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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has raised a fresh alarm over what it described as a plot to tinker with the list of most senior justices of the Supreme Court to sit on the appeal in the presidential election petition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Spokesman for the coalition and National Chairman of the Action Peoples Party, Mr Ikenga Ugochinyere, made the allegation at a news conference on Thursday in Abuja.
“We have it on good authority that the All Progressives Congress (APC) led government has been mounting undue pressure on the Chief Justice of the Federation and, indeed, the entire court to accept an appeal panel and jettison the age-long tradition of the court of selecting the most senior justices of the Supreme Court to sit on the panel,” he told reporters.
He alleged that the CUPP was in possession of a list of handpicked justices of the Supreme Court who would sit on the appeal.
According to the coalition’s spokesman, this is in clear violation of the tradition of selecting seven most senior justices based on seniority.
He also claimed that from 1979 to 2011, the tradition of the apex court was to appoint the seven most senior justices as members of a presidential election appeal.
Ugochinyere insisted that the tradition must be maintained in the interest of justice and fair play.
He said, “The disquiet caused by the APC in the Supreme Court now is a clear desecration of the highest temple of justice in the land. The opposition and most Nigerians will not accept a handpicked panel.
“The opposition wants this age-long tradition of compositing presidential election dispute panel in order of seniority maintained because we do not trust the altering of the seniority list.”
Tunisia’s electoral commission said Wednesday the country’s presidential election runoff would take place on October 13 despite calls to postpone the vote by the party of a jailed frontrunner.
ISIE said campaigning would kick off Thursday for the second and final round of voting, which will see imprisoned media mogul Nabil Karoui face off against independent law professor Kais Saied.
“ISIE can neither advance nor postpone the date of the elections under the constitution,” commission head Nabil Baffoun said.
The spokesman for Karoui, who has been detained since August 23 on charges of money laundering and tax evasion, had called Tuesday night for a suspension of the vote as long as the candidate remains behind bars.
That came as Tunisia’s court of appeal rejected a fresh request for Karoui’s release.
ISIE, international observers and political leaders have called for Karoui to be allowed to campaign fairly.
“We have made every effort to ensure equal opportunities,” Baffoun said.
“We sent letters to the justice ministry, the prosecutor general and even the judge in charge of the case to give Nabil Karoui the opportunity to speak in the media, or even to release him.”
The timing of Karoui’s arrest, 10 days before the start of campaigning, raised questions about the politicisation of the judicial process.
Despite the legal proceedings, Karoui’s candidacy was approved by ISIE and he campaigned by proxy via the Nessma television channel he founded and through his wife.
After the first round of voting on September 15, Saied led with 18.4 percent of votes, according to ISIE, with Karoui in second with 15.6 percent.
Afghans voted in presidential elections amid tight security Saturday, as Taliban insurgents determined to disrupt the process unleashed a string of attacks on polling centres across the country that killed at least five people.
The first-round vote marked the culmination of a bloody election campaign that despite a large field of candidates is seen as a close race between President Ashraf Ghani and his bitter rival Abdullah Abdullah, the country’s chief executive.
Authorities placed Kabul under partial lockdown, flooding streets with troops and banning trucks from entering the city in an effort to stop would-be suicide bombers targeting residents as they cast their votes.
The Taliban, who carried out multiple bombings during the two-month election season, claimed to have conducted hundreds of attacks against Afghanistan’s “fake elections”.
Officials said five security officials had been killed and 37 civilians wounded.
“The enemy carried out 68 attacks against election sites across the country… but security forces repelled most of the attacks,” acting defence minister Asadullah Khalid said.
Compared to previous elections, the initial toll appeared relatively light, though authorities in the past have suppressed information on election day only to later give much larger numbers.
Having voted at a Kabul high school, Ghani said the most important issue was finding a leader with a mandate to bring peace to the war-torn nation.
“Our roadmap (for peace) is ready, I want the people to give us permission and legitimacy so that we pursue peace,” said Ghani, who is seeking a second five-year term.
Some 9.6 million Afghans are registered to vote, but many lack faith that after 18 years of war any leader can unify the fractious country and improve basic living conditions, boost the stagnating economy or bolster security.
Observers from the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said turnout appeared to be low, especially among women.
“I know there are security threats but bombs and attacks have become part of our everyday lives,” 55-year-old Mohiuddin, who only gave one name, told AFP.
“I am not afraid, we have to vote if we want to bring changes.”
Abdullah and Ghani both claimed victory in the 2014 election — a vote so tainted by fraud and violence that it led to a constitutional crisis and forced the administration of then-US president Barack Obama to push for a compromise that saw Abdullah awarded the subordinate role.
“The only request I have from the election commission is that they ensure the transparency of the election because lots of people have lost their trust,” said Afghan voter Sunawbar Mirzae, 23.
Voting in Afghanistan’s fourth presidential election — the first was in 2004 — took place at nearly 5,000 polling centres across the country, and the interior ministry said it had deployed 72,000 forces to help secure these.
Many Afghans said voting went smoothly, triumphantly holding up fingers stained in indelible ink to show they had cast a ballot, but several said they had experienced problems.
“I came this early morning to cast my ballot. Unfortunately, my name was not on the list,” said Ziyarat Khan, a farmer in Nangarhar. “The whole process is messy like the last time.”
Campaigning was hampered by violence from the first day when Ghani’s running mate was targeted in a bomb-and-gun attack that left at least 20 dead.
The campaign itself was muted compared to years past, as many thought the already-twice-delayed election would be postponed again while talks between the US and the Taliban for a troop withdrawal played out.
That deal has been scuppered for now after US President Donald Trump pulled out, and Afghanistan’s next president will likely face the daunting task of trying to strike a bargain with the Taliban.
Election officials say this will be the cleanest election yet, with equipment such as biometric fingerprint readers and better training for poll workers to ensure the vote is fair.
Still, the US has expressed disquiet about the possibility of fraud and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Ghani in a phone call this week that candidates’ behaviour must be “beyond reproach to ensure the legitimacy of the outcome”.
Preliminary results are not expected until October 19. Candidates need more than 50 per cent of the vote to be declared the outright winner, or else the top two will head for a second round in November.
Algeria is to hold a presidential election on December 12, five months into a political vacuum since longtime leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in the face of mass protests, his interim successor announced Sunday.
“I have decided… that the date of the presidential election will be Thursday, December 12,” said Abdelkader Bensalah, who is precluded from standing himself, in a televised address to the nation.
The announcement comes after army chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah, seen as Algeria’s strongman since the fall of the ailing Bouteflika, insisted that polls be held by the end of 2019, despite ongoing protests demanding the creation of new institutions ahead of any elections.
On Friday, Algerian protesters returned to the streets after parliament passed bills paving the way for the announcement of elections.
Demonstrators are demanding key regime figures step down and an overhaul of political institutions before any polls, arguing an election under the current framework would only reinforce the status quo.
Gaid Salah earlier this month called for an electoral college to be summoned on September 15 so as to conduct an election within 90 days, in mid-December.
Last week, parliament passed two bills that would facilitate the announcement of a vote.
Justice Minister Belkacem Zeghmati presented the bills on Wednesday, with both legislative chambers passing them within two days.
Opposition parties in the People’s National Assembly boycotted the session in which the bills were passed.
The first bill proposed the creation of an “independent” election authority, while the second text was a revision of Algeria’s electoral law.
Presidential polls originally planned for July 4 were postponed due to a lack of viable candidates, plunging the country into a constitutional crisis as the 90-day mandate for Bensalah expired in early July.
The army’s high command has rejected any solution to the crisis other than presidential elections “in the shortest possible time”.
The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal has dismissed the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the 2019 Presidential election challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 23 Presidential election.
The five-man panel of the tribunal, led by Justice Mohammed Garba gave the unanimous judgement on Wednesday.
The tribunal dismissed the petition in its entirety and the parties are to bear their respective cost.
“This petition is accordingly and hereby dismissed in its entirety.”
Other members of the tribunal including Justice Peter Olabisi-Ige, Justice Abdul Aboki, Justice Joseph Ikyegh and Justice Samuel Oseji, agreed with the lead judgement.
Justice Garba affirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari is the winner of the 2019 presidential election.
The PDP and Atiku had filed a joint petition on March 18, 2019, specifically asking the tribunal to disqualify Buhari, winner of the February 23 presidential election, on the grounds that he (Buhari) did not possess the requisite academic qualification to contest for the office of President, and the election was marred with irregularities.
Other petitions filed by the petitioners include; deployment of electronic voting, over-voting, substantial non-compliance with the electoral law as well as the use of security agencies to rig the election in favour of Buhari.
The tribunal also dismissed Atiku’s claim that he won the election based on results allegedly transmitted into the INEC sever.
According to the Tribunal, the Kenyan Information and Communication Technology (ICT) expert, David Njorga invited as the 59th witnesses to establish the claim that INEC transmitted results to a server during the last presidential election was based on ‘hearsay’ from a third party.
“The author of the content revealing the information from the said server claimed to be an INEC staff. This to me is unreliable for any information that should be relied on by an expert.
“Whatever he got came from the server belonging to the whistleblower and not INEC. Under cross-examination, he admitted that the information on the website www.factdontlie.com could have been doctored.
“His evidence is hanging on third party information from an unknown source. The law is clear on hearsay evidence,” Justice Garba stated.
The chairman of the tribunal added that the petitioner failed to prove substantial non-compliance of the electoral act in the 11 states complained to have been marred by electoral malpractices.
“They alleged arbitrary allocation of figures, result sheets not showing results of all political parties that participated in the election, intimidation etc.
“In other to prove these, witnesses ought to be called from each of those units who were eyewitnesses to the allegations to testify, but the petitioners did not call witnesses who are tied to the documents tendered. Even at that, the evidence of some polling units called by the petitioners cannot take the place of voters who were said to have been disenfranchised.
“Because there was no eyewitness account and no evidence by the petitioners the court cannot decide in favour of the petitioners as far as allegations of malpractices and irregularities are concerned.”
On other issues, the Chairman resolved that; “The petitioners failed to prove that the security agencies connived with the electoral umpire to assist the APC in manipulating the election results in the 11 states including Kebbi, Nassarawa, Borno etc.
“They also failed to prove that fake policemen were deployed by the APC to Influence the election. They also failed to prove allegations that the president retained the services of the service chiefs to use them to manipulate the election.
“It is their further allegation that in all the states of the federation military and police officers firmed themselves as supporters of the second respondent to attack, harass and stop the supporters of the petitioners from exercising their franchise.”
The tribunal also ruled that most of the witnesses called by the petitioner gave hearsay evidence which is not applicable in proving all the specific allegations and all the criminal allegations contained in the petition.
“There is no admissible evidence on record to back the claims of the petitioners.”
Justice Mohammed Garba started the pre-trial on June 10, 2019, after President of the Appeal Court, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa withdrew from the matter, following calls of partisanship.
The tribunal used a total of 177 out of the 180 days stipulated by section 285 of the 4th alteration of the 1999 constitution.
The judgment which started around 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday ended at 5:58 p.m.
The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal has reserved judgment in the suit filed by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party challenging the election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
A five-man panel of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal headed by Justice Mohammed Garba reserved judgment to a date to be communicated to all the parties involved in the petition.
Dr Levi Uzoukwu, who led the petitioners’ legal team insisted in his final written address that President Buhari’s claim that he submitted his certificates to the Military Board has been controverted by the Secretary to the Military Board.
Lawyers to INEC, President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, however, urged the Tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial cost for lacking in merit and substance. They argued that the nation’s law only requires a candidate to be educated up to secondary school level or its equivalent.