China Slams US For Congratulating Tsai On Taiwan Poll Win

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (C) waves to supporters outside her campaign headquarters in Taipei on January 11, 2020.  Sam Yeh / AFP

 

China on Sunday slammed officials from the US and other countries for congratulating Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen after she was re-elected with a landslide victory in a stunning rebuke of Beijing’s campaign to isolate the self-ruled island.

Tsai, who had pitched herself as a defender of liberal democratic values against an increasingly authoritarian China, secured a record-breaking win in Saturday’s presidential election.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as top diplomats from Britain and Japan, issued statements congratulating Tsai and the island’s democratic elections.

But Beijing, which views Taiwan as part of its territory, denounced their actions as violating the one-China principle.

“The Chinese side expresses strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to this,” said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

“We oppose any form of official exchange between Taiwan and countries that have established diplomatic relations with China,” he said in a statement.

Chinese state media also sought to downplay Tsai’s victory and cast doubt on the legitimacy of her campaign by accusing the Taiwanese leader of “dirty tactics” and cheating.

Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) used “dirty tactics such as cheating, repression and intimidation to get votes, fully exposing their selfish, greedy and evil nature”, said official news agency Xinhua in an op-ed Sunday.

Xinhua also accused Tsai of buying votes, and said “external dark forces” were partly responsible for the election results.

Beijing, which has vowed to one day take Taiwan — by force if necessary — loathes Tsai because she refuses to acknowledge the idea that Taiwan is part of “one China”.

China doubled down on its “one-China principle” after Tsai’s victory, with Geng emphasising Sunday that “regardless of what happens in Taiwan, the basic facts won’t change: there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China”.

“The Chinese government’s position won’t change,” he added in a statement.

‘Orchestrating tensions’

Over the last four years, Beijing has ramped up economic, military and diplomatic pressure on the island, hoping it would scare voters into supporting Tsai’s opposition.

But the strong-arm tactics have backfired and voters flocked to Tsai’s DPP, fuelled in part by China’s hardline response to months of huge and violent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Chinese state media have accused Tsai, who frequently invokes Hong Kong’s protests as a warning about a Beijing-controlled Taiwan, of fear-mongering.

Tsai and her party are “orchestrating tensions”, wrote the nationalistic Global Times on Saturday.

At the end of 2019, the Taiwanese leader “wantonly hyped up the so-called threat from the Chinese mainland while slandering Han Kuo-yu’s mainland connections”, it said, referring to her Beijing-friendly main opponent from the Kuomintang party.

Chinese state media also dismissed Saturday’s election results as an anomaly in long-term ties between Taiwan and the mainland, with Xinhua describing Tsai’s win as a “fluke”.

“The fact that the Chinese mainland is getting increasingly stronger and the Taiwan island is getting weaker is an inevitable reality,” added the Global Times.

“Recognising and complying with the reality is the only feasible option for Taiwan’s peaceful development.”

AFP

Over 16,000 Complaints Filed In Afghan Presidential Polls

 

More than 16,000 complaints have been filed to Afghan election authorities over the handling of this year’s presidential polls, officials said Thursday, days after preliminary results put President Ashraf Ghani in place to secure a second term.

Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced earlier this week that Ghani had won a slim 50.64 percent majority in the September 28 poll.

The final results are expected to be announced in the coming weeks after the complaints have been reviewed.

“(Officials) have 15 days to finalise its investigation into the complaints and release the results to the candidates,” said Zuhra Bayan Shinwari, head of the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), adding that 16,500 complaints were received in total.

If the numbers hold following these investigations, the result is enough for Ghani to avoid a run-off, after he easily beat his long-time rival Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who scored 39.52 percent.

According to Shinwari, Abdullah’s team filed around 8,000 complaints to the ECC and Ghani handed in over 3,000, while the rest were submitted by other candidates.

Preliminary results originally due October 19 were repeatedly delayed for what the IEC said were technical issues. Various candidates, particularly Abdullah, alleged fraud.

Observers and candidates have blasted the IEC over its handling of the count and its repeated disregard of the electoral calendar.

The election was meant to be the cleanest yet in Afghanistan’s young democracy.

A German firm supplied biometric machines to stop people from voting more than once.

But allegations of vote stuffing, illegal balloting and other fraud came almost as soon as the polls had closed.

Nearly one million of the initial 2.7 million votes were purged owing to irregularities, meaning the election saw by far the lowest turnout of any Afghan poll.

Ultimately, only 1.8 million votes were counted — a tiny number given Afghanistan’s estimated population of 37 million and a total of 9.6 million registered voters.

Abdullah lost to Ghani in 2014 in a divisive election that saw the US intervene to broker an awkward power-sharing deal between the two rivals.

Protesters Storm Polling Station In Algeria

Algerian security forces surround protesters staging an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on December 12, 2019 on the day of the presidential election.  AFP

 

Algerian anti-government protesters stormed a polling station in central Algiers on Thursday, forcing a half-hour suspension of voting there, an AFP journalist witnessed.

The North African country is holding a presidential election meant to end a months-long political crisis, but the poll has been marred by new mass protests and attempts to disrupt voting.

AFP

Cameroon Opposition Says Party To Boycott Legislative Poll

In this file photo taken on October 5, 2019, Cameroonian opposition leader Maurice Kamto is greeted and acclaimed by hundreds of supporters in Yaounde after his release from prison. The United States on November 19, 2019, urged Cameroon to devolve power in its troubled anglophone region, saying the government’s military response was only strengthening separatists. Nagy told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee. STRINGER / AFP

 

Cameroon’s main opposition figure, Maurice Kamto, on Monday said his party would boycott the country’s legislative and municipal elections on February 9.

Kamto said the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC) would not take part in the vote.

“The MRC,” he added, “calls on Cameroonians not to go out and vote and to stay at home on February 9, 2020, to avoid giving credibility to elections which will not restore peace in our country.”

Kamto, 65, was arrested in late January after months of peaceful protests over the disputed results of an October 2018 presidential election.

The ballot was won by President Paul Biya, who has ruled the Central African state with an iron fist for 37 years.

Kamto went on trial with dozens of others in a military court in September on charges of insurrection, hostility to the motherland and rebellion.

He was freed in October after a military court ordered his release at Biya’s behest, a move seen as a surprise conciliatory gesture by the veteran president.

Guinea-Bissau Presidential Poll Ends Amid Electoral Fraud Claims

People sit as they wait for the opening of the polling stations in Bissau early on November 24, 2019, prior to voting as part of the presidential election in Guinea-Bissau. Some 700,000 voters are registered for the November 24 poll, with indicative results due early next week. 
JOHN WESSELS / AFP

 

Guinea-Bissau’s presidential election ended in confusion on Sunday after the incumbent’s team accused opponents of ballot stuffing, and street scuffles erupted in the coup-prone West African state.

The vote capped four years of political chaos under President Jose Mario Vaz, who repeatedly sacked prime ministers and clashed with the parliament.

Despite earlier promising to accept the results, Vaz’s team accused his long-time rivals of electoral fraud and appeared to reject the poll.

Botche Cande, his campaign manager, told reporters that fraud had occurred “with the complicity of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde” (PAIGC).

Vaz and the PAIGC, which is the largest party in parliament, have been at loggerheads since 2015 over who should lead the government. The dispute has mired the country in political deadlock.

Cande said a member of the PAIGC’s youth wing was caught handing out rice and money in exchange for votes and was surprised “with an envelope full of ballots”.

“Under such conditions, president Vaz will not accept tainted results,” he added.

The PAIGC has yet to respond to the allegations.

Guinea-Bissau has known little but military coups and political assassinations since independence from Portugal in 1974. Vaz is the first president in 25 years to have been neither ousted nor killed.

Domingos Simoes Pereira, who heads the PAIGC and is also a presidential candidate, has promised to respect the election results. As has the country’s all-powerful military.

While voting on Sunday morning began calmly, security officials who declined to be named told AFP that fights between rival political camps had broken out in several places around the country.

Polls closed 1700 GMT and provisional results are expected in the next 72 hours.

‘Corruption In Every Ministry’

Twelve candidates — all men — sought to convince voters that they could restore stability, improve scant public services and tackle the dire economy.

Guinea-Bissau ranks 177th out of 189 in the United Nations Human Development Index, and two-thirds of the population live on less than $2 (1.8 euros) a day.

Experts argue the 1.8 million populations also have to contend with a political elite that has systematically looted the country’s wealth.

Latin American drug runners have capitalised on chronic instability to implant themselves, using Guinea-Bissau as a transit point to Europe. Senior military and government figures have been implicated in the trade.

“There is corruption in every ministry,” student Wazu Sambu, 24, told AFP before the vote, calling graft the “first cause” of the country’s problems.

Electoral frontrunners such as Vaz and Pereira promised to tackle corruption during the election campaign.

Leadership Crisis

Vaz came to power in 2014 on hopes that he would restore normality after a coup two years prior.

But his presidency has been overshadowed by the paralysing conflict with the PAIGC, which has its roots in the fight to end Portuguese rule.

The crisis began in 2015 when Vaz sacked then prime minister Pereira after a falling-out, triggering a stand-off that has lasted ever since.

The PAIGC won parliamentary elections in March.

In October Vaz sacked another prime minister, which sparked fears of a return to violence when he refused to step down.

The Economic Community of West African States, which has a small peacekeeping force in Guinea-Bissau, condemned the sacking and warned of “risks of civil war”.

Vaz is now running as an independent after being expelled from the PAIGC.

Neighbouring countries fear the political deadlock could continue after the election if a non-PAIGC candidate wins, which would set him on a collision course with parliament.

AFP

Governorship Polls: Protect Your Votes, PDP Tells Kogites, Bayelsans

Spokesman to the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan

 

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the people of Kogi and Bayelsa state to remain at alert, resist all undemocratic brigand elements and take all legitimate steps to protect their votes to the very end.

In a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the party also charged INEC and security forces to ensure that nothing happens to the ballots at every level and that results reflect only the will of the people as expressed at the polling units.

The PDP cautioned that the people already know how they voted and already know the outcome of the polls at their respective polling units, and as such, they will never accept any alternation of results at the collation level.

READ ALSO: Sporadic Violence As Nigerians Vote In State Elections

The party also called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and the military high command to be patriotic by taking measures to assist and protect the people, in their quest to protect their votes.

The PDP charged security forces to check the agents of the ruling party in Kogi State, who the PDP claims are moving around collation centers with armed hoodlums to compromise security personnel, shooting and disrupting collation processes in their desperation to subvert the aspiration of the people.

“The IGP should, therefore, beef up security at the collation centers to ensure that only legitimate votes count. This is because any result that does not reflect the will of the people will surely not be accepted,” the PDP stated.

Tanzania’s Opposition To Boycott Elections Over ‘Cheating’

 

Tanzania’s opposition party says it will boycott local elections later this month, accusing the government of impeding its candidates from running and making a mockery of democratic processes.

Chadema, the main opposition outfit that has faced increasing hostility under President John Magufuli, made the announcement late Thursday following an extraordinary meeting of its leadership.

“Our party believes it is wiser not to support such electoral cheating. To continue to participate in elections of this kind is to legitimise illegality,” said Chadema president Freeman Mbowe.

Selemani Jafo, the minister for local government, expressed surprise at the decision, adding there would be remedies for candidates who felt they had been wronged.

But Chadema accused electoral authorities of being complicit in scuttling their campaign efforts.

Mbowe said several Chadema candidates had been outright disqualified by electoral officials from running in the nationwide November 24 polls to choose local government leaders.

Others had found registration offices closed when they tried to apply or discovered their applications had been tampered with, he added.

Rights groups say the intimidation of political opponents has escalated sharply under Magufuli, a strongman elected in 2015 whose administration has wielded wide-ranging laws to silence government critics.

Police have broken up opposition gatherings and shut down Chadema meetings, the party says.

Their activists have been kidnapped and beaten, and at least one has blamed authorities for an attack in 2017 which saw him shot multiple times.

Several have disappeared and turned up murdered.

“Magufuli and his party are afraid. We are not going to participate in this charade,” Mbowe said of the upcoming elections.

The victors in the local polls form the political backbone for campaigning ahead of general elections slated for 2020.

Magufuli, whose nickname “tingatinga” means “bulldozer” in Swahili, is expected to run for another five-year term.

His rule has been marked by a democratic backslide in Tanzania, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said in a report last month.

Free media has been cowed by draconian cybercrime laws, critical newspapers and bloggers have been silenced, and opposition activists harassed unlawfully, the report stated.

Niger Elections Tribunal Set To Deliver Judgement Amidst Tight Security

 

There is a heavy presence of security personnel at the Niger State Judiciary Complex Minna where the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal is expected to deliver judgment.

The verdict follows a suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate Umar Nasko challenging the victory of Governor Abubakar Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the recently held governorship election.

READ ALSO: Xenophobia: Why Air Peace Is Evacuating Nigerians For Free – CEO

The petitioners had alleged that Governor Bello submitted forged certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

They also alleged that the governorship election was marred with irregularities.

See Photos Below:

 

 

Israel Votes On Netanyahu’s Political Survival

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara cast their votes at a voting station in Jerusalem on September 17, 2019. Heidi Levine / POOL / AFP

 

Israel voted in its second election in five months Tuesday that will decide whether to extend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s term as the country’s longest-serving prime minister despite corruption allegations against him.

The stakes could not be much higher for the 69-year-old right-wing leader who, as in April polls, faces a strong challenge from ex-military chief Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue and White alliance.

Netanyahu voted in Jerusalem alongside his wife Sara and said he expected a close election, urging Israelis to turn out in large numbers.

“President (Donald) Trump said yesterday that the elections will be tight,” Netanyahu said in reference to Monday’s comments calling the polls “50/50” by the US leader, who has been a strong supporter of the premier.

“I can guarantee you this morning that they are very tight.”

Gantz voted in his hometown of Rosh Haayin near Tel Aviv and called on the country to reject corruption and “extremism”.

“We want new hope. We are voting today for change,” Gantz said after voting with his wife Revital.

“We will succeed in bringing hope. We will succeed in bringing change, without corruption and without extremism, all together.”

Polls opened at 7:00 am (0400 GMT) and were due to close in most areas at 10:00 pm.

Some 6.4 million people are eligible to vote.

The first exit surveys will be released just after polls close, while official results are not expected until Wednesday.

There were early signs that concerns over election fatigue may not materialise.

Turnout by 10:00 am was 15 percent, the highest by that time since 1984, according to the election committee.

Opinion polls have indicated another tight race, showing Netanyahu’s Likud and the Blue and White winning around 32 seats each in the 120-seat parliament.

Ex-defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu’s former right-hand man turned rival, could play a kingmaker role with his campaign to “make Israel normal again.”

 Immunity? 

Netanyahu suffered one of the biggest defeats of his political career following the April vote.

His Likud along with its right-wing and religious allies won a majority, leading President Reuven Rivlin to task the premier with forming a new government.

But following weeks of discussions, Netanyahu failed, leading him to opt for an unprecedented second election rather than risk having Rivlin choose someone else.

The danger for Netanyahu extends beyond remaining prime minister, a post he has held for a total of more than 13 years.

If he wins, many believe he will seek to have parliament grant him immunity from prosecution, as he faces the possibility of a corruption indictment in the weeks ahead.

Recognising the stakes, Netanyahu spent the final days of the campaign seeking to appeal to right-wing nationalists — key to his re-election bid — and to boost turnout among his base.

Those efforts have included a controversial pledge to annex the Jordan Valley, which makes up a third of the occupied West Bank.

He has issued unfounded warnings that the vote could be stolen by fraud in Arab communities, leading critics to accuse him of racism.

But Netanyahu has also highlighted the country’s growing economy and his relationships with world leaders such as Trump.

He has tried to label his main opponents “weak” and “leftist” despite their security credentials.

 ‘Normal again’ 

Gantz has campaigned by presenting himself as an honourable alternative.

He has repeatedly spoken of Netanyahu’s willingness to form a coalition with far-right parties that could help him secure immunity.

Gantz says his alliance, which includes three former armed forces chiefs of staff, wants a unity government that the vast majority of Israelis would support.

Opinion polls show the campaign by Lieberman’s nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party has resonated with voters.

His “make Israel normal again” slogan refers to what the staunch secularist says is the undue influence of ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties on the country’s politics.

He accuses them of seeking to impose Jewish religious law on Israel’s secular population and wants legislation ending the exemption of the ultra-Orthodox from mandatory military service.

Lieberman prevented Netanyahu from forming a coalition after April polls by refusing to relent on his demand that the ultra-Orthodox be required to serve in the military like other Jewish Israelis.

It is not clear he will endorse Netanyahu as prime minister again, which could be enough for Rivlin to allow Gantz to try to form a government.

Israel’s newly reunified Arab parties could also prove decisive with a performance similar to 2015 elections, when they became the third-largest force in parliament.

If so, they could block Netanyahu from continuing as prime minister by recommending Gantz.

AFP

Nigeria’s Law Does Not Allow Electronic Transmission Of Election Results, Says INEC

The Director of Publicity for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, says the nation’s laws do not create room for the electronic transmission of electoral results.

Osaze-Uzzi, who stated this during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday, however explained that the result can be uploaded theoretically.

The INEC spokesman explained that even if the country begins using electronic mode of voting and releasing of results, those who want to undermine the process will still do it.

READ ALSO: Kogi Governorship: APC NWC Clears 10th Aspirant To Contest Primaries

“Theoretically, in our elections, you can transmit the results electronically. But the law in Nigeria does not allow for that.

“If Nigerians want that to happen, then you can do that. But that does not mean it will not be susceptible to manipulation by people who are interested in manipulating the process,” he said.

According to the national commissioner, the crucial part of the electioneering process is the actual voting and the direction of result at the polling unit.

Explaining further, he said: “That is the building for the very foundation. If that is not right, others are not right. Even if INEC gets the collation wrong which it should not, there is a process by which, for example it is challenged, it goes back to the commission.”

His remarks come two months to the commencement of the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.

The electoral body has promised to improve on the successes recorded in the recently concluded general elections in the November exercise in the two states.

Guaido Warns Maduro Against Moving Legislative Elections Forward

US Seeks UN Draft Resolution Calling For Venezuela Elections
The President of Venezuela’s National Assembly and self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido (L) and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (R) delivering speeches in Caracas on February 8, 2018. Juan BARRETO, Federico PARRA / AFP

 

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido warned President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday that any attempts to bring forward parliamentary elections would end in “disaster” for the government.

Elections to renew the National Assembly, the only branch of government under opposition control, are set for December 2020.

But the Constituent Assembly, a rival body created by the Maduro regime and given extraordinary powers superseding the National Assembly, has hinted at the possibility of ordering early elections.

Such a maneuver could threaten the opposition’s hold on the National Assembly and with it Guaido’s claim as head of the legislature to be the country’s legitimate president.

But Guaido insisted it would backfire, further isolating Maduro, who has so far withstood opposition challenges to his presidency with the support of the military.

“What would happen if the regime dared to — and it could — bring forward an irregular convocation for elections without any conditions?” said Guaido.

“They will drown in contradictions, in isolation — they will drown in disaster.”

Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, the most powerful regime figure after Maduro, admitted on Monday the move was a “counter-attack” after the United States increased its sanctions on the government.

Venezuela has been locked in a political crisis since the legislature branded Maduro a “usurper” in January over his controversial re-election last year in a poll widely denounced as rigged.

As the head of the National Assembly, Guaido demanded Maduro step down and declared himself acting president in a move recognized by more than 50 countries.

The government and the opposition have engaged in Norwegian-mediated talks but those negotiations appear blocked over the opposition’s demand that Maduro step down so new elections can be held.

In the meantime, the regime has stepped up pressure on opposition legislators by stripping 25 of them of their parliamentary immunity over their alleged support for a failed April uprising instigated by Guaido.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini’s spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said these moves were “another direct attack on the only democratically elected body in Venezuela.”

US President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton urged the “international community to hold the tyrant Maduro accountable.”

AFP

Togo Votes In First Local Elections In Over 30 Years

 

Togo on Sunday held its first local elections in 32 years, during which a single family has ruled the West African nation, with most opposition parties taking part after boycotting 2018 parliamentary polls.

The elections “mark a major advance in the establishment of democracy” in Togo, President Faure Gnassingbe said in a Facebook post.

Gnassingbe has been in power for nearly 15 years since succeeding his father Eyadema Gnassingbe, who ruled the country with an iron fist for 38 years.

He voted in his hometown of Pya, some 420 kilometres (260 miles) north of the capital Lome.

Turnout was low in Lome with the polling stations visited by AFP reporters showing an average abstention of 75 per cent.

“Participation is weak in Lome, because some young people in the opposition did not come out, they don’t know who to vote for, the leaders being divided,” said Evariste Gangigla, electoral commission representative at a Lome polling station.

Counting of the ballots began Sunday evening, sometimes without electricity, just by the light of a mobile phone, an AFP correspondent reported.

No date has yet been given for announcing the results.

‘A great step forward’

Voting took place without any major incidents reported, AFP correspondents said.

Casting his ballot, Atutu Lawson said he looked forward to “lots of changes in the neighbourhood,” noting it had no market and that many homes did not have indoor toilets.

Another voter, Issouf Moudji, told AFP: “Our country is taking a great step forward. Now we will have representatives in our neighbourhood whom we can discuss our needs with.”

The previous councillors elected in local elections in Togo governed for 14 years from 1987 — despite being elected to five-year terms.

Councillors were later replaced with “special delegations”, tasked with organising new elections, whose positions were often filled with figures handpicked by the government.

The country’s 3.4 million eligible voters were called to elect 1,527 municipal councillors to six-year terms, renewable twice, in 117 towns.

With the notable exception of the National Panafrican Party (PNP), which organised mass protests in April to call for a limit on presidential terms, all the main opposition parties fielded candidates in Sunday’s elections.

The PNP, whose leader Tikpi Atchadam lives in exile, is demanding the release of three activists who have been held since the April protests.

He was part of a coalition formed in mid-2017 that staged demonstrations in several cities seeking constitutional reforms and Gnassingbe’s resignation.

The movement has lost steam, and several opposition parties opted to field candidates in the local elections after boycotting legislative polls in December 2018 — leaving them without representation in parliament.

‘Muddled’ organisation

Now they hope to gain a presence at the municipal level.

The National Alliance for Change, a longstanding opposition party, criticised what it called the “muddled” organisation of Sunday’s vote.

Its spokesman Eric Dupuy alleged ballot-stuffing at a polling station in the Lome suburb of Baguida, adding local residents torched the fraudulent voting papers.

A joint statement released by the United States, European Union, France and Germany last Friday described the vote as an “important step in strengthening local democracy”.

It urged the government and political parties “to make every effort to collectively promote the holding of a free, peaceful and transparent election”.

Some 8,000 police and security forces voted on Friday so that they could be deployed for Sunday’s polling in the former French colony.