Mozambique Votes In Tense Election After Violent Campaign

People queue at Chota Primary School in Beira, Mozambique on October 15, 2019.
PHOTO: PATRICK MEINHARDT / AFP

 

Mozambique began voting in a general election on Tuesday that some fear could test the country’s fragile peace, after a heated campaign marred by violence and allegations of electoral fraud.

The Frelimo party, which has ruled the southern African nation since independence from Portugal in 1975, is widely expected to again beat its arch-rival Renamo, a former rebel group turned main opposition party.

President Filipe Nyusi, who cast his ballot as polls opened at 7:00 am (0500 GMT), called on voters to show “the world we stand for democracy and tolerance”.

“Mozambique has chosen to move forward peacefully,” he said, adding that more than 4,000 observers had been deployed in the most-watched election in the country’s history.

“Let’s continue this process in a serene way. Peace means that everything must be done according to the rules.”

Nyusi, 60, is forecast to win a second five-year term despite his popularity taking a hit from chronic unrest and a financial crisis linked to alleged state corruption.

While the election is expected to see regional wins for Renamo, few think Frelimo will be unseated from the government after 44 years at the helm.

“Frelimo is a machine,” said Castro Davis, a 42-year-old public servant in the capital Maputo, predicting a “straight-forward victory.”

Elena Jorge, 50, told AFP she wants Renamo to win “but people know that these elections will not be free, fair or transparent — but we have hope.”

Around 13 million of Mozambique’s 30 million citizens are registered to vote at more than 20,000 polling booths, which close at 6:00 pm (1600 GMT).

 ‘Test for democracy’

Renamo is predicted to take control of three to five of Mozambique’s 10 provinces for the first time following a change of law allowing voters to elect provincial governors.

“This election will be a test for democracy,” said Ericino de Salema of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa.

“For the first time, the political geography of the country may change substantially, it may even lead to confrontation.”

Renamo’s candidate Ossufo Momade, 58, heads a party of former anti-communist rebels who fought a brutal civil war with Frelimo from 1975-1992, devastating the economy and leaving almost one million people dead.

Renamo picked up arms again in 2013 to 2016, but tension continued until Nyusi and Momade signed a peace deal in August.

But an armed breakaway faction of Renamo has rejected Momade’s candidacy and threatened to attack campaign events, raising fears the presidential, parliamentary and provincial polls could be marred by bloodshed.

The six-week campaign was one of the most violent in the country’s turbulent history, with candidates threatened, election material destroyed, and deadly clashes breaking out between supporters.

The opposition has already accused Frelimo of tampering with the vote.

Enrolment has more than doubled in the southeastern Gaza province, a Frelimo bastion, and civil society groups have expressed concern about the size of the increase.

They also estimate that there are around 300,000 “ghost voters” on electoral rolls — names on the electoral roll not aligned with real, potential voters.

“We definitely have some irregularities that put stains on the whole process,” said Hermenegildo Mulhovo of election monitoring group Sala da Paz.

The situation escalated last week when the head of a local election observation mission was shot dead by members of a special police unit in Gaza’s capital Xai-Xai.

Lutero Simango, an MP of the country’s third-biggest party MDM, accused Frelimo of “using all state means, including police and secret services, to intimidate people”.

Scandals and setbacks

Frelimo suffered its worst result at the ballot box — 51.8 percent — in local elections last year and has been severely weakened in recent years.

In 2016 it was revealed the government secretly borrowed $2 billion, sparking the worst financial crisis in the country’s history and uncovering a vast corruption network with links to the regime.

The government is also battling to recover from two devastating cyclones in March which displaced nearly two million people.

And a shadowy jihadist insurgency that has killed hundreds in the far north has delayed development of one of the government’s biggest selling points — the discovery of vast gas reserves that is hoped to put billions in state coffers and lift millions out of poverty.

The instability has already forced the National Election Commission to close 10 polling booths.

Preliminary results are expected to be announced on Thursday.

AFP

Elections: Our Current Democracy Is Blemished – Ezekwesili

 

Former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, has criticised the nation’s democratic process saying it is blemished.

Ezekwesili, who was a keynote speaker at a lecture to mark the 85th birthday of Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka organized by his Centre for Investigative Journalism, said the process has failed to deliver its desired outcome of the masses.

“Our current democracy is blemished because of its inability to deliver the desired outcome for citizens,” she said on Saturday.

While calling on Nigerians to rise and contribute to the democratic process, she said: “We must all rise to demand a complete rethink of the kind of democratic processes that lead to poor governance.”

Reacting, the Director, Voter Education and Publicity of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi said the Commission has no power to sanction or disqualify perpetrators of electoral violence.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Will Not Rest Until Terrorists Are Completely Decimated – Buhari

Speaking on the theme, “Rethinking Credible Elections, Accountable Democracy and Good Governance in Nigeria,” Osaze-Uzzi believes that the nation’s electoral process can be improved upon.

“Some people blame INEC as an electoral management body that why can’t people be sanctioned? People guilty of violence or sponsoring electoral malpractices, why can’t INEC sanction them and disqualify them? I’m sorry, INEC has no such powers.”

QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About Nigeria’s Democracy?

democracy-day-quiz 

Nigeria’s Democracy Has Witnessed ‘More Positives Than Negatives’ – NGF Chairman

 

 

Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr Kayode Fayemi, has described the 20 years unbroken democracy in Nigeria as positive.

He told Channels Television in an exclusive interview that although the nation has not attained the best of heights, it has recorded a significant improvement.

“I think the balance sheet of democratisation in Nigeria is more positive than negative,” the Ekiti State Governor said.

He added, “Life is not just about positives; its also about negatives and the balance sheet is what makes the difference.”

The NGF chairman said his roles and journey from the military days through the emergence of sustainable democracy put him in a better position to appreciate the value of democracy.

He explained that it is a process, stressing that some developed countries in the world have yet to achieve a perfect democracy.

According to Dr Fayemi, there is no way reversal and challenges will not be encountered by the good news that democracy has continued to improve in in the country.

He urged Nigerians to support the government at all levels in order to leverage and sustain the progress made since 1999 when the nation returned to democratic rule.

“Is it perfect? No, it’s not perfect; but have we made an improvement,” the governor said.

He added, “We have made significant improvement and we can all see those improvements around us, but we can also see challenges around us and that’s what life is about.

“I have a deeper appreciation of when I wasn’t able to come into my own country as a free citizen who is committed to a better Nigeria and now that I have become a player in the process, I’m not suggesting that 20 years of democracy has provided and succeeded in making Nigeria an Eldorado.

“Even in the countries that have matured democracy over centuries, they haven’t succeeded in doing that.”

Military Dissociates Self From Call To Topple Buhari’s Administration

Military Dissociates Self From Call To Topple Buhari’s Administration
President Muhammadu Buhari presides over security meeting with service chiefs at the State House in Abuja on March 5, 2019.

 

The Defence Headquarters has distanced the military from a purported document in circulation, calling for the overthrow of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

It condemned the said document on Tuesday in a statement by the Deputy Director of Defence Information, Navy Captain Muhammed Wabi.

The DHQ stated that the document was sponsored by a group, Nigerian Continuity and Progress (NCP).

According to it, the NCP is calling for support of a revolution to oust the current democratically elected government and in its place establish an illegitimate interim government.

Insisting that it would not be misled into any action that can undermine the nation’s democracy, the DHQ reaffirmed the loyalty of the military to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.

It also called on relevant government agencies to apprehend the sponsors of the document and bring them to book.

Read the full statement below:

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE DEFENCE HEADQUARTERS ON THE CIRCULATION OF SEDITIOUS PUBLICATIONS

The Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) wishes to dissociate itself from the rascality and intentions as espoused in a document being circulated by a faceless group named Nigerian Continuity and Progress (NCP) calling for support of a revolution to oust the current democratically elected government and in its place establish an illegitimate interim government.

The AFN outrightly condemns the undemocratic and demonic actions of the author of the document. Accordingly, members of the public are enjoined to discountenance the content of the documents being circulated by NCP and equally condemned in totality, the call to derail our hard earned democracy.

It should be noted that the AFN is very mindful of its constitutional responsibilities and will not be misled into any act that will undermine democracy as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria1999 as amended.

The AFN remains unflinchingly loyal to the Constitution, as well as to President Muhammadu Buhari, President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Meanwhile, all relevant Law Enforcement Agency have been advised to unravel those behind the seditious document for appropriate actions.

Remain Committed To Democracy, Agbakoba Tells Nigerians

Remain Committed To Democracy, Agbakoba Tells Nigerians
A file photo of Dr Olisa Agbakoba

 

A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr Olisa Agbakoba, has called on Nigerians to remain committed to democracy.

He made the call in a statement on Friday, two days after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the just concluded election.

“I feel strongly called upon to reach out to my brothers and sisters on the state of our democracy,” the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said in the statement.

He added, “Democracy has always been about majority rule and when there is the emergence of an “unpopular choice”, it leaves many people aggrieved and dissatisfied.”

READ ALSOGoing To Tribunal Is ‘Not The Right Decision’, Agbakoba Tells Atiku

According to Agbakoba, the concluded elections which saw some lawmakers retaining their seats and others displaced have given credence to his assertions.

He, thereafter, appealed to Nigerians to join him in the struggle to strengthen democracy in the country for the benefit of its people and the coming generations.

The SAN said, “I strongly believe that there is hope for us as a people and as a nation. We have a collective duty to perfect our democracy so it always produces the popular choice.

“I have worked all my life to enthrone democracy and I am committed to perfecting it.”

“I enjoin us as citizens to continue to hold government accountable and continue to advocate for the strengthening of our institutions, restructuring of our system of governance and upholding of the rule of law. Only then can we make progress as a nation,” he added.

“In the meantime, I leave you with the words of (US) President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “This great nation will endure as it has always endured, our hopes will be revived again and our nation will prosper.”

Nothing Will Deter Nigeria From The Path Of Democracy, Says Buhari

Nothing Will Deter Nigeria From The Path Of Democracy, Says Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the nation on February 22, 2019, ahead of Nigeria’s rescheduled general elections.

 

The President has reaffirmed Nigeria’s resolve to uphold democracy, insisting that the nation would not be deterred from this path.

In a nationwide broadcast ahead of tomorrow’s rescheduled Presidential and National Assembly elections, President Muhammadu Buhari said that although “democracy is the most beneficial way to select a nation’s leaders, it is far from the easiest thing to achieve and maintain.”

He expressed confidence in the ability of Nigerians to make democracy flourish in the country, and thanked the citizens for their patience and peaceful conduct, especially following the postponement of the polls originally scheduled to hold on February 16.

READ ALSOFull Text Of President Buhari’s Broadcast Ahead Of General Elections

 

In the words of the President, “We must cast aside doubt and have faith that INEC will rise to the occasion. We must believe and encourage INEC to fulfill and honour this responsibility it owes to our country.”

He asked eligible voters to take part in defining the future of the nation by going out to vote.

“I say this because elections are the cornerstone of representative governance. And voting constitutes the highest and best expression of the sovereign will of the people to choose the government that best represents them.”

While dismissing the rumours of violence and unrest making the rounds, President Buhari gave the assurance that security agencies have worked diligently to ensure that adequate measures are in place to check breakdown of law and order.

“You will be able to vote in an atmosphere of openness and peace, devoid of fear from threat or intimidation. International and domestic monitors and observers are assured of their safety and freedom of movement needed to perform their important functions,” he said.

He also expressed gratitude to domestic monitors and observers for their contributions to Nigeria’s democracy.

“We appreciate their efforts in encouraging us to further entrench and strengthen our democracy.

“Tomorrow is an encounter with history in which you, the people, shall affirm your collective belief in our national greatness and in our future. I ask that you embrace and hold on to the importance of the moment soon to be upon us,” the President said.

We’ve Really Not Had Political Structures With Ideological Commitment – Kukah

 

Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, believes Nigeria needs to work on its political structures to ensure good governance in the nation.

He gave the opinion during an interview on Roadmap 2019 which aired Monday on Channels Television.

“We have really not had political structures with any form of what you may call ideological commitment,” the bishop said. “Democracy is a work in progress and nation-building, and we are really truly very young in this process.”

He added, “I think that we have sometimes been a bit unfair to ourselves because designing the template, designing the building block, managing an environment of this nature, states not coming out of the reality of people’s existence, has also brought to the fore the difficulties of building democracy.”

We’ve Really Not Had Political Structures With Ideological Commitment – Kukah
Bishop Matthew Kukah speaks during an interview on Roadmap 2019.

 

Kukah blamed the slow pace of democratic development in the country on the successive years consumed by “the locust”, referring to the past military government.

“I am not talking about the military in any disparaging sense,” he stressed.

The cleric explained further, “It’s a measure of how far we have travelled but gone nowhere that even after 20 years of our so-called return to democracy in 1999, we are still in the hands of a retired general and we only had briefly (Goodluck) Jonathan and (Umar) Yar’Adua who never really finished their terms.”

He stated that the nation’s politics would continue to witness a ‘high’ of violence unless certain things were put in place.

Kukah, who is a member of the National Peace Committee led by former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar, urged the leaders to support the system with institutions that would enhance democratic development.

DR Congo Frees 17 Pro-Democracy Activists

 

Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have provisionally freed 17 pro-democracy activists who were arrested in the capital on November 1, one of the group said Monday.

“We have all been free since yesterday (Sunday) and we were granted provisional release,” Gloria Senga, head of the Citizens’ Vigilance (Vigi) movement, told AFP.

“We have been summoned to the public prosecutor’s office on Friday,” she added.

The 17 young activists, mainly students, are accused of “disturbing the peace and civil disobedience” as the vast central African country gears up for general elections on December 23.

Picked up by security forces while fulfilling a mission of “civil and electoral education”, they were jailed in Kinshasa’s central Makala prison, where they went on hunger strike to press for their release.

“They were calling on the Congolese people to vote responsibly, not out of fear,” the group’s lawyer Donald Kabasele told AFP, ahead of the start of the election campaign on Thursday.

The Congolese people will be called to elect a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled in wartime and peace since 2001 and had his mandate prolonged twice for a year.

The lawyer said the activists were not mistreated during their first experience of prison, though overall conditions are “inhuman”.

“In the cell, they couldn’t wash and they had to sleep on the floor.

“Today (Monday), they must see their doctor because the conditions of their detention were out of the ordinary,” the lawyer added.

On November 9, British NGO Freedom from Torture cast a spotlight on the DRC, declaring that the army, police and intelligence services regularly tortured political and human rights activists.

The group’s report titled “A Tool to Silence: Torture to Crush Dissent in the Democratic Republic of Congo” detailed atrocities across the country, which shares its vast mineral wealth with foreign firms but is scarred by persistent and brutal violence in several provinces.

In a report based on testimony and medical evidence from “74 men and women who escaped and fled to safety in the UK”, Freedom from Torture documented “sexual torture, burning, positional torture and electric shocks”.

“Gang rape was common: more than half of those who were raped described multiple perpetrators, while others watched. The rapes were sometimes accompanied by beating, burning and cutting to further punishment or force compliance,” the text added.

Human Right Watch (HRW), based in New York, has also reported on the “frequent use of torture” of people suspected of opposing the regime, along with systematic arrests.

AFP

Daura Must Be Probed, Sack Not Enough – Abubakar Umar

 

A former military governor of Kaduna State, Colonel Abubakar Umar (rtd), has said that the sack of the Director General of the Department for State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, is not enough and therefore insists that the Federal Government must investigate him.

In a statement on Friday, Umar said that he (Daura) might constitute a threat to Nigeria’s democracy if the Federal Government fails to investigate him.

According to the former governor, he had in the last three years of leading the DSS created for himself, “a government within a government in Nigeria”.

He, therefore, stated that the probe should cover the whereabouts, as well as the condition of all the assets handed over to him by the immediate past DG of the DSS, Ita Ekpeyong.

He said: “Without a doubt, the summary dismissal, last week, of Alhaji Lawal Daura, Director-General, Department of State Services, came as a big surprise to many people. It seemed to contradict the world order!

“In the last three years, Lawal Daura had marched from one audacious act of impunity to another; had rudely defied the president, had routinely ignored court orders and seemed all but successful in carving out, for himself, a government within a government in Nigeria.

“There was hardly any observer of the turbulent Nigerian political scene over the last several years who still believed that Lawal Daura was subject to any laws not to speak of official code of behaviour.

“But on Tuesday, the 7th of August, 2018, Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, signed a terse, two-paragraph letter telling Lawal Daura that he has been dismissed from office. Not only that, Professor Osinbajo also ordered Lawal Daura be arrested and remanded in police custody.

“Given all the distress created by the actions of Lawal Daura and those caused through his refusal to act, the decision to sack him did not come a moment too soon.

“And yet, in the interest of our democracy, to guard against unexpected threats and conspiracies, the action taken by the acting president must not stop halfway. The government should seek to discover the motives as well as the explanation for some of those crazy manoeuvres, many of which simply beggars belief,” Umar said.

According to him, some of the areas the former DSS DG should be probed about should include reasons why he allegedly deployed SSS operatives and prevented EFCC personnel from searching the residences of Mr Ekpenyong and former NIA DG, Mr Oke.

Umar also called for an explanation why Daura continuously and in blatant defiance of the president allegedly sent false reports to the Nigerian Senate that frustrated the confirmation of Ibrahim Magu as substantive chairman of the EFCC, among others.

VIDEO: Policymakers, Opinion Leaders, Experts Discuss Nigeria’s Challenges On Channels Forum

Opinion leaders and experts from across the country have converged on the headquarters of Channels Television for the Channels Forum, to discuss major issues in Nigeria and the state of the nation as Nigerians mark Democracy Day.

The Channels Forum is an initiative of Channels Television, aimed at discussing and proffering solutions to the many challenges facing the nation.

Statesmen and experts such as professor of international law and jurisprudence, Professor Akin Oyebode; former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili; Managing Director and CEO of Financial Derivatives Company, Mr Bismark Rewane; as well as the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, are among those that will analyse and proffer solutions to Nigeria’s problems.

Others are Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Ibrahim Magu, Professor of political economy and management expert Pat Utomi, Former NHRC Chairman Professor Chidi Odinkalu and social entrepreneur, Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsuji.

Democracy Day: Fashola Scores Self High In Infrastructural Development

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola

 

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has scored his ministry’s performance high in quality service delivery of infrastructure to Nigerians.

Fashola stated this during an interview on Channels Television on his ministry’s performance to mark the third anniversary of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration on Tuesday.

“We have delivered and continue to deliver on own our action point,” he said. “Our own action point is infrastructure, road transport network, increased energy supply.”

Citing the 2017 Electricity report released by the National Bureau of Statistics, the Minister stated that the nation’s electricity had recorded improvement.

He added, “If you look at the National Bureau of Statistics report from 2017, constantly power sector (electricity) has been growing.

“We also impacted, by extension, on the diversification plan of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) itself to create new economies in mining and agriculture.”

Fashola also lauded the cooperation that exists between his ministry and the Ministry of Mines and Steels Development.

The relationship, he stated, had led to efficiency in output delivery system in conveying the nation’s mineral resources to the target market.

He also reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to delivering its mandate to the electorates.