Power Struggle in Burkina Faso

BBC

Burkina Faso: Military divided over who rules

Burkinese Lieutenant-Colonel Issaac Zida of the presidential guard (centre)Colonel Isaac Zida has become the second military man to claim to be head of state following President Compaore’s resignation

A split has emerged within Burkina Faso’s armed forces over who is leading the country following the resignation of President Blaise Compaore after 27 years in power.

The presidential guard’s second in command, Colonel Isaac Zida, says he has assumed power as head of state.

Earlier, army chief General Honore Traore said he had taken over.

Crowds danced and cheered in the capital Ouagadougou after Mr Compaore’s resignation was announced on Friday.

It came a day after protesters angry at his attempt to amend the constitution and extend his 27-year hold on the presidency set fire to parliament and government buildings.

Army chief Gen Honore Traore (centre) holds media conferenceArmy chief Gen Honore Traore (centre) said he had taken over as head of state on Friday
People celebrate in Ouagadougou, 31 OctPeople celebrated after the news of the resignation was announced in Ouagadougou
Map

Speaking on Saturday, Col Zida said Gen Traore’s claim to be head of state was now “obsolete”.

“I now assume… the responsibilities of head of the transition and of head of state to assure the continuation of the state” and a “smooth democratic transition”, said Col Zida in a televised address quoted by AFP news agency.

And Reuters quoted Col Zida, in a statement read out on local radio, as saying: “I assume the functions of head of state and I call on (West African regional bloc) Ecowas and the international community to demonstrate their understanding and support the new authorities.”

Friday saw Mr Compaore issue a statement saying the presidency was now vacant, and urging elections within 90 days.

His whereabouts are now unclear.

Under Article 43 of the constitution, the president of the senate should take over after the president resigns, and elections should take place between 60 and 90 days afterwards.

However, the military announced a state of emergency and the dissolution of both houses of parliament on Thursday – effectively leaving a power vacuum.

line

BBC News looks back at Blaise Compaore’s three decades of power

Blaise Compaore was a young army officer when he seized power in 1987. A taciturn man, he became known as Beau Blaise – good-looking Blaise. The nickname did not necessarily suggest he was popular. Many blamed him for the death of his predecessor, the charismatic revolutionary Thomas Sankara, who was killed by soldiers in mysterious circumstances.

Controversy would be a perpetual feature of Beau Blaise’s time in power. The president was accused of stoking rebellions around West Africa. Yet over time Mr Compaore oversaw a transformation of his image, internationally at least. This inflammatory figure became a man relied upon to put out fires around the region.

Mr Compaore won a series of elections, though the opposition always complained the odds were stacked dramatically in his favour. He largely followed the economic orthodoxy prescribed by international financial institutions. But Burkina Faso did not escape the poverty trap. It remains one of the least developed countries in the world.

Nigeria – bus station bomb in Gombe

BBC

31 October 2014
Nigeria bus station blast during rush hour

An explosion at a major bus station in Gombe state in north-eastern Nigeria has killed at least four people and injured 32, police say.

Gombe city hospital sources say the casualty figure is higher and a bus park official says 13 vehicles were destroyed in the rush-hour blast.

Police say explosives were concealed in a bus and three men have been arrested.

Gombe shares a border with three states placed under emergency rule to fight the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency.

The group has taken full control of Mubi, a commercial centre in Adamawa.

It is the largest town Boko Haram has taken since it stepped up its insurgency when the state of emergency was declared in May 2013 in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

The government announced a ceasefire with Boko Haram nearly two weeks ago as part of efforts to negotiate the release of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the group in April.

But there have been several abductions and attacks since then.

Sharia punishment
There are conflicting figures about the number of casualties in the Gombe bus bomb.

Witnesses at the scene and at Gombe hospital described seeing at least seven bodies.

It is not clear if Boko Haram is behind the attack but the militants have targeted commuters in the past.

Over the border in Adamawa, thousands of people have been fleeing Mubi since it came under attack on Wednesday.

Bus stations like the one in Gombe have been targeted by Boko Haram in the past
The BBC Hausa Service spoke to one resident trapped in the town who said the fighters had set up checkpoints and that their intention was to impose Islamic law.

According to the resident, the militants said that several people who had been caught stealing motorbikes during the chaos of their takeover would have their hands cut off on Friday in front of the main mosque.

Boko Haram promotes a version of Islam which makes it haram, or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society.

It frequently attacks schools and colleges, which it sees as a symbol of Western culture.

At least 2,000 civilians have been killed by Boko Haram this year.

The group has taken more than 500 women and girls hostage since it began its insurgency in 2009, according to Human Rights Watch.

IMG_1028.JPG

IMG_1026.JPG

IMG_1027.PNG

Mozambique election commission confirms election results but on split vote

Mozambique Political process Bulletin/allAfrica

Mozambique: Divided CNE Declares Frelimo Victory

Photo: Angop

Filipe Nyusi.

The National Elections Commission (CNE) approved the results of the 15 October election giving victory to Filipe Nyusi as president with 57% of the vote and Frelimo with 144 of 250 seats in parliament.

The results are close to those predicted by the parallel sample count.

But in a meeting which ran from 11.30 am yesterday to 4 am this morning, the CNE split and only approved the results by a vote 10-7, with opposition nominees and some civil society voting against. Renamo today filed a formal protest.

The CNE was required by law to report today, but it admits that it is continuing its investigations into a wide range of complaints including late opening of polling stations, conflicting numbers in different copies of some results sheets (editas), suspected ballot box stuffing, reports of pre-marked ballots in circulation, and opposition ballots improperly made invalid by polling station staff (MMVs) They also say that some editais were missing, but do not identify how many.

Renamo in a statement Tuesday in Beira said it won the election and had won more than 139 seats in parliament. MDM in a statement this afternoon rejected the results. Both said they rejected the election because misconduct was too widespread.

In a meeting with civil society, Renamo candidates Afonso Dhlakama said he had a large file of evidence of misconduct which he would submit to the Constitutional Council but refused to show it civil society or the media. In his meeting with civil society, Dhlakama called on his members to oppose the result, but not to resort to violence.

And Dhlakama continues to call for a neutral government of technocrats or a government of national unity for at least two years.

Turnout in the election was 48.64%. Results for president are:

Filipe Nyusi 2,761,025 – 57.03% Afonso Dhlakama 1,762,260 – 36.61% Daviz Simango 306,884 – 6.36%

Parliament seats

Frelimo 144 Renamo 89 MDM 17

Total seats in the 10 provincial parliaments:

Frelimo 485 Renamo 295 MDM 31

A total of 754,113 ballot papers considered invalid at polling stations were sent to Maputo and reconsidered by the CNE, and 174,614 were accepted as valid. This means 23% were accepted, which is higher than in previous elections. In addition, of 466 protested votes, 323 were accepted as valid.

By comparison, the 2009 results were:

Turnout 44.63%

President: Armando Guebuza 75.01% Afonso Dhlakama 16.41% Daviz Simango 8.59%

Parliament Frelimo 191 Renamo 51 MDM 8

All Renamo and MDM complaints rejected by district courts

Only 24 complaints were made by political parties to district counts about the elections. Only one, by Frelimo relating to Tsanago, Tete, was accepted. All others were rejected for lack of evidence or for being more than 48 hours after the relevant result was announced, explained Supreme Court judge Pedro Nuatitima at a press conference Thursday morning. “The courts can only work with proof and not with allegations,” he explained. Most of the rejected complaints came from Renamo and MDM.

Relating to Tsangano, Tete, where Renamo militants destroyed some polling stations and stopped and prevented voting, the district court ordered the National Elections Commission (CNE) to hold elections in those polling stations later. But the CNE says it only needs to do so if the missing polling stations could make a difference to the result.

Under law changes agreed earlier this year in negotiations with Renamo, any complaints about electoral misconduct are made first to the district court. And complaints were made demanding recounts, challenging numbers, claiming there were false results sheets (editais), and that polling stations had not opened. But according to Nuatitima, Renamo was not able to meet the rules it put into the law. It often failed to provide any evidence of its claims, and many were submitted after the 48 hour deadline. At least four of the rejections have been appealed to the Constitutional Council.

Judge Nuatitima also told the press conference that so far the supreme count knows of 374 people being judged for electoral crimes by district tribunals during the campaign and voting. Of those, 129 have been acquitted, 133 convicted and sentenced to punishments ranging from fines to one year in jail, and 112 processes are still under way.

The largest number of people charged were in Nampula (98), Tete (82), Mancia (58) and Zambezia (53). About 70% of those charged were accused of damaging campaign material of other parties. On polling day 15 people were charged with disrupting polling stations and 6 people were charged with multiple voting.

Nuatitima noted that violence in several cities after voting ended, even if it was during the counting process, has been treated as common crimes, and not as electoral crimes.

Burkina Faso – army takes over from Compaore

BBC

Burkina Faso general takes over as Compaore resigns

People celebrate in Ouagadougou, 31 OctPeople celebrate after the news of the resignation was announced in Ouagadougou

Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore has announced his resignation, following violent protests at his attempt to extend his 27-year rule.

Mr Compaore issued a statement saying the presidency was now vacant and urging elections within 90 days.

Military chief Gen Honore Traore said he had taken over as head of state “in line with constitutional measures”.

Crowds danced and cheered in the capital, Ouagadougou, after Mr Compaore’s resignation was broadcast.

On Thursday, protesters angry at his attempt to amend the constitution had set fire to parliament and government buildings.

‘Social peace’

Mr Compaore had earlier vowed to remain in power until a transitional government completed its work in 2015, although he had agreed not to seek another term.

Protesters in the Place de la Nation in OuagadougouThousands gathered in the Place de la Nation in the capital
Honore Traore, centre, 31 OctHonore Traore, centre, announces that he has taken over
Protest in Ouagadougou, 30 OctThursday’s violent protests vented anger at Blaise Compaore’s rule
Map

However, the opposition continued to demand that he resign – a key leader, Zephirin Diabre, urged protesters to occupy public spaces.

After the resignation, Mr Diabre told the BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme: “We are all relieved by what is happening – and this is our demand for so long so we are very happy – and we need to work on the transition to take care of our country.”

But the BBC’s Yacouba Ouedraogo, in Ouagadougou, says that many demonstrators see Gen Traore as too close to the ousted president – he was Blaise Compaore’s aide de camp – and not enough of a rupture with the past.

Mr Compaore’s statement, read on television, said: “In order to preserve the democratic gains, as well as social peace, I declare a power vacuum to allow the establishment of a transition leading to free and fair elections within a maximum of 90 days.”

He added: “For my part, I think I have fulfilled my duty.”

President Compaore had earlier urged talks with all parties

His whereabouts now remain unclear.

However, Reuters news agency reported that a heavily armed convoy believed to be carrying Mr Compaore was travelling towards the southern town of Po.

One protester, Sam, told the BBC: “Blaise Compaore has gone away, he’s running away and we are happy. The words are not coming so easy because I’m very happy, my children are going to know another president.”

France welcomed the resignation, saying it “allows a solution to be found to the crisis”.

In a statement, Gen Traore said: “In line with constitutional measures, and given the power vacuum… I will assume as of today my responsibilities as head of state.”

He added: “I undertake a solemn engagement to proceed without delay with consultations with all parties in the country so as to start the process of returning to the constitutional order as soon as possible.”

An army spokesman, Lt Col Isaac Zida, later told reporters the constitution had been suspended, but it was unclear whether he was speaking on behalf of Gen Traore.

line

BBC’s James Copnall on Blaise Compaore’s career

BBC News looks back at Blaise Compaore’s three decades of power

Blaise Compaore was a young army officer when he seized power in 1987, a taciturn man who became known as Beau Blaise – good looking Blaise. The nickname did not necessarily suggest he was popular. Many blamed him for the death of his predecessor, the charismatic revolutionary Thomas Sankara, who was killed by soldiers in mysterious circumstances.

Controversy would be a perpetual feature of Beau Blaise’s time in power. The president was accused of stoking rebellions around West Africa. Yet over time Mr Compaore oversaw a transformation of his image, internationally at least. This inflammatory figure became a man relied upon to put out fires around the region.

Mr Compaore won a series of elections, though the opposition always complained the odds were stacked dramatically in his favour. He largely followed the economic orthodoxy prescribed by international financial institutions. But Burkina Faso did not escape the poverty trap. It remains one of the least developed countries in the world.

DR Congo – Congolese mob kills and burns suspected Ugandan Islamist rebel

Reuters

Congo crowd kills man, eats him after militant massacres – witnesses

BENI Democratic Republic of Congo Fri Oct 31, 2014  (Reuters) – A crowd stoned to death a young man in northeast Congo on Friday before burning and eating his corpse, witnesses said, in apparent revenge for a series of attacks by Ugandan rebels.

The incident in the town of Beni followed a number of overnight raids in the area blamed on the Islamist group ADF-NAUL, who are thought to have massacred more than 100 people this month, using hatchets and machetes to kill their victims.

Witnesses said the man, who has not been identified, aroused suspicion on a bus when passengers discovered he could not speak the local Swahili language and that he was carrying a machete.

Speaking from the town of Beni, Congo’s President Joseph Kabila said the ADF-NALU militants would face the same fate as the rebel movement M23, which was defeated by a U.N.-backed government offensive last year.

“There is no question of negotiation with the terrorists,” Kabila said in a speech at a local hotel. “They will be defeated as was the case with the M23. And it will be very soon.”

ADF-NALU is an alliance of groups opposed to the Ugandan government that has operated from bases in neighbouring Congo since the mid-2000s, undermining Kinshasa’s grip on the area.

The movement was blamed for the deaths of 14 people, killed early on Thursday in the village of Kampi ya Chui, bringing the total death toll this month to at least 107, said Teddy Kataliko, president of the Civil Society of Beni.

Tensions ran high in the town on Friday morning with around 100 demonstrators blocking the road from the airport into town, throwing stones and waving machetes to demand greater government protection against the rebels.

Local government officials could not immediately be reached for comment. Earlier in the week, the government sought to downplay the threat posed by the group, which it had previously said was defeated in an operation earlier this year.

Estimates of its strength vary greatly, but the website of the U.N.’s peacekeeping mission in Congo estimates it has around 500 fighters.

The Ugandan government has said ADF-NALU is allied with Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab movement, but analysts say the nature of these ties is not clear, despite the ADF-NALU’s clear Islamist ideology.

In his speech on Friday, Kabila appealed for public support for a ramping up of its offensive against the group, but did not specify what that would entail.

“I call on the population to support the army because the victory against the M23 was because the population was behind the army,” he said. “I call on young people to join the army in great numbers.”

Kabila also defended the U.N. peacekeeping mission known as MONUSCO following criticism from locals that it had failed to defend them and had even collaborated with ADF-NALU.

Crowds of mainly young men attacked several peacekeeping facilities with stones and bows and arrows last week, forcing the evacuation of some staff.

The U.N. mission says it has stepped up patrols in the area in the wake of the massacres.

 

France calls for calm in Burkina Faso as army says Comapore no longer in power

RFI

France calls for calm in Burkina Faso as army says Compaoré no longer in power

An MP flees the parliament in Ouagadougou as demonstrators occupy it on Thursday

An MP flees the parliament in Ouagadougou as demonstrators occupy it on Thursday

Issouf Sanogo/AFP
By RFI

French Foreign Affairs Secretary Laurent Fabius on Friday called for calm in Burkina Faso as protesters took to the streets after President Blaise Compaoré refused to leave power and the army announced it had taken control. Compaoré announced his resignation on Friday afternoon.

Updates: An army representative told demonstrators in Ouagadougou on Friday that Compaoré “is no longer in power”.  Compaoré later announced he was quitting and promised “free and transparent” elections in 90 days.

“It’s not up to us to make or unmake governments,” Fabius told reporters on Friday morning. “What we, the French, want is for our nationals to be protected and that there be appeasement.”

The French ambassador in Ouagadougou, Gilles Thibault, has been instructed to facilitate a peace process and envoys from the UN, the African Union and the west African states organisation, Ecowas, would arrive on Friday.

The roughly 3,500 French citizens in the country were in no danger, Fabius said.

Ouagadougou’s central square was packed with demonstrators on Friday morning, despite the violence of the previous day and the army’s declaration that it had taken over the running of the country to “accompany the democratic transition” that the opposition has called for.

They are talking of an “unfinished revolution”, in the words of one, Moussa, interviewed by RFI’s French-language service.

“We have to take back our revolution, which is being stolen,” opposition activist Gabriel Kombo told RFI earlier.

Opposition MP Blassé Ouédraogo described the situation as “total confusion”.

A demonstration was also reported in the country’s second-biggest city, Bobo Dioulasso.

Many of the demonstrators have called for former chief of staff and defence minister Kouamé Lougué, whom Compaoré fired in 2003, to take over.

Video: Clashes in Ouagadougou Thursday

Earlier this month French President François Hollande promised that France would back Compaoré’s candidature for a post in an international body if he dropped his plans to hold on to power, the magazine Jeune Afrique revealed on Thursday.

Known in colonial times as Upper Volta, the landlocked country became independent from France in 1960 and its name was changed to Burkina Faso (“the land of upright men”) in 1984.  RFI

Nigeria – thousands flee as Boko Haram takes Mubi town

Reuters

Thousands flee as Boko Haram seizes northeast Nigerian town

MAIDUGURI/YOLA Nigeria (Reuters) – Islamist Boko Haram militants have seized control of the northeast Nigerian town of Mubi, killing dozens of people and forcing thousands to flee, witnesses said.

The insurgents stormed Mubi on Wednesday. Gunfire has been heard in the town ever since, witnesses told Reuters.

A security source on Thursday confirmed the town had fallen to the insurgents. Witnesses said they hoisted their black flag over the palace of the traditional ruler.

Witnesses said the insurgents robbed banks, burned down the main market and sacked the palace. One saw them kill a university lecturer and his entire family — Boko Haram, whose name means Western education is sinful, abhors secular learning.

Violence in Nigeria’s northeast has been on the rise since the government announced a ceasefire with the rebels nearly two weeks ago to pursue talks in neighbouring Chad aimed at freeing more than 200 girls kidnapped in April.

The government has blamed criminal networks for the violence, which has undermined public confidence in both the ceasefire and the talks. It has had no immediate comment on the situation in Mubi.

Boko Haram’s five-year-old campaign for an Islamic state, which has killed thousands, is seen as the main security threat to Africa’s biggest economy and leading oil producer.

Student Stephen Adaji said he had been hiding in the bush since mid-morning on Wednesday when the fighting began until a farmer helped him cross to a nearby village and he fled to the nearest city of Yola.

“We couldn’t sleep in the bush because of the fear Boko Haram may get us,” he said. “We were so scared, shooting was going on throughout the night and they often shouted Allah Akbar (God is greatest).”

A spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the northeast, Abdul Ibrahim, said the agency had sent extra personnel to help manage people fleeing to Yola, a relatively safe city that is home to the well-guarded American University of Nigeria.

He said an attack just prior on the nearby town of Uba had forced 4,000 people who were in a displaced persons camp to vacate the camp and head for Yola. Several hundred also fled across the border into Cameroon.

“I saw many dead bodies in the bush and many injured people were lying helpless especially children and women,” said James Audu, also a student. “They killed a lecturer and his entire family. I saw them get shot.”

Another survivor, a mobile phone trader called Abubakar Adamu, said the Emir Isa Ahmadu was away on pilgrimage to Mecca when his palace was looted. Boko Haram scorns traditional Islamic authorities in Nigeria as corrupt and self-serving.