The Local Government election in some parts of Ogun State has been extended by one hour over the later arrival of materials.
Residents of the Gateway State had come out on Saturday to cast their ballots in polling units across the 20 local councils to elect their local government chairmen and councilors for a fresh four-year term.
Although the exercise was scheduled to close by 3 pm in all polling units, the State Independent Electoral Commission extended the exercise.
Briefing journalists, the Chairman of the Commission, Babatunde Oshibodu said he received reports that election materials got to some Centres late and that necessitated an extension.
Earlier, the Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun arrived at his Itaosanyin Ward two in Iperu, Ikenne Local Government Area of the state to cast his vote.
The governor commended residents for their peaceful conduct. However, in Abeokuta the state capital, security operatives had enforced the restriction of movement earlier imposed by the Ogun State Government.
Channels Television observed a less busy road as they travelled through the Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the Shiun-Bobape road, leading to the state capital, Abeokuta.
The outer towns were without security operatives or enforcement agents, yet the compliance to the restriction appeared to be high in and around Abeokuta.
Voters in Ethiopia cast ballots Monday in a delayed national election taking place against the backdrop of war and famine in the northern Tigray region and questions over the poll’s credibility.
It is the first electoral test for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, 44, who rose to power in 2018 championing a democratic revival in Africa’s second most populous country, and a break from its authoritarian past.
“This election is different,” said Milyon Gebregziabher, a 45-year-old travel agent voting in the centre of the capital Addis Ababa. “There are a number of parties to choose from. In the past there was just one, we did not have the luxury of choice.”
Abiy, a Nobel Peace laureate who freed political prisoners, welcomed back exiles and ended a long cold war with neighbouring Eritrea before sending troops to confront the dissident leadership of Tigray late last year, has promised this election will be Ethiopia’s most competitive in history, free of the repression that marred previous ballots.
But the spectre of famine caused by the ongoing fighting in Tigray, and the failure to stage elections on schedule in around one-fifth of constituencies, means that promise is in doubt.
Polling began in Addis Ababa soon after the expected start time of 6:00 am (0300 GMT) with voters in face masks wrapped in blankets against the pre-dawn chill.
Electoral officials in purple vests sprayed voters’ hands with sanitiser before checking their IDs against the register.
“I believe this election will shine a light of democracy on Ethiopia,” said Yordanos Berhanu, a 26-year-old accountant at the head of a queue of hundreds.
“As a young Ethiopian, I (have) hope for the future of my country, and believe voting is part of that,” she said before slipping her ballot papers into a purple plastic box for the national vote and a light green one for the regional election.
In Bahir Dar, capital of the northwestern Amhara region which neighbours Tigray, voters said peace and economic growth were the priorities.
“No matter who wins, we want peace,” said 25-year-old jobseeker Mirkuz Gashaw.
“As a citizen, I hope our country prospers and grows,” said first-time voter Etsubdink Sisay, 18, who lined up with her mother.
Once votes are counted, national MPs will elect the prime minister, who is head of government, as well as the president — a largely ceremonial role.
Abiy’s ruling Prosperity Party has fielded the most candidates for national parliamentary races, and is the firm favourite to win a majority and form the next government.
Security was ramped up for the election, with police marching in force in Addis Ababa over the weekend, and reinforcements deployed across the country.
The election was twice delayed — once for the coronavirus pandemic, and again to allow more time to organise the ballot across a huge nation.
Some 38 million Ethiopians are registered but are polls not going ahead in close to one-fifth of the country’s 547 constituencies with some areas were deemed too insecure — plagued by armed insurgencies and ethnic violence — while in others logistical setbacks made arranging a vote in time impossible.
A second batch of voting is to take place on September 6 to accommodate many of the districts not taking part Monday.
Shadow of war
But there is no election date set for Tigray, where UN agencies say 350,000 people face famine conditions, and atrocities have been documented.
The northernmost region represents 38 seats in national parliament, and has been governed by an interim administration since November, when Abiy sent troops into Tigray, promising a swift campaign to oust its ruling party.
Seven months later the conflict drags on, damaging Abiy’s standing as a peacemaker and overshadowing a vote meant to broadcast his country’s democratic intent.
In a handful of places where the vote is going ahead Monday, opposition parties are boycotting in protest, reducing some constituencies to a one-horse race.
Even in the best of times, organising smooth elections is a tall order in Ethiopia, a huge country hobbled by poor infrastructure.
Observers have pointed out that logistical support usually comes from the military, which is largely tied up Tigray, leaving organisers short on manpower.
But after months of setbacks and delays, election officials said they were ready for Monday’s vote, which involves more than 40 parties and 9,500 candidates. Vote counting is due to start soon after polls close, but results are not expected for days.
Concerns about credibility have been raised, with traditional ally the United States warning that excluding so many voters risked confidence in the process.
Igini also reiterated the commitment of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deploy more technology and innovation to further enhance the transparency of the electoral process.
According to him, the use of its public viewing portal during the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States eradicated possible electoral fraud as Nigerians saw the results of each polling unit online almost immediately after casting their ballots.
“I can confirm that INEC has made tremendous progress. The INEC of today is no longer the INEC of before because, since 2011, the kind of elections that we have conducted had a remarkable departure from where we used to be even though we are not where we are supposed to be.
“The INEC public viewing portal is a new innovation to deal with the recurring issues of vote changes at the level of collation and that was why it was introduced to ensure that at the polling unit, once the result is published, it should be sent to the viewing portals so that Nigerians can see it,” Igini added.
President Donald Trump has said that, like in 2016, the pollsters underestimated the enthusiasm of his legions of supporters.
But if Democrat Joe Biden ends up squeaking out a win, the polls may prove to have been more accurate than when Trump upset Hillary Clinton four years ago.
“The ‘pollsters’ got it completely & historically wrong!” Trump tweeted on Wednesday after declaring victory before all the votes are counted.
While the 2020 race has not been decided yet, all indications are pointing to a slim Biden victory.
Four years ago, Trump was the underdog going into the election and most of the polls had Clinton the clear favorite.
Chris Jackson of the Ipsos polling and market research firm said the Trump-Biden polls “appear to be broadly on target across the South and Southwest.”
Averages of state polls by website RealClearPolitics had Biden slightly favored in Arizona, trailing in North Carolina and in a dead heat with Trump in Georgia.
The results were largely in line with the polls.
In Florida, a notoriously difficult state for pollsters, Biden had been slightly favored up until the final days leading up to the election.
An ABC News/Washington Post had Trump winning the Sunshine State by two points, close to the final margin.
At the same time, Jackson said “Trump appears to have again overperformed against pre-election polling in the Midwest.”
Trump notched up his surprise victory in 2016 with wins in the key states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where the polls all leaned towards Clinton.
In Wisconsin, the RCP average of state polls had Biden up by 6.7 points while New York Times and Washington Post surveys had him up by 11 and 17 points respectively.
With 98 percent of the vote counted in Wisconsin, Biden’s margin of victory there is just 0.6 points, or around 20,000 votes.
In Michigan, with 97 percent of the vote counted, Biden leads by 1.2 points. Trump has a five point lead in Pennsylvania with 84 percent of the vote counted.
Ahead of the election, the political tracking website FiveThirtyEight.com said Biden would win in 89 out of 100 simulated outcomes.
FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver said that at the end of the day the 2020 polls may end up being not so far off.
“Don’t want to stir things up ‘too’ much but it seems like if a forecast says that Biden is favored because he could survive a 2016-style (~3 point) polling error when Clinton couldn’t, and you get that polling error and he indeed (probably) survives, it was fairly informative?” Silver said.
“I think that’s probably what we’re going to wind up with once all votes are counted,” he said. “3-ish points. Worse in some states, certainly, whereas in other states Biden will match or exceed his polls. Not unlike 2016.”
What does appear to be clear, is that many polls underestimated the vote for Trump.
Not all of them. A Des Moines Register poll in Iowa dismissed as an “outlier” at the time ended up being pretty much on the nose.
The newspaper forecast a seven-point win for Trump in Iowa and he won the state by eight points.
In 2016, the polls accurately forecast Hillary Clinton’s lead in the national vote but not the battleground states of the Midwest.
“This time, it looks like the national polls understated Trump’s share and that this occurred in most states as well,” said Christopher Wlezien of the University of Texas at Austin.
“Given the patterns, it looks like the polls missed something pretty systematic, not just random,” Wlezien said.
“I’m not sure the margin of error associated with sampling is that helpful in this case, but what specifically they missed remains to be determined,” he said.
Wlezien said there could be several factors.
“For instance, it may be that undecideds broke for Trump, much as they did 2016,” he said. “It also may be that there was a surge in Republican turnout.
“Some Democrats may have figured that Biden was pretty certain to win and so didn’t vote,” he said. “Maybe not that likely but possible.”
Opposition candidate Luis Abinader has claimed victory in the Dominican Republic’s presidential race after voters on Sunday braved a worsening coronavirus outbreak to cast their ballots for a new leader and legislature.
Abinader’s rivals and the outgoing president also recognized his win, which ends 16 years of unbroken rule by the Caribbean nation’s center-left Dominican Liberation Party (PLD).
“We won, today we win, but we will never forget who we owe this victory to,” the 52-year-old businessman said from a platform before dozens of followers at his campaign headquarters in the capital Santo Domingo.
“We owe it to you, the Dominican people. That is why tonight we all won.”
According to data from the central electoral board after around 60 percent of ballots had been counted, Abinader gained around 1.2 million votes — around 53 percent.
The PLD’s candidate Gonzalo Castillo came second in a six-man field, with 838,000 votes — or 37 percent — according to the incomplete figures.
Castillo said the official count “shows that there is an irreversible trend and that from now on we have a president-elect… Our congratulations to Mr. Luis Abinader.”
Outgoing President Danilo Medina also accepted the businessman’s victory, tweeting his “congratulations to the new president-elect @LuisAbinader.”
Abinader’s win was is yet to be formally announced by the electoral board.
Gunfire outside a polling station in the capital left one person dead after an argument among opposing party activists turned violent, police said.
But elsewhere, voting appeared to progress smoothly, with few disruptions despite the extra virus precautions.
“It’s pretty fluid and very well organized. The truth is I didn’t expect it,” said Maribel Roman, a 47-year-old business consultant, as she waited for her turn to vote.
The election, which was pushed back from May 17, was held despite the epidemic’s explosive spread, with the number of new COVID-19 cases hitting a record high Sunday for a third consecutive day.
Medina, who could not seek another term under the country’s constitution, was forced to impose a national lockdown, easing it only last week as parties made a final drive for votes.
– ‘Change is coming’ –
Abinader had to suspend his campaign after testing positive for the coronavirus, but recovered sufficiently to lead a rally on Wednesday.
An observer team from the Organization of American States (OAS) monitored the vote, but its leader, former Chilean president Eduardo Frei, was unable to be present because of travel restrictions.
Some 7.5 million Dominicans were eligible to cast ballots in the election.
Also up for grabs are 32 senate seats, 190 seats in the lower house and 20 representatives to the Central American parliament.
– Corruption an issue –
“Change is coming and the PLD is going,” Abinader, who is considered a centrist, promised hundreds of his supporters at a closing rally Wednesday.
Corruption has been a key issue after protests in recent years over the involvement of local officials in the Latin America-wide Odebrecht graft scandal.
The Brazilian construction giant has admitted to doling out $92 million in bribes in the Dominican Republic in exchange for winning public works contracts.
The country, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, ranks 137th out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s corruption index. – Virus fears –
Despite health protocols at polling stations, Health Minister Rafael Sanchez Cardenas said it would be “practically impossible” not to have fresh outbreaks of COVID-19.
The pandemic has already hit polling by the Republic’s 600,000 overseas voters — representing almost eight percent of the electoral roll.
Most live in the United States, Spain and Puerto Rico, where polling has been taking place. However, expatriates in Italy and Panama have not been authorized to vote because of coronavirus restrictions there.
The Dominican Republic is one of the strongest economies in the region, recording on average 6.3 percent growth a year between 2013 and 2018, according to the World Bank.
However, the Bank has warned that it is at risk of being pushed back into poverty because of the pandemic.
Croatians went to the polls Sunday for a government to navigate the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, in a tight race pitting ruling conservatives against leftist rivals and a new nationalist party on the rise.
The pandemic has put Croatia’s tourism-dependent economy on course for a contraction of nearly 10 percent — its steepest decline in decades — even as the country’s own health situation has remained stable.
The ruling conservative HDZ party, which has led the Adriatic country for most of its independence, has been touting its relative success in containing the country’s virus outbreak thus far, with an official tally of roughly 110 deaths and 3,000 infections.
But a fresh rise of cases in recent weeks, with dozens recorded daily, has renewed fears over the health situation and given the opposition fresh ammunition.
“Whoever wins will face major economic problems to deal with in autumn. It won’t be easy,” said Igor Ivic, a 49-year-old economist among the first crowd of voters to cast ballots in Zagreb.
Polls put Croatia’s two main camps — Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic’s HDZ and the left-leaning ‘Restart’ coalition led by the Social Democrats (SDP) — in a close contest.
With neither expected to carve out an absolute majority in the 151-member house, tricky coalition talks are expected to follow the vote.
That leaves the new populist ‘Homeland Movement’ of folk singer-turned-politician Miroslav Skoro, polling in third, a potential kingmaker.
– ‘New start’ –
With the European Union member facing a fresh uptick infections, voters were advised to wear masks and bring their own pens to polling stations, which opened at 7:00 am (0500 GMT).
Officials also paid home visits to the collect the ballots of 500 people — some 10 percent of those in self-isolation — who requested to vote, while others infected with the virus can do so through a proxy.
SDP leader and prime minister candidate Davor Bernardic has accused the government of “consciously pushing Croatia into a risk” by deciding to go ahead with the election in the middle of the pandemic.
He and other rivals also highlight HDZ’s history of graft, which has been brought back to the fore with a recent scandal involving a top official.
“We have offered…a clear alternative, clear changes for Croatia’s new start,” 40-year-old Bernardic said after casting his vote in the capital.
Plenkovic, meanwhile, is hoping the uncertainty of the health crisis will inspire voters to stick with HDZ, in power since 2016.
Now is the time for “serious choices and not for political quackery,” said the former MEP with strong backing from Brussels, who has dismissed his rivals as ill-prepared.
“Croatia doesn’t have time for experiments like Bernardic or Skoro,” he said.
Petar Dragic, a taxi driver from Zagreb, told AFP agreed with the 50-year-old prime minister.
“I’m pragmatic, don’t care who is left or right. Only Plenkovic is capable of pulling funds from Brussels and this is what we need now,” he said.
Yet some Croatians are hungry for new faces in a country struggling with massive emigration driven by low salaries and corruption at home.
“There is not enough focus on Croatians leaving for abroad, unemployment and poor salaries of young people,” said retired teacher Branka Tekavec.
Right-wing Skoro is also trying to capitalise on fatigue with the country’s two-party dominance, arguing that only his new party “guarantees a change, while SDP and HDZ guarantee the continuity of bad governance”.
The popular musician made his big debut when he finished third in Croatia’s December presidential election, inspiring him to form a new movement.
Analysts say HDZ could ultimately accept a tie-up with the singer, despite anger over his moves to break off a segment of their traditional voting base.
SDP, on the other hand, is unlikely to consider such an alliance given 57-year-old Skoro’s nostalgia for Croatia’s pro-Nazi past and accusations of sexism.
Some 3.8 million people are eligible to vote with first official results due late Sunday.
Tense elections to replace Burundi’s long-ruling president got underway on Wednesday despite a coronavirus outbreak that the East African nation has largely ignored.
The vote comes after five years of turmoil sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, which unleashed unrest that left at least 1,200 dead and saw 400,000 flee the country.
Burundians stood in long lines outside polling stations, which opened shortly after six a.m. (0400 GMT).
Just before voting started, social networks were cut off except for access by virtual private network.
More than five million registered voters are being asked to choose between Nkurunziza’s hand-picked heir and frontrunner, 52-year-old general Evariste Ndayishimiye, the main opposition competitor Agathon Rwasa, and five other candidates.
Elections are also being held for parliamentarians and local councillors, who in turn appoint the members of the Senate.
“I am happy to vote for the candidate of my choice today, even if I am afraid of what is happening because social networks were cut,” said primary school teacher Patrice, 30, who voted in northern Ngozi.
“It is important because after 15 years of Nkurunziza, it is time for change. He did good and bad things…. today I want (Rwasa’s) CNL to win because the country needs new blood”.
However ruling party supporter Gertrude, who voted in central Mwaro province, said she would vote for Ndayishimiye “so that he can continue the legacy of our president Pierre Nkurunziza… and beat poverty”.
Burundi has a long history of ethnic violence between its Hutu and Tutsi communities and saw several presidents assassinated or ousted after independence from Belgium in 1962.
It is listed by the World Bank as one of the three poorest countries in the world.
The onset of turmoil in 2015 worsened the situation for many, as traditional donors cut ties.
There then followed two years of recession followed by paltry growth, and the economy now faces potential fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
– ‘Divine protection’ –
Unlike Ethiopia, which in March postponed its August general elections because of the virus risk, Burundi pushed ahead with the vote.
It has not imposed any movement restrictions on its 11 million people, as other countries in East Africa have done, and large crowds gathered at campaign rallies.
Ndayishimiye and other officials have insisted God is protecting Burundi.
Only 42 cases and one death have officially been recorded.
However, doctors accuse the government of minimising the scale of the outbreak and residents of Bujumbura have told AFP of mysterious deaths from respiratory problems and fever.
– Clash of Hutu rebel leaders –
The campaign was marked by violence and arbitrary arrests — the kind that has persisted in the shadows since the 2015 poll — and observers expected a bitter contest between the two frontrunners.
Ndayishimiye is a party veteran who like Nkurunziza, fought for the ethnic Hutu rebellion during the country’s 1993-2006 civil war with the minority Tutsi-dominated army. The war left some 300,000 dead.
Rwasa, 56, was a leader of the oldest ethnic Hutu rebel movement, the Palipehutu-FNL, one of the two biggest armed opposition groups in the war.
In the eyes of the majority Hutu — 85 percent of the population — Rwasa has as much legitimacy as a presidential candidate as his rival.
“The people won’t let their victory be stolen,” warned Rwasa, after the ruling party made clear it expected no other outcome than a resounding win.
Nkurunziza’s decision to step aside came as a surprise after constitutional changes in 2018 opened the possibility for him to stay in office until 2034.
In January legislators passed a law offering a golden parachute to outgoing presidents, including a luxury villa and a one-off sum equivalent to more than half a million dollars.
The outgoing president, who has ruled for 15 years, was in February named the “supreme guide for patriotism” and he is expected to retain an influential role if the ruling CNDD-FDD stays in power.
While Ndayishimiye is considered the frontrunner, observers highlight the massive crowds mobilised by Rwasa during his campaign.
“There is a phenomenon of despair, a feeling of ‘anything but the CNDD-FDD’, and Rwasa is riding this wave,” said International Crisis Group (ICG) expert Onesphore Sematumba.
The government has refused any observers from the UN or the African Union, accusing the latter of being too close to the opposition.
Polls close at 1400 GMT, with results expected by next Monday or Tuesday.
Senegal’s President Macky Sall won in the first round of the election Sunday, his prime minister said, although his two main challengers look set to contest the outcome.
“The results allow us to say that we should congratulate President Macky Sall on his re-election,” Prime Minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne said at midnight, predicting the incumbent would receive “at least 57 percent” of the vote.
His announcement hours after polls closed was greeted with cheers from supporters gathered at the headquarters of the presidential coalition in Dakar. Sall, who was seen there earlier in the evening, did not speak.
Official results from each region are not expected until Tuesday with a nationwide announcement by Friday midnight at the latest. If no one wins more than 50 percent a second-round runoff will be held on March 24.
Shortly before Dionne’s announcement, Sall’s two main challengers had warned against premature proclamations of victory.
“At this stage, a second round is announced and the results that are already compiled allow us to say so,” said former prime minister Idrissa Seck, who was making his third run for president.
“At the current state of the vote count, no candidate, I say no candidate, including myself, can claim to have won the presidential election,” taxman-turned MP Ousmane Sonko, who was also in the race, added at their joint press conference.
Seck and Sonko are the only two candidates seen as having a chance of making it to a second round, with incumbent Sall, 56, in the lead in many polling stations, according to preliminary results reported in the evening by local media.
The other challengers, former foreign minister Madicke Niang and Issa Sall of the Unity and Assembly Party (PUR), were trailing far behind, according to the results.
Macky Sall had looked set to cruise to victory in the first round after his two key rivals, popular former Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade, son of the previous president, were banned from running over graft convictions and he only faced four lesser-known candidates.
“At the end of this day, the Senegalese people alone will be the winner. And the president has chosen will equally have to be president of all Senegalese,” Sall said after voting Sunday.
A geologist by training, Sall took over as president in 2012 after beating his former mentor Abdoulaye Wade, and this time, he has campaigned for a second term championing his “Emerging Senegal” infrastructure project to boost economic growth.
“Victory in the first round is indisputable,” Sall told a recent Dakar campaign rally.
The EU observation mission said its overall assessment was “quite positive” among the polling stations it observed.
“There has been very little violence, very isolated incidents, which is very good news,” said Elena Valenciano, head of the mission.
A smaller lineup
Often held up as a model of stability in Africa, Senegal has enjoyed strong growth. The Muslim-majority country has largely escaped the jihadist attacks that destabilised neighbours such as Mali.
Sall has made transport infrastructure a priority. But basic services, healthcare, and education often remain inadequate, sometimes triggering strikes and protests.
The other four candidates have campaigned hard against his plans for the second phase of his project, which critics see as a potential debt burden.
The five-horse race leaves voters with a limited choice compared to 2012 when 14 candidates vied for the top post.
A new system approved by parliament last year requires candidates demonstrate support from a minimum number of citizens and regions.
Once the regulations went into force, only seven candidates made the cut, but two of them — Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade — were then disqualified.
Both men were barred over their convictions for misuse of public funds, which they say were engineered to bar them from the race.
Their supporters staged a number of protests and last year, Amnesty International issued a report highlighting the “unfair trials” of senior opposition figures, flagging a “lack of (judicial) independence” in the case against Khalifa Sall.
Senegal has a population of 16 million but only 6.7 million were registered to vote in the West African nation which gained independence from France in 1960.
Senegal has known two peaceful power transfers in 2000 and 2012 and has never experienced any coups. But election campaigns are often marred by charges of corruption, disinformation and sometimes violence.
For polling day, some 8,000 police were deployed throughout urban areas alongside an unspecified number of civilian security staff, officials said.
And around 5,000 observers — including some from the European Union — were monitoring proceedings, the interior ministry said.
As millions of Nigerians packed the polls on Saturday for the presidential and National Assembly elections, the candidates in the race and major political stakeholders and statesmen also pushed their cause forward by voting.
Here are photos of major candidates, political stakeholders and other prominent Nigerians voting: