Ghana Awaits Results From Presidential Election

Ghanaians awaited results on Tuesday from presidential and parliamentary elections that passed off peacefully, reaffirming the country’s reputation for stability in a troubled region.

Results are expected to be close between President Nana Akufo-Addo, 76, of the center-right New Patriotic Party (NPP) running for a second term, and his predecessor, John Mahama, of the centre-left National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Residents of the seaside capital Accra went about their daily routines as normal on Tuesday — among them was Abdulkarim Al Hassan, repairing mobile phones in a small shop.

“I’m happy that there was no conflict or confusion but I’m sad that my winner appears to be losing,” said the 32-year-old who voted for Mahama.

“I’m disappointed but life goes on.”

Provisional estimates were put out by the presidency Tuesday morning but only the electoral commission can release official results.

According to the presidency’s tally from 91 percent of polling stations, Akufo-Addo received 52.25 percent of votes and Mahama 46.44 percent.

 

– ‘Isolated challenges’ –

The electoral commission has urged the public to wait, saying it was “working round the clock to ensure that the collated results are accurate and a true reflection of the will of the people”.

“The commission will release all the certified results as soon as they are received,” it said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

At a polling station in Accra’s Jamestown neighbourhood, dozens of election staff spent the night counting ballots while party officials, journalists, and election observers watched, some half asleep.

Outside the gates, guarded by a police tank and a handful of armed guards, some residents of the poor neighbourhood were nervous.

“People are saying NDC won but I voted NPP!” said Rebecca Vorsah, a 20-year-old student among the nation’s 17 million registered voters.

Some 12,000 observers deployed on the voting day across Ghana gave the process a clean bit of health with just a few incidents of intimidation reported.

“While there were some challenges, these challenges were isolated and did not undermine the process’s overall credibility,” a coalition of observers, CODEO, said in a statement Tuesday.

 

– Economic woes ahead –

There has never been a second-round in Ghanaian elections and the two main parties have handed over power peacefully seven times since the return of democracy more than 30 years ago.

Post-electoral grievances have always been pursued through the courts.

Twelve candidates overall are vying for the nation’s top job while members of parliament are competing for 275 seats.

To ensure its continued tradition of peaceful polls, the two main presidential candidates Akufo-Addo and Mahama on Friday signed a symbolic peace pact.

The stability in Ghana contrasts with that of other countries in the region, with deadly unrest this year in Guinea and Ivory Coast.

Key issues that voters want the next government to address included unemployment, infrastructure, education, and health.

The world’s second-largest cocoa-producing country has made giant strides in the last 20 years but many people still live in extreme poverty and the country faces mounting debt.

AFP

Trump Says ‘We Are Winning This Election’ At First Post-Poll Rally

US President Donald Trump holds up his fist as he leaves the stage at the end of a rally to support Republican Senate candidates at Valdosta Regional Airport in Valdosta, Georgia on December 5, 2020. – President Donald Trump ventures out of Washington on Saturday for his first political appearance since his election defeat to Joe Biden, campaigning in Georgia where two run-off races will decide the fate of the US Senate. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP).

 

Donald Trump launched into another litany of baseless claims that the US presidential election was stolen from him at his first post-poll rally on Saturday, telling the crowd he would still end up winning.

“We’re winning this election,” Trump said at the rally in Valdosta, Georgia, adding later that “we will still win it.”

“It’s rigged. It’s a fixed deal,” he said of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Despite surging cases of Covid-19 nationwide, few masks could be seen at the rally and many in the crowd were not abiding by social-distancing measures.

Trump was joined by first lady Melania Trump, who gave a short speech before the president’s.

The former reality show star was campaigning in Georgia on behalf of two Republican Senate candidates facing a hugely important runoff on January 5.

The runoff races will decide which party controls the US Senate, and Trump continued his fear-mongering about rival Democrats.

“The voters of Georgia will determine which party runs every committee, writes every piece of legislation, controls every single taxpayer dollar,” he said.

READ ALSO: Mass Evacuation In Frankfurt As WWII Bomb Is Defused

“Very simply, you will decide whether your children will grow up in a socialist country or whether they will grow up in a free country.”

There had been concerns from some Republicans over whether Trump’s continuing claims of fraud would drive down voter turnout among Republicans in the upcoming election, making his appearance somewhat of a gamble.

Trump made clear he was neither ready to concede to Biden nor give up on his baseless claims of fraud dismissed by a long line of courts.

Biden won Georgia by just under 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992 to win the Republican stronghold.

AFP

Burkina Faso Incumbent Kabore Wins Presidential Election

Burkina Faso’s President and presidential candidate Roch Marc Christian Kabore (2nd R) speaks to reporters after voting at a polling station in Ouagadougou on November 22, 2020, during Burkina Faso’s presidential and legislative elections. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kabore has won a second term after gaining an outright majority in the first round of elections, the country’s electoral board announced Thursday.

“Mr Kabore… with 57.87 percent of the vote, is provisionally elected president of (Burkina) Faso in the first round,” said Newton Ahmed Barry, head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

Eddie Komboigo, the candidate of a once-ruling party, came second in Sunday’s vote with 15.48 percent of the ballot, followed by Zephirin Diabre, considered by pundits to be the best-placed opposition hopeful, with 12.46 percent.

Kabore, 63, has been under fire for his response to a five-year-old jihadist insurgency that has rolled in from Mali.

But he was the favourite and by winning an overall majority in the first round he avoids a runoff vote in which he would have had to stand against a single candidate backed by a united opposition.

The elections on Sunday were for Burkina’s legislature as well as its presidency, where executive power in the former French colony is concentrated.

The paramount court, the Constitutional Council, has a week in which to confirm the outcome.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso is struggling with a jihadist campaign that has claimed at least 1,200 lives since 2015 and forced around a million people to flee their homes.

Opposition parties say the vote was marked by fraud and flawed procedures, threatening to reject “results stained by irregularities.”

Their complaints include polling stations that either did not open or opened late, insecure handling of ballot boxes and arbitrary changes to voting areas.

Because of the unrest, the election was not held across at least one-fifth of the territory, denying up to 350,000 people the right to vote, according to CENI’s figures.

Pro-Kabore parties on Tuesday argued that all candidates were equally affected by the problems and that in any case these were not on a scale to have any major impact on the result.

AFP

US Votes On Trump’s Fate Under Threat Of Election Turmoil

silhouette of Donald Trump
(File Photo) US President Donald Trump (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

 

Americans vote Tuesday in an election amounting to a referendum on Donald Trump and his uniquely brash, bruising presidency that Democratic opponent and frontrunner Joe Biden urged supporters to end, restoring “our democracy.”

The United States is more divided and angry than at any time since the Vietnam War era of the 1970s — and fears that Trump could dispute the result of the election are only fueling those tensions.

Despite an often startlingly laid-back campaign, Biden, 77, leads in almost every opinion poll, buoyed by his consistent message that America needs to restore its “soul” and get new leadership in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 231,000 people.

“I have a feeling we’re coming together for a big win tomorrow,” Biden said in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a vital electoral battleground where he was joined by pop superstar Lady Gaga. “It’s time to stand up and take back our democracy.”

But Trump was characteristically defiant to the end, campaigning at a frenetic pace with crowded rallies in four states on Monday, and repeating his dark, unprecedented claims for a US president that the polls risk being rigged against him.

After almost non-stop speeches in a final three-day sprint, he ended up in the early hours of Tuesday in Grand Rapids, Michigan — the same place where he concluded his epic against-the-odds campaign in 2016 where he defeated apparent frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Despite the bad poll numbers, the 74-year-old Republican real estate tycoon counted on pulling off another upset.

“We’re going to have another beautiful victory tomorrow,” he told the Michigan crowd, which chanted back: “We love you, we love you!”

“We’re going to make history once again,” he said.

Packing Trump’s Bags

While Tuesday is formally Election Day, in reality Americans have been voting for weeks.

With a huge expansion in mail-in voting to safeguard against the Covid-19 pandemic, nearly 100 million people have already made their choice.

Biden has the wind in his sails after indications that Democratic enthusiasm in the early voting may be matching the more visible energy at Trump’s impressive rallies.

In one of US history’s great political gambles, Biden stuck to socially distanced gatherings with small crowds right up to the last moment, in stunning contrast to Trump’s constant, large rallies where few supporters so much as bothered with masks.

But the Democrat, making his third attempt at the presidency, clearly senses that his calmer approach and strict attention to pandemic protocols is what Americans want after four tempestuous years.

“It’s time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home,” Biden told supporters in Cleveland.

“We’re done with the chaos! We’re done with the tweets, the anger, the hate, the failure, the irresponsibility.”

In chilly downtown Pittsburgh, Justine Wolff said she had cast her ballot for Biden already and was cautiously hopeful he would carry Pennsylvania, which along with Florida may be the tightest of all the swing states that decide close national elections.

“I hope that people have seen the writing on the wall,” said the 35-year-old nurse. “We need some kind of change because this isn’t working for anybody.”

But where many early votes are believed to have been cast by Democrats, Trump’s side is hoping for a massive wave of Republican supporters voting in person on Tuesday.

“Whether he wins or loses, this is history,” said Kolleen Wall, who turned out to cheer Trump in Grand Rapids. But “when you come to one of these rallies, all you think is, how could he not win?”

The first polling stations opening were in two New Hampshire villages, Dixville Notch and Millsfield, starting at midnight. Most polling stations on the East Coast were to open at 6:00 am or 7:00 am (1100 or 1200 GMT).

A tiny hamlet of 12 residents in the middle of the forest, near the Canadian border, Dixville Notch has traditionally voted “first in the nation” since 1960.

The vote took minutes, as did the count: five votes for Biden, and none for Trump.

Warning of Violence

Trump himself is planning to visit his campaign headquarters in Virginia on Tuesday, while Biden will travel to his birthplace of Scranton, the scrappy Pennsylvania town where Trump also visited on Monday.

There are worries that if the election is close, extended legal chaos and perhaps violent unrest could ensue — not least because Trump has spent months trying to sap public trust in the voting process in a nation already bitterly divided along political fault lines.

He ramped up these warnings in the final days, focusing especially on Pennsylvania’s rule allowing absentee ballots received within three days after Tuesday to be counted.

In a tweet flagged with a warning label by Twitter on Monday, he said this would “allow rampant and unchecked cheating.”

“It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!” Trump tweeted.

Tanzania Votes In Election Marred By Violence, Fears Of Fraud

Voters check the voter’s roll at a polling station, some begin to cast their votes on October 28, 2020. AFP

 

Tanzanians began casting their ballots Wednesday morning in an election overshadowed by opposition fears the vote will not be free and fair after years of repression under President John Magufuli, who is seeking a second term in office.

In semi-autonomous Zanzibar hundreds of men and women formed separate queues from before dawn in Garagara neighbourhood outside the capital Stone Town, where on Tuesday police fired teargas, live rounds and beat up civilians in the neighbourhood.

Long deemed a haven of stability in East Africa, observers say Tanzania has seen the stifling of democracy and a crackdown on freedom of speech under the 60-year-old Magufuli and his Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, which has been in power since 1961.

In the days leading up to the polls, the opposition said 10 people have died in violence in Zanzibar, while major social media networks — such as WhatsApp and Twitter — have been blocked across Tanzania.

Mnao Haji, 48, queuing to vote in Garagara, said she hoped the election “will be peaceful” despite a history of contested polls.

“During the clashes with police teargas fell inside my house. I screamed, crying, I was helpless,” she said as heavily armed officers and soldiers looked on.

On mainland Tanzania, Magufuli’s main challenger among 15 presidential candidates is Tundu Lissu, 52, of the Chadema opposition party.

He returned to the country in July after three years abroad recovering from 16 bullet wounds sustained in what he believes was a politically-motivated assassination attempt.

Lissu’s return has reinvigorated an opposition demoralised by a ban on political rallies outside of election time, multiple arrests and attacks.

He expressed fears during the campaign that the polls would be rigged, leading to a seven day ban of his rallies for “seditious” language.

“I have witnessed through the campaign that Tanzanians are ready for changes and I believe they will turn out to vote tomorrow,” he said at his final rally Tuesday.

In Tanzania’s capital Dodoma, voters began casting their votes at Jamhuri Secondary School.

“It’s one of my important activities today. I don’t want to miss voting at all,” said Omary Msongolo.

In the northern town of Moshi, near Africa’s highest peak of Kilimanjaro, Nestor Shoo urged the electoral commission to show “impartiality, so that there can be peace”.

The opposition and analysts have expressed serious concerns about the fairness of the election, pointing in particular to a polls body comprising commissioners personally appointed by Magufuli.

‘A Farce’

On Zanzibar, citizens vote for their own president and lawmakers, as well as for the Tanzanian president.

In a boost for the opposition’s chances, Zitto Kabwe, the head of the popular ACT-Wazalendo party, has endorsed Lissu for the presidency on the mainland.

In return, Chadema is backing veteran opposition candidate Seif Sharif Hamad in his sixth bid for the presidency in Zanzibar, this time against CCM candidate Hussein Ali Hassan Mwinyi.

Zanzibar has a history of tense elections plagued with violence and irregularities and the opposition has again accused the ruling party of seeking to steal the vote.

“How can you have an election were you have teargas everywhere and live ammunition? It is in no case a fair election, it is just a farce,” said Hamad.

Increasing intolerance

Magufuli, elected in 2015, at first made wildly popular moves such as curbing foreign travel for government officials or showing up in person to make sure civil servants were doing their work.

Then, he banned political rallies and became increasingly intolerant of dissent.

A series of tough media laws were passed, arrests of journalists, activists and opposition members soared and several opposition members were killed.

Magufuli touts his expansion of free education, rural electrification and infrastructure projects such as railways, a hydropower dam and the revival of the national airline.

However analysts say while the economy grew at an impressive pre-coronavirus average of six percent, there was little job creation and aggressive tax collection has hurt the private sector and made doing business harde. The IMF expects growth to slow to 1.9 percent this year.

The election campaign has taken place with little regard to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tanzania stopped giving out official data on infections in April, and Magufuli has declared the country Covid-free, which he attributes to the power of prayer.

On the mainland, just over 29 million registered voters will cast their ballots, while some 566,000 will vote in Zanzibar from 7 am (0400 GMT) until 4 pm (1300 GMT).

Hundreds Detained, Firearms Used In Third Night Of Belarus Unrest – Police

A police van drives out of a detention centre while allegedly transporting people who were jailed to different terms for participating in recent rallies of opposition supporters, who accuse strongman Alexander Lukashenko of falsifying the polls in the presidential election, in Minsk on August 12, 2020. (Photo by Sergei GAPON / AFP)

 

Police in Belarus said Wednesday they had detained hundreds more people and used firearms against protesters in a third night of violence over a disputed presidential election.

Western governments have condemned the crackdown and the European Union said the bloc’s foreign ministers would discuss Belarus at an extraordinary meeting on Friday.

Protesters rallied again on Tuesday night to contest strongman President Alexander Lukashenko’s claim of having won Sunday’s election, although they were in smaller numbers after police cordoned off city centres and limited transport.

In the capital Minsk, protesters and witnesses said riot police used indiscriminate force against those who did gather, firing stun grenades and rubber bullets in the suburbs.

In the southwestern city of Brest on the Polish border, police said they had used firearms against a group of demonstrators armed with metal bars who had ignored warning shots, wounding one.

“A group of aggressive citizens with metal rods in their hands attacked police employees in Brest” on Tuesday, interior ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova said in statement.

“Firearms were used to protect the lives and health of the employees,” she said, adding that “one of the attackers” was wounded.

The ministry said protesters gathered in 25 cities and towns on Tuesday night and that more than 1,000 people had been detained.

The latest arrests have brought the number of detentions to more than 6,000 after three days of protests.

More than 50 people sought medical assistance, it said.

Chemodanova said there had been smaller gatherings on Tuesday than on the two previous nights.

“The number of protesters was smaller last night, as was the number of cities where protests took place,” she told AFP.

Dozens of people have been wounded in the crackdown and police said that one protester died when an explosive device went off in his hand on Monday night.

– Women form human chain –

The protests broke out after authorities said Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, won 80 percent of the vote in Sunday’s polls.

Election officials said Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a 37-year-old political novice who ran after other potential opposition candidates including her husband were jailed, came second with 10 percent.

Tikhanovskaya said the vote was rigged and claimed victory, demanding that Lukashenko hand over power.

She left Belarus on Tuesday for neighbouring Lithuania, with supporters saying she came under pressure from authorities.

Protesters said Tuesday night’s crackdown in Minsk was especially violent, with videos released on social media showing police kicking protesters lying prone on the ground, smashing cars with truncheons and assaulting passers-by.

Yan, a 28-year-old paramedic from Minsk who has protested every night since the election, said police had become more aggressive.

“Things were scary last night, it was complete lawlessness,” he told AFP. “All of this is aimed at intimidating people so that they keep quiet.”

Oleg Gulak, the head of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee rights group, said he was “stunned by the unprecedented level of cruelty and violence” used against protesters.

“Last night was the scariest night in Belarus’s modern history,” he said.

On Wednesday, several hundred women, many wearing white and holding flowers, joined hands to form a human chain in central Minsk urging an end to police violence.

Hundreds of people also gathered outside a pre-trial detention centre in Minsk in an effort to learn about the fate of missing family members.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Belarus would be discussed at Friday’s extraordinary meeting.

The bloc on Tuesday condemned the election as “neither free nor fair” and Borrell threatened sanctions against “those responsible for the observed violence, unjustified arrests, and falsification of election results.”

AFP

Kanye West’s Presidential Run: Real Or For Show?

In this file photo US rapper Kanye West attends the WSJ Magazine 2019 Innovator Awards at MOMA on November 6, 2019 in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP
In this file photo US rapper Kanye West attends the WSJ Magazine 2019 Innovator Awards at MOMA on November 6, 2019 in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP

 

 

US rapper Kanye West’s chaotic launch of his unlikely campaign to oust Donald Trump in November’s presidential election has sparked anger, concern for his mental health and questions about whether he is seriously running.

Wearing a bullet-proof jacket marked “security,” West broke down in tears during a rambling speech in Charleston, South Carolina on Sunday that was supposed to kickstart his White House bid.

 

Wearing a bullet-proof jacket marked “security,” Kanye West broke down in tears during a rambling speech in Charleston.

 

Instead, controversial comments about renowned American abolitionist Harriet Tubman enraged attendees, provoked scorn online and left political analysts scratching their heads about the mercurial musician’s true intentions.

For Jeffrey McCune, who teaches a course on West at Washington University in St. Louis, the topsy-turvy nature of the event was typical of the hip-hop star.

“All things Kanye are impulsive. I have never been a fan of ‘throw-your-towel-in’ political entries. However, this is Kanye’s brand completely,” he told AFP.

 

US rapper Kanye West’s chaotic launch of his unlikely campaign to oust Donald Trump in November’s presidential election has sparked anger, concern for his mental health and questions about whether he is seriously running. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

 

With “2020” shaved onto his head, West veered between several subjects during the hour-long rant, including claiming that he had wanted his wife, Kim Kardashian, to get an abortion.

But it was his comment that “Harriet Tubman never actually freed the slaves, she just had the slaves go work for other white people,” that grabbed most headlines.

West “has lost his mind,” tweeted historian Kate Clifford Larson, author of “Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero.”

 

Kanye West took to the stage during a campaign rally at North Charleston’s Exquis Event Center in South Carolina on Sunday to reveal that he and his wife Kim Kardashian had considered aborting their daughter.

 

“HARRIET TUBMAN FREED enslaved people. You, Mr West are a jerk and not worthy of uttering Tubman’s name. You have not freed anyone,” Larson wrote.

Tubman is known for helping free dozens of black people from slavery by using a network of activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She fought for the Union in the Civil War, as well.

West also told the event that he had wanted his wife to get an abortion when she was pregnant with North, their oldest daughter. He then revealed his father also had wanted to abort him.

“My dad wanted to abort me. My mom saved my life. There would’ve been no Kanye West because my dad was too busy,” West said, bursting into tears.

He later shouted, “I almost killed my daughter! I almost killed my daughter!”

 

– ‘Provocateur’ –
West’s speech, clips of which went viral on social media, provoked bewilderment, as well as concern for the musician, who has talked about his struggles with bipolar disorder.

The event also offered little insight into what policies he might put forward, although he did propose that “everybody that has a baby gets a million dollars.”

West has also talked about prison reform in the past.

The 43-year-old caused further confusion Monday night by posting a series of cryptic tweets, including one accusing his wife of trying to have him committed to a hospital.

“Kim was trying to fly to Wyoming with a doctor to lock me up like on the movie Get Out because I cried about saving my daughter’s life yesterday,” he wrote, referring to the 2017 thriller.

The tweets were later deleted.

West raised eyebrows on July 4 when he announced on Twitter he would challenge Trump.

He has offered virtually no details about his campaign, but the hip-hop star — who famously wore a “Make America Great Again” cap to a 2018 Oval Office meeting with Trump — said he no longer supports the president.

Reports began circulating in US media last week that West had dropped out of the race.

He missed the deadline in several states to be listed on the presidential ballot, but he is listed on the ballot in Oklahoma.

West needed to collect 10,000 signatures by midday Monday to appear on South Carolina’s ballot.

“Kanye West did not submit a petition,” a spokesperson for the state’s election commission told AFP.

Analysts are reluctant to write off West completely, aware that Trump’s run in 2016 wasn’t considered particularly serious until he won the Republican nomination.

They say West doesn’t have to win the race to influence it.

“Kanye’s personal resources and visibility and track record of generating media attention for himself, he could be the wild card in enough places to have an impact on the race, even if he only gets on the ballot in a few key states,” said Robert Yoon, an elections specialist at the University of Michigan.

McCune says that although he believes West has “many brilliant ideas,” he “will be a minor player in the field, if one at all.”

He describes West, who is due to release a new album this week, as “a performance artist” who may be viewing his run as another show.

“After all, Kanye being a provocateur in many ways has made him more profitable.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

-AFP

Serbian President Claims ‘Historic’ Victory For His Ruling Party

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic addresses the media outside a polling station in Belgrade on June 21, 2020 during an election for a new parliament in Europe’s first national election since the coronavirus pandemic, though few expect major surprises with the ruling party poised to dominate a scattered opposition, some of whom are boycotting the ballot.
ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic claimed a landslide victory for his ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Sunday, taking home more than 63 per cent of the vote in a parliamentary election marred by a boycott from parts of the opposition.

“I am grateful to the people for this historic support,” Vucic, who leads the SNS party, said in a victory speech.

Six Candidates To Run Against Togo President In February Vote

Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara (R) Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe. Photo: ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

 

Six candidates will run against Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe in a presidential election next month, the Constitutional Court said Friday.

The West African country was plunged into political crisis in 2017 and 2018 as protesters demanded term limits for Gnassingbe, who took power in 2015 after his authoritarian father had ruled for 38 years.

However, last year parliament voted for a constitutional change that allowed Gnassingbe, who first became head of state in 2005, to run for a fourth term in the February 22 vote.

He will need to beat six candidates, including Jean-Pierre Fabre, veteran opposition leader and president of the National Alliance for Change (ANC), and Kodjo Agbeyome, head of the Patriotic Movement for Democracy and Development (MPDD).

Fabre alleged massive fraud after he was defeated by Gnassingbe in the last election in 2015, rejecting the official result.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) said last week that 10 candidates had submitted applications to run.

But the Constitutional Court said on Friday that two of the candidates had an insufficient number of voter signatures, while a third withdrew from the race.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in 2017 and 2018 in demonstrations that were violently repressed by security forces, with 15 killed and hundreds arrested, according to unofficial figures.

Around 10,000 police officers and security members of the Presidential Election Security Force (FOSEP) will be deployed across the country to ensure the safety of the February vote.

Guinea-Bissau Electoral Authority Denies Ballot-Stuffing Claims

Voting officials start counting votes at a polling station in the popular Bairro Militar area of the capital Bissau, in Guinea-Bissau on November 24, 2019. Guinea-Bissau voted in a presidential election on November 24 which is hoped to solve a long-running leadership crisis in the coup-prone and impoverished West African country. JOHN WESSELS / AFP

 

Guinea-Bissau’s electoral authority on Monday rejected accusations of ballot fraud in the country’s presidential elections and promised that the vote count would be transparent.

Incumbent Jose Mario Vaz’s campaign team accused rivals of buying votes and stuffing ballot boxes in Sunday’s elections.

Vaz has repeatedly clashed with parliament over who should lead the government, causing severe political deadlock.

The impoverished and coup-ridden West African nation went to the polls in the hope of ending the impasse.

Felisberta Vaz Moura, a spokeswoman for the National Electoral Commission, denied that there had been irregularities on Sunday.

“There was no ballot stuffing” she said, adding that the election “went well” across most of the country.

“We are determined to do everything transparently,” the spokeswoman said.

Fraud was impossible because the count would take place in the presence of candidates’ representatives, she argued.

The mood was tense on voting day, which was marked by sporadic scuffles among supporters of rival political camps

Twelve candidates in total, including Vaz, are running.

Provisional election results are due by Wednesday.

A second round of voting — planned for December 29 — is considered highly likely given the number of candidates.

Guinea-Bissau has a long history of military coups and political assassinations since winning independence from Portugal in 1974. Vaz is the first president in 25 years to finish his term without being ousted or killed.

Supreme Court Verdict: It’s Time To Close Rank, Support Buhari – Oshiomhole

APC National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, addressing a press conference in Abuja on September 5, 2019.

 

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has called on Nigerians to close ranks and support President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration following the Supreme Court’s affirmation of his election victory.

Oshiomhole who was a guest on Channnels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday asked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to rethink.

“I think Nigerians have voted, the Supreme Court has upheld the outcome, it’s time to support and close ranks and queue behind President Muhammdu Buhari.

“Give him all the support he needs. I expect PDP to offer constructive criticism as a loyal opposition and offer policy solutions,” he said.

READ ALSO: We Are Waiting To Know How Supreme Court Arrived At Decision, Says Galadima

When asked to react to a claim made by PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus that the nation is bleeding under this administration, Oshiomhole replied saying: “Nigeria’s future isn’t tied to the PDP.”

Speaking further, he said: “If anything, Buhari came on a rescue mission. Nigeria was on the sliding scale when Buhari came in 2015. So I think it’s twisting the facts upside down.”

While admitting the fact that the nation’s challenges have not been fully addressed, the APC chief blamed the PDP past governments for them.

Recalling that there was excess crude boom, he wondered why the previous administrations would secure loan without justifying the revenue accrued.

His remarks come hours after the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal filed by the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, challenging President Buhari’s victory in the presidential election.

A 7-man panel led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, dismissed Atiku’s appeal for lacking in merit.

Bolivia’s Morales Seeks Fourth Term, Wins First Round In Presidential Election

Bolivian President and presidential candidate for the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) Evo Morales speaks next to his Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera during a press conference after knowing the partial results of the general elections at Quemado presidential palace in La Paz on October 20, 2019. PHOTO: JORGE BERNAL / AFP

 

Evo Morales, seeking a controversial fourth term, led Bolivia’s presidential election race Sunday but faces a historic second-round run-off against opposition rival Carlos Mesa, partial results showed.

Morales had 45 percent of the vote to Mesa’s 38 percent, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal announced, with most of the votes counted.

Elected Bolivia’s first indigenous president in 2005, Morales has won his previous elections in the first round, never having to contest a run-off.

The former coca farmer and leftist union leader has led the poor but resource-rich Latin American country for the past 13 years, though his popularity has waned amid allegations of corruption and authoritarianism.

He will face a stiff challenge from Mesa, a 66-year-old former president who led Bolivia from 2001-2005.

Mesa celebrated “an unquestionable triumph” in getting to the second round, amid cheers from his supporters at his La Paz headquarters.

Morales welcomed his first-round win, telling cheering crowds “we have won again, really, it is something historical, unforgettable”.

South Korean-born evangelical pastor, Chi Hyun Chung, was the surprise package of the election, polling strongly to finish in third place with 8.7 percent.

His support is likely to be influential during campaigning for the second round on December 15.

Controversial fourth term

Morales obtained Constitutional Court permission in 2017 to run again for president even though the constitution allows only two consecutive terms.

A new mandate would keep him in power until 2025.

“Any party, no matter how good it is, if it stays in place for too long, it is corrupt, that’s what we’re going through,” said 22-year-old student Tania Villaroel Lopez as she joined a line of voters near the presidential palace in La Paz.

Roberto Fernandez, 32, came with his wife Denise and their two-year-old daughter to vote at the same place. They said they feared the result of the elections would be manipulated.

“We hope the end result will be respected,” Fernandez said.

Milton Quispe, a student, said he would vote for “Evo, because he has taken care of the poor. He has known how to give us dignity.”

Bolivia’s seven million eligible voters also cast ballots to choose members of the 166-seat congress — 36 senators and 130 deputies.

After voting in his coca-growing district of Chapare, Morales, a member of the Aymara indigenous community, said he was optimistic about his chances and confident in Bolivia’s democracy.

 Opposition distrust

Mesa said he feared a rigged election after he voted in La Paz.

“I don’t trust in the transparency of the process, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal has demonstrated that it’s an operative arm of the government. We have a very high level of distrust,” he told reporters.

Mesa lambasted what he said was Morales’ powerful grip on key organs of state in a meeting with observers from the Organization of American States last week.

As leader of his Movement for Socialism Party (MAS), Morales points to a decade of economic stability and considerable industrialization as his achievements, while insisting he has brought “dignity” to Bolivia’s indigenous population, the largest in Latin America.

But he stands accused of corruption, and many voters are enraged at his refusal to step aside even though the South American country’s constitution bars him from running again.

“Power has replaced policies aimed at the whole population by others that only serve the interests of certain sectors,” political commentator Maria Teresa Zegada told AFP.

“Opposition leaders have been persecuted, all of which has caused citizens unease and given the impression that democracy was in danger.”

Bolivia’s 2009 constitution, promulgated by Morales himself, limits a president to two consecutive terms of office.

In a 2016 referendum, voters defeated Morales’ bid to secure public support to remove term limits, but his government rejected the result.

The constitutional court, stacked with Morales loyalists, ruled it was his right to seek re-election.

He has come under severe criticism this year as wildfires in August and September ravaged Bolivia’s forests and grasslands, with activists saying his policies encouraged the use of blazes to clear farmland.

AFP