protests, the country’s opposition coalition says.

 invented by Teads
The capital, Khartoum has seen a series of small but rare protests over the past week amid rising prices and government austerity measures that have included price hikes on electricity and fuel as well as import restrictions.

Sudan’s economy has struggled since South Sudan seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of the country’s oil output, a key source of foreign currency and government revenue.

Youssef is one of the country’s most recognised politicians and a leader of the National Consensus Forces, a political coalition that opposes Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Bashir, who took power in a 1989 coup, is accused of masterminding genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes during Sudan’s Darfur conflict.
He is wanted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court, which issued a warrant for his arrest in 2009. He had denied any wrongdoing.

National Consensus Forces spokesman Mohammed Dia al-Din was also arrested, along with Manzar Abu al-Maali and Tareq Abdel Mageed from the opposition coalition.



Monday, November 14, 2016

Democratic Republic of Congo Prime Minister Resigns

Augustin Matata Ponyo said on Monday he had resigned as prime minister of Democratic Republic of Congo in line with a political deal that extends Joseph Kabila's tenure as president.

Kabila was due to step down on Dec. 19 but his ruling coalition and part of the opposition agreed last month to delay a presidential vote until April 2018, citing logistical problems in registering millions of voters and a lack of financing.
"I have just handed in my resignation and that of my government to the president of the republic in line with the spirit of the political accord signed on October 18," Matata said.
His departure could pave the way for a government with posts for some of those opposition figures who agreed to the election delay.
However, the main opposition bloc has rejected the accord and more than 50 people died in street protests in September aimed at increasing pressure on Kabila to step down.
Kabila's critics say his aim is to change the constitution, which limits him to two terms in office, in order to secure a third.
The country's constitutional court has given the go-ahead for the rescheduling of the election.
Kabila became president following the assassination of his father in 2001 and won disputed elections in 2006 and 2011.


Friday, November 4, 2016

UN diplomat cautions Ghana not to taint its electoral credibility

A United Nations diplomat, Dr. Ibn Chambas, has asked key stakeholders in Ghana’s electoral system to be careful not to do anything that would compromise the reputation of the December 7 general elections.

He said it is important that Ghana, which has been labeled as a trailblazer in peaceful elections on the African continent, ensures a transparent and credible elections in order to protect its image.

 “We must be mindful of the reputation of being a trailblazer in handling keenly contested elections. We cannot at this point, be taking a step back when many of our neighbours are now delivering credible elections,” he said on 3FM’s morning show, Sunrise on Thursday.

The former Ghanaian parliamentary who is currently the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Office of West Africa (UNOWA), said he expects nothing but “transparent, credible elections” on December 7.

He observed the processes so far have not been rosy, the processes are still on course, saying “there have been skirmishes here and there but nothing violent has disrupted the process”. 

He added: “I expect the post-election period will be peaceful so we can re-focus on the urgent issues of development and growing the economy for the good people of this beautiful country”. 

Judiciary must be up to the task
Mr Chambas said a joint AU and UN delegation had interaction with the Chief Justice and her team on their preparedness to deal with legal issues that may arise out of this year’s elections to which they received a positive response.

“We are in the last mile of the race of the elections and the courts have a role to play…On a joint visit of the AU and UN, we interaction with the Chief Justice and her team, who assured us of their readiness for the elections,” he said.

Mr Chambas underscored the need for the judiciary to work with some urgency in order not to derail the electoral calendar. “They should be up to the task by engaging in speedy adjudication of election related matters to save the electoral calendar. I don’ think we should be in panic mood yet,” he advised.

The citizenry, he said, also have a crucial role to play in the judicial process by showing confidence in the judicial system and other key stakeholder institutions as well as allow them the space to work.

But he indicated the institutions themselves also have to exhibit commitment, saying, “the judiciary, police and of course the Electoral Commission must also demonstrate professionalism, impartial and with high commitment to ensure that the example that Ghana is in the management of elections remains as such”.

He also urged Ghanaians to endeavour to safeguard the peace in the country, especially as the country prepares for the December 7 general elections because the world will be monitoring. 



Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Electoral Commission chairperson, Charlotte Osei has told the BBC the printing of ballot papers for the Parliamentary elections has begun.

With some 33 days to the general elections, Mrs Osei said the EC, whilst awaiting the verdict of the courts on the many suits against it, had to start preparing the materials of the parliamentary elections over which there is no dispute.

The presidential ballot, she explained, would be printed after the cases are settled and a determination is made as who is qualified to participate in the election, she asserted.

She made these statements in an interview with the BBC and former Joy FM's news anchor, Akwasi Sarpong.

The EC boss stressed that the Commission will ensure successful elections in December.

On litany of court suits against the commission
Speaking of the suits filed by some aggrieved presidential aspirants against the commission over their disqualification, Mrs Charlotte Osei insisted that her outfit acted in accordance with the law.

"It is proper for them to go to court is a rule of law, you are not happy with the decisions of the commission, you go to court, you don't go to the streets," she noted.