Mali Votes Amid Coronavirus, Security Fears

A Malian woman holds a polling paper during a meeting for the campaign of the parliamentary elections in Bamako on March 23, 2020. MICHELE CATTANI / AFP

 

 

Malians headed to the polls on Sunday for a long-delayed parliamentary election just hours after the country recorded its first coronavirus death and with the leading opposition figure kidnapped and believed to be in the hands of jihadists.

There were security fears about the vote even before the war-torn West African country recorded its first coronavirus infection on Wednesday.

Some 200,000 people displaced by the near-daily violence in Mali’s centre and north will not be able to vote, because “no mechanism has been established” for them to do so, a government official said.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Coronavirus Cases Rise To 97 As NCDC Confirms Eight More Infections

There were also fears that the impoverished state of some 19 million people — where large swathes of territory lie outside state control — is particularly exposed to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Late Saturday, just hours before polls were scheduled to open at 0800 GMT Sunday, the country’s first coronavirus death was announced, with the number of infections rising to 18.

The poll will see new MPs elected to the 147-seat National Assembly for the first time since 2013 when President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s Rally for Mali party won a substantial majority.

Parliamentary elections were meant to take place again in late 2018 following Keita’s re-election, but the poll was postponed several times, largely due to security concerns.

After Sunday’s first-round vote, a second round is scheduled for April 19.

 

– ‘Difficult times’ –

Casting a shadow over the vote is the fate of veteran opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, who was kidnapped on Wednesday while campaigning in the centre of the country.

Cisse, 70, who has been runner-up in three presidential elections, and six members of his team were abducted in an attack in which his bodyguard was killed.

He was “likely” being held by jihadists loyal to Fulani preacher Amadou Koufa, who leads a branch of the al-Qaeda-aligned GSIM active in the Sahel, according to a security source and a local official.

Cisse and his entourage were probably now “far from where they were abducted,” the security source told AFP.

The government’s election spokesman, Amini Belko Maiga, has admitted that voting conditions were not ideal.

“It’s true that we cannot say that everything is perfect, but we’re doing the maximum,” he said, referring to the threat of coronavirus.

He added that hand-washing kits had been distributed in the countryside, while in the capital Bamako, authorities would make masks and hand sanitisers available.

Cisse’s Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD) on Saturday urged its supporters to turn out in even greater numbers.

“In these difficult times our country is going through, more than ever, the party’s activists are resolutely urged to redouble their efforts for massive participation in the March 29, 2020 elections,” the country’s main opposition party said.

However several other opposition parties called for the vote to be postponed due to coronavirus fears.

 

– Hopes for peace –

The country has been plagued by conflict since 2012 when rebels captured much of the country’s arid north.

Jihadists overtook the rebels in the north and swept into the country’s centre, accelerating a conflict which has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians.

Despite the numerous difficulties, experts nonetheless hope that Sunday’s election will lead to reforms that might drag Mali out of its cycle of violence.

In particular, the hope is that the new parliament will implement reforms from a peace agreement brokered between the Bamako government and several armed groups, in Algiers in 2015.

Implementation has been painfully slow, although this year saw the Malian army deploy units made up of both former rebels and regulars, one the provisions of the Algiers agreement.

The pact also provides for the decentralisation of governance in Mali, a demand of some of the rebel groups.

AFP

I Will Be Surprised If My Opponent Heads To Supreme Court – Senator Ubah

A file photo of Senator Ifeanyi Ubah.

 

The Senator representing Anambra South district in the National Assembly, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, says he will be surprised if his opponent, Mr. Obinna Uzoh of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) heads to the Supreme Court over his election victory.

Ubah’s comments on Thursday follow the Appeal Court ruling which set aside a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court judgment sacking him as the lawmaker representing the region.

In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Stephen Adah, the court held that the FCT High Court acted outside its jurisdiction to entertain a matter that arose in Anambra state.

But appearing during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Ubah said he doesn’t think anyone can appeal a verdict given by an appellant court.

“I will be very surprised if they challenge what was given. You need to give me some time so that they (my lawyers) can look at the judgment.

“I don’t think, to my best knowledge, that it is appealable. But if they go to the Supreme Court, I’m more than ready,” he said.

READ ALSO: Buhari Receives Senate President, Yobe Governor In Abuja

Speaking further, Ubah alleged that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been working hard to oust him from office.

According to him, he is the only Senator in the country that has faced two opponents in a tribunal shortly after the general elections.

“I have passed through serious hurdles; I am the only Senator in Nigeria that faced the tribunal with two opponents – from the PDP and the APC,” he said.

“With the court victory in the tribunal, we went to the Appeal Court in Enugu with court victory. They have done everything possible to take me out of my seat. And at the same time, they are working in conjunction with so many parties.

“At the end of the day, touch not His anointed and do his prophet no harm. One with God is a majority. So we are working, I need now to concentrate and give value to those who have elected me,” he said.

Zamfara Election Review: Mind Your Business, APC Warns PDP

Ex-Adamawa Deputy Governor Tahir Dumps PDP For APC

 

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has warned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to mind its business as the Supreme Court has reserved judgment on the review of the Zamfara State governorship election.

APC in a statement on Wednesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the PDP “has no business in this matter as it is clearly an intra-party affair in which the All Progressives Congress (APC) is asking the Apex Court to review its judgment.”

While asking the main opposition party not to interfere with the apex court’s decision, Issa-Onilu recalled that the ruling party had disagreed with its primaries conducted last year in Zamfara.

According to him, the party’s victory in the governorship election was quashed when an APC member instituted a court case.

READ ALSO: Zamfara Election: Supreme Court Reserves Judgement On APC’s Application

Speaking further, he said: “It is an established fact that the Supreme Court had earlier declared that they can only review their judgement to correct errors. So, we wonder why the PDP is shivering over this matter as if they are aware there could be an error.

“Our suspicion is supported by the PDP’s well-known crooked tactic of always crying wolf when they perceive that the rule of law rather than impunity is about to take effect.

“Let it be known that the Justices of the Supreme Court have never lacked the courage to act rightly even in the face of the PDP’s usual intimidation and blackmail.”

Issa-Onilu, therefore, said it is “irresponsible of the PDP to raise infantile accusation against the Supreme Court and our party. On this matter, PDP is an interloper and a shameless busybody.”

His remarks come hours after the PDP raised serious concern over the decision of the apex court to reserve judgement on the election matter.

Speaking at a news conference in Abuja, the PDP spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan said the decision of the Supreme Court to reserve judgement is not in tandem with its established practice.

Ologbondiyan alleged that the vacuum created by the apex Court could be exploited to manipulate the judgement in favour of the ruling party.

There’s Evidence Army, DSS Intimidated Voters, Electoral Officials And Election Observers – US

 

A report by the United States Government suggests that security operatives in Nigeria intimidated voters, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission and even election observers during the 2019 general elections.

In its 2019 country reports on human rights practices, the US Department of State noted that the elections in Nigeria within the year under review were marred by violence and practices which did not encourage enough voter participation in the electoral exercise.

“There was evidence military and security services intimidated voters, electoral officials, and election observers. In addition violence in several states contributed to lower voter participation and added to the sentiment the army is a tool of the ruling party in many parts of the country, particularly in the South.

“For example, widespread violence and military involvement in electoral processes, including during the vote collation process, significantly scarred the governorship election in Rivers State. Additionally several of INEC’s resident electoral commissioners (RECs) reported DSS operatives intimidated them when the RECs attempted to protect voting materials.

“Some RECs reported security service personnel visited them multiple times prior to the elections. Press reported certain RECs claimed the DSS was surveilling the RECs and that they had been brought to DSS offices for questioning,” the report partly read.

READ ALS:  Those Calling For Oshiomhole’s Removal Will Fail – Uzodinma

It further stated that there were reports that corruption including vote-buying were historically high during the 2018-19 electoral season.

The report cited events in Osun and Kano as examples of places where vote-buying took place.

The Department of State further stated in its report that the Nigerian judiciary was still susceptible to intimidation by the executive and the legislative arms of government, adding that there was corruption in the judiciary, which made it not to be able to function independently.

According to the 46-page report, court officials in Nigeria are poorly paid thereby making them susceptible to manipulation.

“Although the constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, the judicial branch remained susceptible to pressure from the executive and legislative branches. Political leaders influenced the judiciary, particularly at the state and local levels.

“Understaffing, underfunding, inefficiency, and corruption prevented the judiciary from functioning adequately. There are no continuing education requirements for attorneys, and police officers were often assigned to serve as prosecutors. Judges frequently failed to appear for trials. In addition, the salaries of court officials were low, and they often lacked proper equipment and training.”

Staying on the judiciary issue, the US Department of State in its communique said there was a widespread public perception that judges were easily bribed and litigants could not rely on the courts to render impartial judgments.

According to the report, citizens encountered long delays and received requests from judicial officials for bribes to expedite cases or obtain favorable rulings.

“Although the Ministry of Justice implemented strict requirements for education and length of service for judges at the federal and state levels, no requirements or monitoring bodies existed for judges at the local level. This contributed to corruption and the miscarriage of justice in local courts,” the report partly read.

PHOTOS: Niger Rerun Election Witnesses Large Turnout, Peaceful Atmosphere

A woman casts her vote in the rerun election into the Magama/Rijau Federal constituency of Niger State on March 14, 2020.

 

The rerun election into the Magama/Rijau Federal Constituency commenced in a peaceful atmosphere in the two local government areas of Niger State on Saturday.

Three parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC), the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – fielded candidates for the election.

Channels Television observed a large turnout of voters in some of the polling units visited.

READ ALSO: Those Calling For Oshiomhole’s Removal Will Fail – Uzodinma

Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Adamu Usman, led a joint security force to ensure there is no breakdown of law and order.

The seat of Magama/Rijau Federal Constituency in Niger state was declared vacant by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamiala following the death of the member representing the constituency, Ja’afaru Iliyasu on December 2.

See Photos Below:

Lawan Advocates Stiff Punishment For Election Rigging, Ballot Snatching

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate.

 

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday advocated stiff penalties for electoral offences such as rigging and ballot snatching.

Lawan made this known in his concluding remarks after the Senate considered a bill that seeks to establish the Electoral Offences Commission.

According to the Senate President, the move to establish the Commission was in line with the legislative agenda of the Ninth National Assembly in sanitising Nigeria’s electoral process.

He said, “It is in pursuit of our legislative agenda at ensuring that we sanitise the electoral environment in the right direction.

“So, this bill is one of many that requires we amend the Electoral Act. Even Constitutional amendments and alterations will be made to that effect to ensure that the electoral processes and procedures are very well protected, that we stop people from abusing the process because they are in power, or because they have money.”

“I agree that the penalties must be punitive enough to make people not to indulge in electoral offenses,” Lawan added.

Earlier, sponsor of the Electoral Offences Commission Bill, Senator Abubakar Shaib Kyari (APC–Borno North), in his lead debate, expressed concern that “Electoral crimes lead to low quality, corrupt and violent political leadership.

“Electoral crimes help election riggers and offenders take control of governments against the democratic will of the electorates.”

According to the lawmaker, electoral offences give birth to political apathy that forces the electorates to shun political processes.

Kyari warned, “Political violence precipitates vicious cycles of political instability and national insecurity.

“Election corruption leads to avoidable waste of public resources and threaten National development in social-political and economic contexts.”

“Civil disturbances and violence resulting from manipulated elections strain otherwise harmonious communal relationships with adverse effects on national cohesion, peace and security; because rigged elections throw up political schemes that are not conducive for businesses, the national economy decays from declining Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), declining Gross Domestic Product (GDP), increasing unemployment, and General fall in the volumes of both local and global commerce,” he added.

Lending his voice to the debate, Senator Rochas Okorocha (APC – Imo West) advocated stiffer penalties and sanctions to serve as checks against electoral offenses such as rigging by officials of the electoral body.

Another lawmaker, Smart Adeyemi (APC– Kogi West) called for the establishment of a special court for electoral offences, saying, “I think we must look at the possibility of having a special court for electoral offences.”

Senator George Thompson Sekibo (PDP – Rivers East) said the establishment of an Electoral Offences Commission was long overdue.

According to the lawmaker, the 2023 General Elections will be marred with electoral violence like never witnessed before, should the National Assembly fail to pass the bill into law.

He, therefore, threw his weight behind the establishment of a tribunal alongside the proposed Commission.

“This request is long overdue. If we achieve this, we will be able to deepen our democracy. If we don’t achieve this, then 2023 will be worse.

“Electoral Act has many of these provisions, but the problem is who will implement it?

“We need the Commission, we also need the tribunal. Let it be surplus than having none.

“When it is passed, it should be assented to. If they don’t assent to it, then 2023 will be more than war,” Sekibo warned.

Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP – Edo South) said, “There is no amount of amendment to our electoral act devoid of the establishment of an institution for the purpose of punishing electoral offenses that will achieve any result.

“Anybody who commits, including political parties who commits electoral corruption, must be dealt with ruthlessly.”

Senator Francis Fadahunsi (PDP – Osun East), in his contribution, said the responsibility of realizing a credible electoral system is one that begins with politicians.

He said unless politicians agree to have a sanitized electoral process in Nigeria, no amount of commission established will change the frequency of electoral offenses in the country.

Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa (APC – Bauchi North), while speaking in support of the establishment of the commission, said there is need to establish a special court so as to reduce congestion that may arise as a result of the number of petitions and electoral offenses that would go before the commission.

Senator Uche Ekwunife (PDP – Anambra Central) said, “For this act to work, it behoves on us the politicians.

“We are still the people that will make the environment conducive. If we follow the way we are doing elections in this country, there will be no democracy.”

The Electoral Offences Commission Bill, which scaled second reading debate on the floor, was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for further legislative work.

The Committee which is Chaired by Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC – Kano South) is expected to submit its report on the bill in four weeks.

Imo Election: PDP Accuses Supreme Court Of Endorsing Electoral Fraud

PDP Hails Supreme Court Ruling On Zamfara Election

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the verdict of the Supreme Court on the review of its judgment on the Imo state governorship election.

It faulted the judgement of the apex court in a statement on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan.

The court had dismissed the application filed by the PDP candidate, Emeka Ihedioha, seeking a review of its judgement which removed him from office after about 10 months.

Ihedioha faulted the declaration of Hope Uzodinma as the Imo State governor and asked the court to return him back into office.

But the application was dismissed in a majority judgement of a seven-man panel of judges led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad.

Six of the judges on the panel agreed with the apex court’s verdict while Justice Chima Nweze gave a dissenting judgment, stressing that the decision ought to be reviewed.

 

Electoral Fraud

In its reaction, the PDP described the judgement as “a disconcerting endorsement of electoral fraud,” saying it has placed a huge burden on the court and the justices.

It, however, noted that Justice Nweze’s judgment presented a glimpse of hope for the nation’s judiciary.

The statement said, “Our party abides completely by every word of the judgment of Justice Nweze as treated facts, which are truly sacred.

“Justice Nweze’s pronouncement, which went straight into the substance of our application represents a universal view about the travesty of justice that occurred in the Imo state governorship election judgment.

“It is indeed unfortunate that the Supreme Court had the wholesome opportunity to redeem itself and correct its errors but chose to hide behind technicality to justify and endorse an electoral fraud.”

According to the opposition party, Nigerians expected the Supreme Court correct the errors purportedly made earlier and handed over victory to the supposed rightful winner.

It alleged that the court failed to summon the courage to affirm its infallibility but upheld and legalise the writing of election results by individual contestants against the will of the people as expressed at the poll.

The PDP called on all election stakeholders to rally to create remedies for what it described as a pathetic situation before the nation’s entire electoral process became vanquished.

“This judgment will continue to haunt the Supreme Court. It has created a burden of precedence and fallibility on the court.

“More distressing is the fact that the judgment has heavily detracted from the confidence Nigerians and the international community reposed on the Supreme Court and our entire jurisprudence,” the statement added.

Togo Election: Opposition Leader Challenges Result In Court

Agbeyomé Kodjo, Former Togolese Prime Minister and Presidential candidate of Movements of Patriots for Democracy and Development (MPDD), address supporters during a campaign rally in Kpalime in Togo, on February 19, 2020.  PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

Togolese opposition leader Agbeyome Kodjo said Wednesday he has filed a suit to overturn the result of presidential elections in which he placed a distant second to incumbent Faure Gnassingbe.

“I filed a petition to the Constitutional Court on Tuesday evening,” he told AFP.

“We expect the court to annul the false results published by CENI,” the Independent National Electoral Commission, he said.

Kodjo, a former prime minister, won 18.37 per cent of the vote on Saturday and Gnassingbe 72.36 per cent, according to preliminary official results. Turnout was put at 76 per cent.

The win, which had been widely expected, extended more than a half-century of dynastic rule over the former French colony by the Gnassingbe family.

The opposition alleged widespread fraud including ballot stuffing and the use of fake polling stations to skew the outcome in Gnassingbe’s favour.

Some 300 international observers were deployed, mainly from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), many of whose members supported Gnassingbe.

The ECOWAS observers on Monday urged the candidates to “respect the results that have emerged from the ballot boxes and have been declared by the institutions” and resort to the courts to resolve any grievances.

The AU called on the Togolese public to “continue to work to preserve peace and stability, in order to consolidate democracy and the state of law.”

Gnassingbe, 53, took the helm in 2005 after the death of his strongman father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who seized power in a coup in 1967.

The small West African state has a poverty rate of around 50 per cent and is ranked 167th of 189 countries on the UN’s human development index.

AFP

Bayelsa Election: Supreme Court Judgement Is The Hand Of God, Says PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has reacted to the Supreme Court judgment that sacked the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa state, David Lyon and his deputy, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo.

PDP National Vice Chairman (South-South), Emmanuel Ogidi, said the February 13 verdict that declared its candidate, Duoye Diri the winner of the election is the handiwork of God.

Speaking on Wednesday during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Ogidi said: “It is the hand of God. Everything we do is the hand of God because you are holding the power on behalf of God.

“The position of the governor of a state has the power of life and death because once a judge passes judgment, it is the governor that will sign. Yes, we as politicians we play everything, we do everything by the rules. We go for elections; we go for elections, but it is God that decides who will win.”

READ ALSO: Supreme Court Dismisses Lyon And APC’s Application For Lacking In Merit

When asked if it was God that rejected the APC and ordained his party, the PDP chieftain neither spoke for or against the question.

PDP National Vice Chairman (South South), Emmanuel Ogidi

He simply replied saying: “I just said God gave us victory, I would like to stop there.”

Ogidi’s comments come shortly after the Apex Court on Wednesday dismissed an application for a review of the February 13 judgment.

In her ruling today, Justice Amina Augie said the application lacked merit and the decisions of the court are final.

She added that the applicants failed to point out errors, stating that the judgment is final for all ages.

The apex court judge said the judgment is final in the ‘real sense’ and no court on earth can review the judgment.

“There must be an end to litigation even if we review this judgment, every disaffected litigant will bring similar applications and the finality of Supreme Court judgments will be lost.”

Togo Goes To Polls As President Seeks Likely Fourth Term

An usher holds an example of a ballot paper with a fingerprint marked next to the picture of Togolese President and presidential candidate of the ruling Union for the Republic (UNIR) party Faure Gnassingbe during a campaign rally in Dapaong, 
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

Togo went to the polls Saturday in an election widely expected to see President Faure Gnassingbe claim a fourth term in power and extend his family’s half-century domination of the West African nation. 

The incumbent, 53, has led the country of eight million since 2005 following the death of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled with an iron fist for 38 years.

In Lome, some voters were out early to cast their vote in the hope the election may bring much-needed change.

“We suffer too much in Togo, this time it has to change,” said Eric, a driver in his 30s, near a voting centre.

“I am not going to tell you who I will vote for, but this time we don’t want to be cheated of victory,” he said, adding that he would return in the evening to watch over the counting after polls close at 1600 GMT.

READ ALSO: Libyan Commander Ready To Fight Turkish Forces If Peace Talks Fail

Elsewhere, ruling party supporter Balakebawi Agbang urged people “to turn out in force to make the right choice” so the government can continue its work.

The authorities faced major protests in 2017 and 2018 demanding an end to five decades of a dynastic rule that have failed to lift many out of poverty.

But the demonstrations petered out in the face of government repression and squabbles among the opposition.

Last year, Gnassingbe pushed through constitutional changes allowing him to run again — and potentially remain in office until 2030.

The current president has sought to distance himself from his father but his regime still maintains a stranglehold over the country and its financial resources.

“I don’t feel like a dictator,” Gnassingbe told AFP in an interview.

Critics insist the vote will not be free and fair and the authorities have banned a civil society coalition and the Catholic Church from fielding observers.

The president is hoping to win a resounding victory in the first round but turnout could be low if opposition supporters stay away, as many have said they will.

Results are expected in the coming days.

Stability and security are central to Gnassingbe’s message as Togo eyes the jihadist violence rocking its neighbour Burkina Faso to the north.

The country has so far managed to prevent the bloodshed spilling over and its army and intelligence service are among the most effective in the region.

The president has also made a major play of a programme that aims to provide the entire population with power by 2030 and is pledging to create 500,000 jobs for young people.

But after 53 years of his family’s rule, the country still remains deeply impoverished.

The World Bank says that around half of the population live on under $1.90 (1.76 euros) per day.

Even so, the six challengers lining up against Gnassingbe face a mammoth task to persuade the 3.6 million registered voters to oust him.

Veteran candidate Jean-Pierre Fabre came second at the last two elections but the 67-year old has failed to keep the opposition united.

Agbeyome Kodjo, who served as prime minister under Gnassingbe’s father, is seen as a potential dark horse after winning the backing of an influential Catholic archbishop.

One name not on the ballot is Tikpi Atchadam, a politician from second city Sokode who shot to prominence in 2017 at the head of anti-government protests.

But he fled Togo for Ghana in the face of a crackdown by the authorities on his supporters and has seen his influence dwindle.

AFP

Modi Concedes Defeat In Key New Delhi Election

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a rally in New Delhi on December 22, 2019. 
Prakash SINGH / AFP

 

Followers of an upstart Indian political party danced in the streets Tuesday after inflicting a crushing defeat on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing party in a key election in the capital. 

The poll was the first electoral test for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party after it passed a controversial nationality law which opponents say is anti-Muslim.

Aam Aadmi Party supporters cavorted to bhangra music and set off fireworks as the vote count showed they had crossed the 36 seats needed to secure a majority in the 70-seat regional assembly.

Hindu-nationalist Modi, whose party swept to power in national elections last year, congratulated AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, the incumbent Delhi chief minister.

“Wishing them the very best in fulfilling the aspirations of the people of Delhi,” Modi tweeted.

The BJP had launched an aggressive campaign to win the city of nearly 20 million people from the AAP, using the election to rally support for the law easing citizenship rules for religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but excluding Muslims.

At least 25 people have been killed in protests over the legislation so far.

But the AAP, which swept to power in 2015 after it was launched three years earlier by former tax officer Kejriwal, retained control in an impressive showing.

The defeat in Delhi is the latest in a string of setbacks for the BJP at regional elections over the past two years.

Kejriwal, 51, fought the election on local issues such as subsidised water and electricity, as well as the safety of women.

“This win has given birth to a new type of politics — the politics of work,” he told cheering supporters at party headquarters.

“This is the type of politics that will take the country forward in the 21st century.”

Yogendra Yadav, an academic who was a member of the AAP executive until 2015 and now has his own party, said the result was a clear rejection of Modi and his party’s angry campaign.

“The BJP indulged in one of the most vitriolic, communal hate-mongering campaigns as a desperate electoral gamble,” he told AFP.

“If this succeeded, it would have become a template for everyone else to follow.

Congress, led by the storied Gandhi-Nehru dynasty and the main opposition at the national level, was set to draw a blank in another low for a party that ruled Delhi for 15 years before AAP took over.

Final results from the Election Commission of India were not expected until late Tuesday.

AFP

Israel Top Court Allows Arab Lawmaker To Contest Elections

A picture of an Israeli flag,
A picture of an Israeli flag,

 

Israel’s supreme court on Sunday overturned a decision by the country’s elections body to disqualify an Arab lawmaker from running in March elections after accusations she supported “terrorists”.

The central elections committee in January invalidated the candidacy of Heba Yazbak, a member of the Arab Joint List.

Yazbak is a member of the Arab nationalist group Balad and has been in the Knesset since last April’s polls.

A petition alleged she supported armed struggle against Israel and had praised militants who killed Israelis.

Yazbak was targeted in particular over a Facebook post in support of Samir Kantar, a member of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah who was convicted of murdering three Israelis, including a four-year-old girl, in 1979.

“There was no ‘critical mass’ of formal evidence to justify disqualifying her,” said the supreme court, which took into account “remorse” expressed by Yazbak.

Members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party had joined forces with the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu in the petition to disqualify Yazbak.

The two parties seek the disqualification of parties which challenge the Jewish character of Israel or which support armed opposition to the Jewish state.

“Those who want Heba in the opposition and not in government must vote only for Likud,” the Likud party wrote on Twitter after the court’s decision was announced.

Israel’s top court barred two members of the extreme-right party Jewish Power from running in the September 2019 elections over “incitement to racism.”

The March 2 polls are Israel’s third in less than a year, after national polls in April and September failed to yield a governing coalition.

Netanyahu’s right wing Likud party was deadlocked with centrist Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party in both the 2019 elections.