Swiss Vote To Tighten Gun Laws, Safeguard EU Relations

 

The Swiss voted Sunday to toughen their gun laws and bring them in line with EU legislation, heeding warnings that rejecting the move could have threatened relations with the bloc, early results showed.

Exit polls and preliminary results released shortly after polls closed at noon (1000 GMT) indicated that voters overwhelmingly supported reforming Swiss gun laws.

According to projections by the gfs.bern polling institute, the reform received 66-per cent backing in Sunday’s referendum.

A demand from the neighbouring European Union that the Swiss toughen their gun laws has prompted a rare national debate over firearm ownership in the wealthy Alpine nation, which has a deeply-rooted gun culture.

READ ALSO: Huawei Will Not Bow To US Pressure – Founder

While the government has cautioned that the new legislation is crucial to the non-EU country maintaining its treaties with the bloc, the proposal sparked fierce pushback from the gun lobby and shooting enthusiasts, who gathered enough signatures to trigger a vote under Switzerland’s famous direct democratic system.

Brussels changed its own weapons laws two years ago following a wave of deadly terrorist attacks across Europe, slapping bans on certain types of semi-automatic firearms.

While not an EU member, Switzerland is bound to the bloc through an array of intricately connected bilateral agreements.

Bern had cautioned that a “No” vote would lead to Switzerland’s exclusion from the visa-free Schengen travel region and also the Dublin accords regulating Europe’s asylum-seeking process.

This would have far-reaching consequences for security, asylum and even tourism, and would cost the country “several billion Swiss francs each year,” it said.

The shooting enthusiasts behind Sunday’s referendum meanwhile claim the government warnings are “exaggerated”.

“It is a shame that the people fell for the scare-tactics over Schengen,” Olivia de Weck, a Swiss army captain and the vice president of the ProTell gun lobby, told the ATS news agency after the first projections landed.

 ‘Exceptional authorisation’ 

The strong gun culture in Switzerland is partially tied to its tradition of national defence service, as most Swiss men undergo obligatory military service between the ages of 18 and 30 and are allowed to keep their assigned weapon when they are done.

It is difficult to know exactly how many firearms are in circulation in Switzerland since guns are registered regionally and there is no national registry.

But according to a 2017 report by the Small Arms Survey, the country boasts the world’s 16th highest rate of gun ownership, with some 2.3 million firearms in civilian hands — nearly three for every 10 inhabitants.

Under the new gun law, which has already been approved by legislators, semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines would be listed as “banned”.

Collectors and sports shooters could still purchase such weapons, but would need to jump through more hoops to obtain an “exceptional authorisation”.

Another issue put to a national referendum Sunday — a government proposal to overhaul the country’s corporate tax system and pump more cash into its pension system — also appeared to have garnered significant support.

Since most people in Switzerland vote in advance, the final results are usually tallied by mid-afternoon.

AFP

British MPs Seek New Path For Brexit

MPs fill the House of Commons in London on March 29, 2019 after they rejected her EU Withdrawl deal for a third time.  PRU / AFP

 

British MPs will attempt to chart a new Brexit path on Monday after rejecting Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal for a third time, leaving her strategy in tatters and the country in limbo.

With less than two weeks to go until the day Britain risks crashing out of the European Union, MPs will hold a series of votes to try and find a majority-backed plan to end the current crisis.

Britain voted by 52 per cent to leave the EU in a 2016 referendum but the process has been mired in divisions between Brexit supporters over the terms of the divorce and what kind of future ties to seek.

The government struck a deal with the EU in November, but parliament has refused to ratify it — forcing the government to seek a delay to the originally planned departure date of March 29.

The EU’s offer of an extension until May 22 was conditional on MPs approving the deal last week.

Despite May’s promise to step down if they voted for the deal — an attempt to get Brexit hardliners to vote for it –, they failed to do so.

 No more delay 

The government must now make a new request to the European Union at an extraordinary summit on April 10 or leave the bloc without a deal on April 12 with potentially chaotic economic consequences.

A longer delay beyond May 22 would have the bizarre consequence of Britain having to hold European Parliament elections like other member states.

Parliament seized the initiative for one day last week but failed to unite around a single option that could replace May’s deal.

Frustration is growing within the bloc, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Sunday telling an Italian TV station that the EU is running out of patience with Britain.

“With our British friends we have had a lot of patience, but even patience is running out,” Juncker told Italian public TV channel Rai 1 on Sunday.

“Up to now, we know what the British parliament says no to, but we do not know what it says yes to.”

However, there appears to be momentum behind a plan to seek a deal that would see Britain stay in some kind of customs union with the European Union.

While this may satisfy the pro-EU members of May’s cabinet, it threatens mass rebellion among the rest of her ministers, posing a serious threat to the government’s survival.

Brexit-supporting minister Andrea Leadsom has organised a letter signed by 10 cabinet members demanding that there be no further extension beyond May 22, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The letter also spells out that May must stand by her party’s manifesto pledge to leave the customs union in order to be able to strike post-Brexit trade deals with other countries.

 General election threat 

Agreeing to seek a customs union, if demanded by MPs, could, therefore, trigger a mass ministerial walkout.

But so could ignoring MPs’ instructions, with pro-EU ministers having already quit voting against the government.

All of which leaves a general election looking ever more likely, with May herself last week warning after the third rejection of her deal that “I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House”.

Conservative MPs across the board said they would block such a move, which requires two-thirds support in parliament.

Polling on Sunday signalled why.

The party has slipped seven per cent, according to the Sunday Mail, putting Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour on course to be the largest party if an election were held.

Conservative Party deputy chairman James Cleverly said on Sunday that the party was not preparing for a snap election.

“I don’t think an election would solve anything. Time is of the essence, we have got Brexit to deliver. We don’t want to add any more unnecessary delay,” he told Sophy Ridge on Sky News.

The slip in support coincides with the party’s failure to deliver Brexit on March 29, upsetting its supporters who voted heavily in favour of leaving the EU.

The poll also found narrow support for a second referendum.

May is also facing mass calls from her own MPs to quit immediately as leader of the party — and country — rather than wait until the divorce phase of Brexit has been resolved, as promised.

She has yet to give up on her deal despite it being rejected three times by parliament and is reportedly considering whether to bring it back for a fourth vote, potentially this week.

AFP

British MPs Reject Brexit Deal For Third Time

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament’s Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows MPs filling the House of Commons in London on March 29, 2019 after they rejected her EU Withdrawl deal for a third time.  PRU / AFP

 

British MPs on Friday rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal for leaving the European Union for a third time, raising the spectre of a “no deal” exit or a long delay to the process.

Lawmakers in parliament’s lower House of Commons defied May’s plea to end the political deadlock that has plunged Britain into crisis, and defeated her withdrawal agreement by 344 votes to 286.

It is yet another blow to a prime minister who has all but lost control of her government and the Brexit process — particularly after she offered to quit if MPs backed the deal.

Britain had been due to leave the EU on Friday, the long-heralded March 29 “Independence Day”, but faced with chaos in Westminster, May asked European leaders last week for a little more time.

She now faces having to return in the coming days to explain what happens next, with speculation in Brussels of an emergency summit on April 10 or 11.

The EU has set a deadline for April 12 for a decision, with two likely options: Britain leaves with no deal at all, or agrees a lengthy extension to allow time for a new approach.

May has said it would be “unacceptable” to ask voters to take part in forthcoming European Parliament elections, three years after they voted in a 2016 referendum to leave the EU.

But while “no deal” remains the default legal option, MPs have repeatedly voted against this, fearing catastrophe if Britain severs ties with its closest trading partner with no plan in place.

 DUP holdouts 

The failure by parliament to agree the terms of its exit from European Union has left Britain in limbo, with business leaders and trade unions warning of a “national emergency”.

Voters are divided, many of them anxious and angry, and May blames MPs — but they in turn accuse her of refusing to countenance any alternative to her unpopular deal.

“She is, frankly, unable to govern,” opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said, urging her “either to listen and change course or to go”.

Tired of waiting, MPs this week gave themselves unprecedented powers to vote on a range of options for Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

A prosal for a new customs union got close to passing in a first round on Wednesday, as did a plan for a referendum on May’s deal, with more voting planned next Monday and Wednesday.

The risk that MPs decide to agree closer ties to the EU, or even stop it altogether, has focused the minds of some Brexit supporters, who reluctantly agreed to back May’s deal.

Her offer on Wednesday to quit if it passes also helped persuade some of her staunchest critics, including former foreign minister Boris Johnson.

But others refused, including May’s Northern Irish allies, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which says planned arrangements for the Irish border after Brexit are unacceptable.

“We are not prepared to see our constitutional position altered by Brussels in a fit of pique for daring to leave the EU,” said MP Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman.

 Snap election? 

May’s offer to quit fired the starting gun on an informal race for the leadership of her Conservative party.

Her resignation was dependent on getting the divorce deal passed — and she might try one last time to get her deal through.

Even so, her days are numbered.

Getting another vote on a deal would be tricky, as parliament speaker John Bercow has already warned he will not let her bring the same deal back again and again.

Under an agreement struck with EU leaders last week, Britain would have left on May 22 if MPs approved the deal this week.

Officials believe there is still a chance that, if she can get it through before April 12, this date is still possible.

However, speculation is also growing that the only way out of the impasse is a snap election.

AFP

UK Lawmakers Hold Crucial Vote On Brexit Deal

MP’s waiting for the result of the second meaningful vote on the government’s Brexit deal, in the House of Commons in London on March 12, 2019. PRU / AFP

 

MPs were holding a momentous third vote Friday on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal, which could end a months-long crisis or risk Britain crashing out of the EU in two weeks.

Parliament has twice rejected May’s withdrawal agreement, both times by large margins, but has been unable to agree any alternative — and time is running out.

The pivotal vote is taking place on the day Britain was supposed to leave the European Union until May asked the bloc’s leaders last week for more time.

“This is the last opportunity to guarantee Brexit,” May told parliament as she closed several hours of debate.

“It avoids a long extension which would at least delay and could destroy Brexit.”

But Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party would oppose the deal.

“The Labour Party will not play roulette with this country’s future,” he said.

In a last-ditch bid to garner the support of discontented Conservative colleagues, May dramatically promised Wednesday to resign if the deal passed.

She appealed to Brexit supporters to back her, saying that under the postponement plan agreed with Brussels, approval on Friday could see Britain out of the bloc on May 22.

 ‘Painful vote’ 

But if the deal falls again, she must set out a new plan to EU leaders — with the options including a potentially catastrophic “no deal” Brexit as early as April 12, or a lengthy delay.

Her sacrifice swayed some of her critics, including former foreign minister Boris Johnson, a potential leadership contender.

He had objected in particular to the deal’s “backstop” provisions to keep the Irish border free-flowing after Brexit.

“It is very painful to vote for this deal. But I hope we can now work together to remedy its defects, avoid the backstop trap and strive to deliver the Brexit people voted for,” Johnson wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, who in November resigned in opposition to the agreement and is also eyeing a leadership bid, said he also would now back it.

“I cannot countenance an even longer extension and I cannot countenance having European elections in May,” he told MPs.

But more than a dozen Conservative lawmakers still publicly oppose May’s deal.

Her Northern Irish allies, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), also continue to insist its arrangements for the Irish border are unacceptable.

 ‘National emergency’ 

Britain is leaving the EU after 46 years of membership following a divisive 2016 referendum in which voters decided 52 to 48 percent for Brexit.

But MPs are gridlocked on how to implement the result, reflecting the nationwide divisions that persist on the issue.

Protesters from both sides of the divide massed under clear blue skies in Westminster on Friday, with flags, banners and Scottish pipe bands creating a colourful scene.

Around 1,000 ardent Leave supporters on a two-week, 270-mile (435-kilometre) march from northeast England were also set to arrive outside parliament.

“There is a democratic mandate to leave on the 29th of March,” marcher Kate Abley, a 53-year-old former teacher, told AFP as the group neared their final destination.

Outside the British parliament, the political chaos has led business leaders and trade unions to warn of a “national emergency”.

May admits her agreement, reached last November during more than 18 months of negotiations, is a compromise but insists it is the best available.

It covers citizens’ rights, Britain’s financial settlement, plans for the Irish border and a transition period to the end of 2020.

 ‘Completely blind’ 

MPs were not originally due to sit on Friday but the government called an emergency session.

Lacking DUP support, May will have to rely on opposition Labour votes to get her deal through, but leader Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to vote against her.

The government has decided to put only one part of the Brexit package to MPs Friday, separating out the withdrawal terms from an accompanying political declaration on future ties.

Another vote on the political declaration, which is not legally binding, will be required for Brexit to happen.

The government said Friday that would happen “within the next few days”.

AFP

Parliament Support ‘Not Sufficient’ For Third Brexit Vote – May

May On Last-Gasp Mission To Save Brexit Plan
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement inside 10 Downing Street in London on March 20, 2019, following her request to EU leaders to extend Brexit until June 30. Jonathan Brady / POOL / AFP

 

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday said there was “still not sufficient support” in parliament for her to bring her Brexit deal back to parliament for a third vote.

“As things stand there is still not sufficient support in the House to bring back the deal for a third meaningful vote,” May told parliament, voicing hope that this could change later in the week.

“I continue to have discussions with colleagues from across the House to build support so we can bring the vote forward this week,” she said.

READ ALSO: British PM May To Meet Ministers Amid Reported Moves To Oust Her

May said the government would provide time to allow MPs to debate and vote on Brexit alternatives to find a plan that could command a majority in parliament.

But she warned it would be an “unwelcome precedent to set, which would overturn the balance of our democratic institutions.

“I am sceptical about such a process of indicative votes,” she added.

“When we have tried this kind of thing in the past, it has produced contradictory outcomes or no outcomes at all.”

AFP

[UPDATE] Security Beefed Up As Counting Commences In Kaduna

Security Operatives on patrol n Kaduna State after the elections on March 9, 2019. Photos: Channels TV/Sodiq Adelakun.

 

Collation and counting of votes have commenced in some Polling Units across the country as voting has come to an end.

One of such states is Kaduna, and security has been beefed up as the counting process commenced.

See highlights below.

Counting continues into the night.

One Killed, Two Injured In Oyo

 

One person has been killed and two others injured in a shootout that occurred in Ibadan South East Local Government Area of Oyo State.

The incident which occurred at Ward 2, Units 13 and 14 in Lako compound was said to have happened at around 3.30pm on Saturday.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, Shina Olukolu, confirmed the development to Channels Television.

Residents of the area who witnessed the incident also told Channels Television that the hoodlums showed up while officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were counting the votes and began to shoot sporadically before carting away ballot papers.

READ ALSO: Police Confirm Killing Of Soldier In Rivers Violence

Narrating how the incident unfolded, the assistant presiding officer 3 in the wards, Ibrahim Olaoye, said, “Actually, we had been counting votes because everybody had cast their votes. We were counting senatorial votes when I started hearing gunshots and everybody just left.

“They (the hoodlums) have gone with it (the votes cast). That’s what I can say. We brought three ballot boxes, they have gone with it,” he added.

Although some security operatives were present, they declined to speak on the matter.

General Elections: NOA Launches Nationwide Campaign Against Invalid Votes

General Elections: NOA Launches Nationwide Campaign Against Invalid Votes

 

The National Orientation Agency (NOA) has flagged off a nationwide sensitisation campaign to tackle the incidence of invalid and voided votes in the 2019 general elections.

NOA Director General, Garba Abari, explained that the campaign was necessary as about three million invalid and void votes were recorded in the 2015 presidential election.

He told a gathering on Thursday at an event to launch the campaign in Owerri, the Imo State capital, that the figure outnumbered the difference between the votes of the winner and the runner up in the poll.

Mr Abari identified the incidence of voided votes as a matter of concern to stakeholders in the country, as the number of voided votes was so high in most cases that it could sway the results of elections.

He was hopeful that the prevailing occurrence can be brought to its barest minimal with the nationwide campaign against voided votes.

The NOA boss said aside from the challenge of void votes, the agency was also concerned about the issue of vote buying and selling.

He warned that this can derail the nation’s democratic process if not tackled through mass sensitisation and awareness creation.

Mr Abari noted that the 2019 election has the highest number of presidential candidates and political parties in the history of polls in the country.

According to him, this will affect the size and length of the ballot paper, therefore, making voter education on invalid votes very important.

The NOA DG called on all political parties to educate their supporters on identifying their party’s logo to minimising the incidence of invalid votes.

He also asked voters to listen carefully to the instructions of the presiding officer at the polling units and ensure they append their thumbprint inside their preferred political party’s box.

Mr Abari said no voter should leave his/her box empty and ensure thumbprint in only one box and within the space provided for a preferred candidate.

NOA Director in Imo, Vitus Ekeocha, who also addressed the gathering said the agency has the mandate to ensure free, fair and credible elections through public enlightenment.

He added that they would ensure the votes of the electorate count by sensitising them on how to reduce the incidence of voided votes.

On its part, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) believes the electorate must first get their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs).

The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mr Francis Ezeonu, disclosed that 637,179 people have yet to collect their PVCs out of the 2,270,216 registered voters in Imo.

He, therefore, urged the residents to come for their PVCs in order to exercise their franchise as provided by the Constitution.

Also present at the event were representatives of Civil society groups, religious leaders, and traditional rulers, among other stakeholders.

DR Congo Curbs French Radio Station In Tension Vote

 

DR Congo on Wednesday said it had pulled accreditation for a French radio journalist and cut off the station’s broadcasts amid tensions over the counting of votes in crucial elections.

The authorities said accreditation for the Radio France Internationale (RFI) correspondent in Kinshasa, Florence Morice, had been withdrawn.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende accused Morice of violating electoral law and “the code of good conduct for foreign journalists covering the elections”.

Accusing the station of stirring controversy, he said, “RFI’s broadcasts have been cut off in all of Congo’s cities.”

“We are not going to let a radio station throw petrol on the flames at a time when we are waiting for the compilation of the provisional results,” Mende said.

RFI, a French public-service broadcaster, has a very large audience in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a French-speaking country of around 80 million people.

It has been closely covering Sunday’s presidential elections and the marathon vote tally.

RFI issued a statement saying its coverage had been impartial and expressing full support for Morice.

She had been “merely working as a professional journalist,” it said, and urged the authorities to reverse their decision to withdraw her accreditation.

On Tuesday, RFI said that its broadcasts had been blocked since Monday evening.

 Suspicions 

The elections will determine who succeeds President Joseph Kabila, at the helm of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country for nearly 18 years.

Kabila refused to step down after his two-term constitutional limit ended in 2016, sparking protests that were quelled at the cost of scores of lives.

Among the DRC’s opposition, suspicions run deep that the vote will be rigged to let his preferred successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, be declared a winner.

Mende said RFI had been “declaring results (and) trends” as the vote count unfolded.

“Only the head of CENI can proclaim” these, he said, referring to the Independent National Electoral Commission, in charge of overseeing the elections and the count.

On Monday, the authorities cut off access to the internet, a move that opposition activists said sought to gag communications and stifle transparency.

An adviser to Kabila, Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, said the move targetted the dissemination of “fake figures” to avert a “popular uprising.”

The European Union, United States, Canada and Switzerland urged the government to restore access.

The DRC has a long history of turmoil, and many fear a bloodbath if the elections go badly wrong.

The mineral-rich country has never had a peaceful handover of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Millions of people died from fighting, starvation and disease in two full-fledged wars between 1996 and 2003, and bloodshed marred elections in 2006 and 2011.

Preliminary results are due by Sunday, and definitive results by January 15, with the next head of state due to be sworn in January 18. Legislative and municipal elections took place alongside the presidential ballot.

According to a survey by Afriscope/TNS Sofres quoted by RFI, the French radio station has 40 percent of listeners in the DRC.

AFP

#OsunDecides: SDP’s Omisore Votes

Social Democratic Party’s candidate in Osun State Governorship election, Senator Iyiola Omisore

 

 The candidate of the Social Democratic Party in the Osun State governorship election, Senator Iyiola Omisore, has cast his vote.

Omisore exercised his franchise shortly after the Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) did same.

see photos here:

Social Democratic Party’s governorship candidate in Osun State Governorship election, Senator Iyiola Omisore

 

EU Parliament Votes To Stop Hungary’s ‘Threat’ To Democracy

Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session during a plenary session at the European Parliament on September 12, 2018, in Strasbourg, eastern France. FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP

 

 

 

The European Parliament on Wednesday launched an action that could unleash unprecedented political sanctions against Viktor Orban’s populist Hungarian government for posing a “systemic threat” to the EU’s founding values.

The vote amounts to a stunning political blow for Prime Minister Orban, who had told the parliament on Tuesday that a scathing report leading to the vote was an insult to Hungary’s honor and people.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto wasted little time in slamming the vote as “nothing less than the petty revenge of pro-immigration politicians”.

With elections for a new parliament in May 2019, the vote reflects growing pushback among traditional parties in Europe against the rise of populists, who oppose migration and are accused of undermining the rule of law.

Adopted by 448 votes for to 197 against and with 48 abstentions, the motion marked the first time the parliament has itself initiated steps under Article Seven of the European Union’s treaty. An earlier action against Poland was initiated by the EU executive.

Dutch Greens MEP Judith Sargentini, who spearheaded the vote, smiled broadly and breathed a sigh of relief before embracing her supporters in parliament in the French city of Strasbourg.

“It is a positive sign of this parliament taking responsibility and wanting action,” Sargentini told a press conference afterward.

She had urged colleagues not to let Hungary off the hook, declaring that Orban’s rule “violates the values on which this union was built.”

The vote was based on a report that voiced concerns about judicial independence, corruption, freedom of expression, academic freedom, religious freedom, and the rights of minorities and refugees under eight years of Orban rule.

The vote takes the first steps under Article 7 of the EU treaty, known by some in Brussels as the “nuclear option”, which could ultimately strip Hungary of its voting rights.

Other EU governments could halt any further action, however, and Poland has warned it would do so.

– ‘Historic vote’ –

In a brief speech to parliament on Tuesday, Orban vowed that Hungary would resist any attempt to “blackmail” it into softening its anti-migrant stance, which he charged was the motive behind the vote.

Though defiant, he was resigned to the outcome, saying the parliament seemed to have already made up its mind.

“Hungary will protect its borders, stop illegal migration and defend its rights,” said Orban, who embraces a vision of a Christian Europe and opposes an influx of Muslims and others.

Opposition to Orban’s vision does not just come from the left, with disquiet also in the main centre-right parliamentary group, the European People’s Party (EPP).

The EPP’s leader, Manfred Weber, said he would vote in favor of the motion targeting Orban’s government, whose Fidesz party belongs to his grouping.

But a party spokesman said the group was divided about 50-50.

While Orban’s actions have provoked opposition, they have been applauded by populists in the EU, with prominent far-right figures floating the idea of forging a pan-European alliance ahead of next year’s elections.

The Commission, headed by EPP member Jean-Claude Juncker, has repeatedly clashed with Orban’s government, especially since Budapest refused to admit asylum seekers under an EU scheme launched at the height of the migration crisis in 2015.

In July, the EU executive body warned it could take Budapest to the European Court of Justice over laws under which anyone assisting an undocumented migrant could be jailed for a year.

The top EU court could impose fines, which would be less drastic for Hungary than losing its voting rights.

The vote was hailed as “historic” by Berber Biala-Hettinga, Amnesty International’s expert on human rights in the EU.

“The European Parliament rightly stood up for the Hungarian people and for the EU. They made it clear that human rights, the rule of law and democratic values are not up for negotiation,” she said.

AFP

Jonathan Inaugurates Campaign Organisation

JonathanPresident Goodluck Jonathan has inaugurated his campaign organisation and once again assured Nigerians and the international community that the general elections would be free, fair and credible.

The President gave the assurance in Abuja, the nation’s capital on Tuesday at the inauguration ceremony.

President Jonathan said the election would ensure continuity of democracy in the oil rich nation.

He enjoined other party leaders to encourage members of the campaign organisation to ensure that all campaigns were issue-based.

The president also commissioned campaign vehicles for the election, marking the beginning of the party’s campaign ahead of the elections that will hold in February.

With just over 30 days to the elections, the party will be going round the country to meet with Nigerians, canvass for votes and ensure victory for the party in next month’s elections.

The inauguration was earlier scheduled to hold on monday but it was shifted by the President following the death of his younger sister, Mrs. Nancy Jonathan-Obei.

The dignitaries, who had gone to the Legacy House, the president’s campaign headquarters in Maitama, waited until 3:00pm for the arrival of the President, only to be told that the inauguration had been suspended.