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Posts tagged ‘Africa Section’

Kenyan president leads in nearly complete election results

August 09, 2017

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was leading challenger Raila Odinga by a significant margin Wednesday in nearly complete election results, but the opposition said the counting process was flawed and disputed the tally.

The website of Kenya’s election commission showed Kenyatta with 54.8 percent and opposition leader Odinga with 44.4 percent after votes were counted from more than 35,000 of the 40,833 polling stations. The commission did not release information about which constituencies had been counted, although Kenyan television news channels later showed results from individual areas that confirmed Kenyatta’s lead.

The election body’s omission of constituency results prompted sharp criticism from Odinga, who also ran against Kenyatta in the 2013 vote and unsuccessfully challenged the results in court with allegations of vote-tampering. The longtime opposition figure also ran in the 2007 election, which was followed by violence fueled by ethnic divisions that killed more than 1,000 people.

“A clean credible process would by now have a dashboard showing all tallies from all constituencies to add to a sum total so that country can know which part of the country has been counted and what the votes are,” Odinga said in a statement Wednesday.

“The system has failed,” Odinga said. He added that the election commission “has just said that no parties have disputed the results. How do parties dispute results which they do not even know their origins?”

Election officials acknowledged the opposition objection, but defended their actions. “We believe that by displaying results, we have been doing well to enhance transparency and accountability in the electoral process, consistent with the commitment the commission has made to the Kenya people,” said commissioner Consalata Bucha Nkatha Maina, vice chairwoman of the election commission.

The commission’s CEO, Ezra Chiloba, also said a results screen at the commission’s counting center had frozen because too much data was being received, and that tallies would be updated later Wednesday morning.

A similar situation with a systems failure in the 2013 election led to Odinga’s legal challenge at the time, though Kenya’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of Kenyatta by validating the results. Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of Kenya’s first president after independence from British colonial rule, campaigned this year on a record of major infrastructure projects, many backed by China, and claimed strong economic growth. Odinga, 72, also the son of a leader of the independence struggle, cast himself as a champion of the poor and a harsh critic of endemic corruption.

However, many voters were expected to vote along ethnic lines. Kenyatta is widely seen as the candidate of the Kikuyu people, the country’s largest ethnic group. Odinga is associated with the Luo voting bloc, which has never produced a head of state. There were six other presidential candidates, though they lack the wide support of the top two.

The winner of the presidential race must get more than 50 percent of the votes as well as one-quarter or more votes in at least 24 of Kenya’s 47 counties, according to officials. If the front-runner falls short of those benchmarks, the two top contenders will contest a runoff vote.

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is the chief election observer for The Carter Center, described Tuesday’s vote as “an inspiring day in Kenya watching democracy in action.” “Enthusiastic voters not fazed by long lines,” he tweeted.

Ethiopia lifts state of emergency imposed in October

August 04, 2017

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Ethiopia’s government on Friday lifted a state of emergency imposed in October after hundreds of people were killed in anti-government protests demanding wider political freedoms. It was some of the country’s worst violence since the ruling party came to power in 1991.

Lawmakers in the East African nation voted to end the emergency law that restricted a number of rights and led to the arrests of more than 21,000 people. It also hurt one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

More than 600 people were killed in nearly a year of protests that first ignited in the Oromia region and spread into the Amhara region and the capital, Addis Ababa. Demands included an end arbitrary arrests and respect for regional autonomy.

The state of emergency was imposed after a deadly stampede at a religious celebration in October as police confronted protesters. The emergency law was extended in March. “We have been able to deal with armed terrorists, anti-peace elements and troublemakers,” Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa said, adding that the government was now able to deal with “a few” remaining security threats.

The minister said more than 8,000 people are still behind bars and are being prosecuted for crimes they are accused of committing during the unrest. Rights groups have claimed that many people were beaten and subjected to arbitrary detentions under the emergency law. The government has maintained that those arrested by mistake were released and those who unwillingly took part in the unrest were released after what it described as “trainings.”

Restrictions under the state of emergency included arbitrary arrests without court orders; limits on radio, television and theater; and dawn-to-dusk prohibitions on unauthorized movements around infrastructure facilities and factories.

UN report details killings, butchery in Congo this year

August 04, 2017

GENEVA (AP) — U.N. human rights investigators have issued a new report documenting the killings of more than 250 people, including 62 children, in central Congo over three recent months that could turn into “wider ethnic cleansing.”

The investigators based the report on interviews in June of 96 people who fled Congo’s Kasai provinces into neighboring Angola. It decried alleged violence involving a new militia, Bana Mura, backed by Congolese security officials.

U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein urged Congo’s government to “act now to prevent such violence from tipping into wider ethnic cleansing.” His office also called on militia groups to lay down their weapons, and provided photos of survivors with long scars and dismembered limbs. Zeid described accounts of “the screams of people being burned alive” and others who were “cut down.”

“Interviewees indicated that local security forces and other officials actively fomented, fueled, and occasionally led, attacks on the basis of ethnicity,” a U.N. statement said. Violence in the Kasai region by the Kamwina Nsapu militia erupted last August with the killing of a regional tribal leader who had defied the government of President Joseph Kabila.

Based on the accounts from people who fled between March and June, the report counted 251 killings, attributing 150 of them to the Bana Mura and another 79 to the Kamwina Nsapu. Government forces were blamed for another 22.

In far higher numbers, the Catholic church has estimated more than 3,300 people have died in the fighting since the tribal leader was killed in a military operation a year ago. The violence in the once-calm Kasai region comes on top of a broadly unstable situation in Congo, which has faced years of tensions and bloodshed in the east and where Kabila’s government has defied international calls for Congo to hold elections as required under its constitution. The government says it needs more time.

Rwandans vote in presidential election

August 04, 2017

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — Rwandans voted in an election Friday that the country’s longtime president is widely expected to win. President Paul Kagame is running against Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda — the only permitted opposition party — and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana.

There were long queues in some parts of the capital Kigali, where all the candidates are registered to vote. At some polling stations, music was being played urging the voters to choose the candidate who will transform the country and unite all Rwandans.

Kagame, who won the 2010 election with 93 percent of the vote, told a rally in July that “the day of the presidential elections will just be a formality.” “Even the critics will tell you Kagame is an extraordinary leader who walks the talk,” Kigali resident Charles Karemera said after voting at the city’s Amahoro Stadium.

The 59-year-old Kagame has been de-facto leader or president of the nation of 12 million people since his rebels ended the 1994 genocide. While he remains popular for presiding over economic growth, critics accuse him of using the powers of the state to remove perceived opponents.

Rwandan authorities, including Kagame, deny critics’ claims that the government targets dissidents for assassination or disappearances. Presidential candidates were barred from putting campaign posters in most public places, including schools and hospitals. The electoral commission has vetted candidates’ campaign messages, warning that their social media accounts could be blocked otherwise.

Three potential candidates for Friday’s election were disqualified by the electoral commission for allegedly failing to fulfill certain requirements, including collecting enough signatures. A constitutional amendment after a referendum in 2015 allows Kagame to stay in power until 2034 if he pursues it.

Rwanda has about 6.9 million registered voters. More than 44,000 Rwandans living outside the country voted Thursday. Polls close at 3 p.m. local time, and provisional results are expected later on Friday, said Charles Munyaneza, executive secretary of the Rwanda Electoral Commission.

France seeks to exclude African Union from Libya crisis

August 3, 2017

In meetings with Libyan officials last week, France set out its plan for resolving the Libya crisis without providing a role for the African Union (AU).

Algeria has previously called for the AU to play its role in resolving the unrest in Libyan, however

France has not only isolated the African Union, but has also excluded a country whose role can be seen as pivotal in resolving the Libyan crisis for historical considerations said Jeune Afrique, which is known for its close ties to political circles in France.

The “excluded” country is said to be Italy which launched a campaign through its Minister of Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano against the French initiative that excluded all parties involved in the Libyan crisis.

Paris, under the rule of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, was the sponsor of the Atlantic military intervention, which aimed to overthrow the late Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi. Now Paris seeks to build camps for illegal immigrants in Libya to prevent them from reaching Europe.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170803-france-seeks-to-exclude-african-union-from-libya-crisis/.

Kenya leader ‘deeply shocked’ at election official’s killing

August 01, 2017

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya’s president said Tuesday he is “deeply shocked” by the torture and killing of an election official who was crucial to next week’s presidential vote, while concerns grew that the election again will face dangerous unrest.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Twitter that investigations into Christopher Msando’s killing should be allowed to “proceed calmly,” and he warned against “careless speculation.” Msando was in charge of managing information technology systems at the electoral commission. He had publicly sought to reassure voters that the results of the Aug. 8 election would not be tampered with.

Analysts have warned that further violence could accompany the hotly contested election in which Kenyatta is running again. The country’s elections have turned violent in the past, notably after the 2007 vote that international observers said was flawed. More than 1,000 people died.

The main opposition group has charged that Kenyatta wants to rig the upcoming election, an accusation the presidency has denied. The National Super Alliance called Msando’s death an assassination and an attempt to disrupt the vote.

The U.S. and British diplomats in Kenya have expressed grave concern about Msando’s death and offered the Kenyan government assistance in investigating. Hundreds of activists on Tuesday marched peacefully to the electoral commission to protest the killing. A former government official turned whistleblower, John Githongo, said there was plenty of reason to believe Msando’s death was related to the election.

The electoral commission chairman, Wafula Chebukati, has called the death a “brutal murder” and called for security for all commission staff. “Let us remember Chris by voting peacefully,” Chebukati told Tuesday’s gathering. The commission “shall ensure that the ground for voting on the eighth of August is level for everyone. So we can remember Chris best by participating in free, fair and credible elections.”

Kenya’s police chief Joseph Boinnet has said a special team from the Directorate of Criminal investigations has been set up to investigate Msando’s murder.

French president vows support in Africa anti-extremist fight

July 02, 2017

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — France’s president on Sunday promised strong support for a new multinational military force against extremists in Africa’s vast Sahel region, saying the “terrorists, thugs and assassins” need to be eradicated.

President Emmanuel Macron, meeting in Mali with leaders from the five regional countries involved, said France will provide military support for operations as well as 70 tactical vehicles and communications, operations and protective equipment.

The 5,000-strong force will be deployed by September, and its funding will be finalized by then, Macron said at a press conference. The leaders of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad — known as the G5 — must clarify their roles and contributions for the force to attract more support from outside countries, the French president added.

“We cannot hide behind words, and must take actions,” he said. The new anti-terror force will operate in the region along with a 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, which has become the deadliest in the world, and France’s own 5,000-strong Barkhane military operation, its largest overseas mission.

The new force is not meant to replace those missions, Macron said. “It’s a force that fights against terrorism, and the trafficking of drugs and humans.” Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said each of the Sahel countries would contribute 10 million euros ($11 million) toward the force’s overall budget of 423 million euros ($480 million).

The European Union already has pledged some 50 million euros ($57 million) in support of the new G5 force. In mid-June, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution welcoming the deployment of the new force. The U.N., however, will not contribute financially.

Sunday’s meetings came a day after the recently formed extremist group Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, based in Mali, released a proof-of-life video showing six foreign hostages seized in the region in recent years. The video claimed that “no genuine negotiations have begun to rescue your children.”

Macron said he welcomed the first sign of life for several months from the French hostage in the video, Sophie Petronin. “They are terrorists, thugs and assassins,” Macron said of the extremists. “And we will put all of our energies into eradicating them.”

The threat in the region has been growing for years. A French-led intervention drove out Islamic extremists from strongholds in northern Mali in 2013, but the extremists have continued targeting peacekeepers and other forces. Religious extremism has spread south, and attacks have become more brazen.

In March, the extremist groups Ansar Dine, Al-Mourabitoun and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb declared that they had merged into Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen.

Associated Press writers Philippe Sotto in Paris and Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

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