Category Archives: Africa – International

Nigeria – APC winners and loser Jonathan differ over handover date

Punch

APC rejects May 28 handover date

President-elect, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)

There are indications that the All Progressives Congress is uncomfortable with the May 28 handover date proposed by the out-going administration.

Investigation by Saturday PUNCH revealed that the outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan and the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) are set to clash over a proposal by the Jonathan team to hand over the mantle of leadership to Buhari on May the 28th, instead of the 29th.

Saturday PUNCH gathered that the Buhari team was already over what they considered as an act of ill-will laced with sinister motives.

This is sequel to an announcement by the Minister of Information, Senator Patricia Akwashiki, that President Jonathan would perform the handover ceremony at a dinner on May 28.

Akwashiki made the announcement after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting.

She told journalists, “By May 28, the President intends to have the formal handover done at a dinner so that we can reserve May 29 for the incoming government.”

However, since the return of democracy in 1999, the traditional date for the handover of power has been May 29, which is also observed as Democracy Day.

This tradition has been the vogue for the past 16 years. It also presents an opportunity for the outgoing President to formally present the instrument of authority to his successor in the full glare of members of the public, local and international media, as well as foreign dignitaries.

A top member of the All Progressives Congress, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media said, “It is simply not acceptable, we are rejecting it, it is a trap.”

He explained that from a security point of view, it could be considered a trap.

“How can anyone explain a situation where an outgoing president and his team will conveniently excuse themselves from an event where they are supposed to play a role when the President-elect and the Vice-President- elect are supposed to be present?” he queried.

According to the party chieftain, power abhors a vacuum as such, the constitution does not envisage a situation where Nigeria will be without a sitting President even for one hour.

He said, “If Jonathan hands over on the 28th, who accounts for the hours before the morning of the 29th when the Chief Justice of the Federation is to administer the oath of office and the oath of allegiance?

“What if there is even a sinister motive to this whole saga? As the President of the nation; who will still be the Chief Security officer until he hands over, there is no excuse that is strong enough to excuse him from the event.”

When contacted, a member of the Buhari campaign team, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, said while he was not privy to any meeting on the subject yet, it was only logical to ask Nigerians not to rest on their oars until total liberation was achieved.

He described the announcement by President Jonathan to hand over a day earlier than was due as a ploy to rubbish the gains made with the historic win by the opposition APC.

Fashakin said, “It (the proposed handover on the 28th) portends ill for the political destiny of this nation.

“That statement is loaded and it shows that the Nigerian people should not rest yet that there is still ominous signs which we should never take for granted. If Jonathan truly said he is handing over on the 28th it presupposes that he will be absent on the 29th.

“Number one, if he hands over on the 28th to the President-elect, does Gen. Muhammadu Buhari start to act effectively on that date? The answer is an emphatic NO.

“GMB does not start to act on that date, if you get what I mean. Handing over to GMB on that date is not only meaningless, it is stupid. It has no meaning in law, or reality. It means that for 24 hours before GMB takes over there will be a vacuum.”

He further argued that on the side of morality, Nigeria borrowed its constitution substantially from the American Constitution, and as such, it should learn a thing or two about how it operates.

He said there was never a time in recorded history where an outgoing American President, who is hale and hearty, will absent himself from the handover ceremony of his successor no matter their political differences.

Although, it is not yet clear how the Buhari team would handle “this threat,” it was learnt that the party’s legal team is being put on notice to be on the alert.

It was also gathered that the President-elect and his team have kept the issue of ministerial appointments in abeyance.

A member of the party’s National Working Committee, who pleaded for anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said, “The general is a meticulous person and we all know that the main task before us now is the transition committee. The issue of who will be minister has been kept in abeyance.”

When contacted to speak on the president-elect’s views on the handover date and appointments, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said, “You will get our reaction later after due consultation.”

Attempts to speak with the Minister of Information proved abortive. She was not in the office when our correspondent visited. However, the Personal Assistant to the Minister on Media, Mr. Joseph Mutah, promised to get in touch with her and revert to our correspondent.

He had yet to do that as of the time of going to the press and when his mobile number was called, he did not pick the call.

The Information Minister had also after the FEC meeting said the President had directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies to prepare their handover notes and submit them to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, on or before Monday.

According to her, it is Anyim’s responsibility to compile the notes, which will form Jonathan’s handover document to Buhari on May 28.

She had said, “You know May 29 is our Democracy Day. So, we have activities lined up all through that week, showcasing all what we have achieved and all other things we do normally on our Democracy Day except that this year is special with the inauguration of our new President that is coming up on May 29.”

The minister said the valedictory FEC meeting would hold on May 20, adding that everything that required the President’s approval must have been presented to him by May 13.

Meanwhile, two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Sebastian Hon and Joseph Nwobike, on Friday, disagreed on the appropriateness of President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to hand over on May 28 instead of May 29 when his four-year tenure will statutorily end.

The two lawyers spoke with one of our correspondents in separate telephone interviews.

Hon insisted that the best option was for the President to hand over on May 29 as past presidents had done.

But Nwobike said nothing was unconstitutional in the president’s decision as handing over is a process that would end with the inauguration of the incoming president on May 29.

Nwobike said, “Handing over is a process and not an event. So the paper work will be done on May 28 and the formalisation and the completion will occur on May 29. So there is clearly nothing unconstitutional about it.”

But Hon queried the basis for the President’s plan to hand over on May 28 as doing such on May 29 as it is usually done would not affect the nation’s democracy.

He said, “The best and the most appropriate thing to do is for President Jonathan to hand over at 12.01am of the morning of May 29, 2015.

“If he hands over before May 29, it means he is no longer the president. He should hand over by 12.01am of May 29 or do as the usual practice by 7am in the past. It will not be late if it is done by 7am on the morning of May 29.

“Remember that all former presidents took over on the morning of May 29. If he does that, nobody will query him and the transition will not be truncated.”

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IGAD endorses Sudan’s elections

Sudan Tribune

April 17, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) approved of the conduct of the Sudanese elections and declared that it conformed with international standards and was credible overall.

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A Sudanese electoral worker breaks the seal on a ballot box as they begin the process of counting votes for the presidential and legislative elections in Khartoum, Sudan, Friday, April 17, 2015 (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)

Mohammud Abdulahi Hussien, head of IGAD elections monitoring team, said that they successfully deployed their observers to eight states and urged candidates to accept the results or else challenge it through legal venues if needed.

At a press conference he also urged all parties to engage in the national dialogue process launched by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir last year.

Hussien urged officials to train election workers to raise awareness among youngsters whom he said mostly refrained from voting this time around.

The IGAD official acknowledged logistical issues that hindered elections in several states but nonetheless said that the National Elections Commission (NEC) performance improved relative to 2010.

He also underlined the high level of participation and inclusion of women in the voting process.

Yesterday the African Union (AU) team led by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo called for “enhancing” freedoms that would make for a more credible vote.

“I said there are a few things that could have [been] taken that could have made the quality of fairness and freedom to have been enhanced. But I will not say it is absolutely un-free or unfair,” Obasanjo said.

“Some measures could have been taken to enhance that,” he added.

The AU team affirmed that voter turnout was low and said it could be a result of boycott by opposition parties.

“It is not unlikely that the boycott has had some effect on the turnout of voters,” the AU team said in its preliminary assessment released today.

“The extension [of voting for an extra day] for the whole country was to allow more voters to cast their ballots”.

Obasanjo said on Thursday that the vote would likely not exceed 40%.

The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) issued a statement on Friday hailing the smooth conduct of the elections and its credibility despite attempts to derail it in several states by rebels.

It thanked observers who ignored western pressures and came to monitor the elections.

The vote counting has begun on Friday morning after polls were closed in most of the country on Thursday evening.

Partial results showed a handful of wins for independent and non-NCP candidates particularly in the northern states of Sudan.

But observers nonetheless expect a sweeping win for NCP candidates in all elections including presidency.

South Africa -KZN premier says Zwelithini will speak out against xenophobic attacks

Mail and Guardian

KZN premier Senzo Mchunu has announced that Zwelethini is concerned about the attacks and will meet with traditional leaders in a bid to stop them.

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini will hold a meeting with traditional leaders in a bid to stop xenophobic attacks.

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini will hold a meeting with traditional leaders in a bid to stop xenophobic attacks. 

KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu made the announcement in Durban on Friday where he again urged locals not to attack foreigners. Mchunu said Zwelethini would hold the meeting with the Amakhosi on Monday at one of the stadiums in the city. 

Durban has been wracked by a continuing spate of attacks on immigrants, which many have blamed on a speech Zwelithini made last month in which he reportedly expressed anti-immigrant sentiments. 

Mchunu said Zwelithini was considering a direct broadcast to urge calm. 

“We have met with his majesty twice. He is extremely unhappy. He rejects the attacks. He’s expressing concerns at some of the activities carried out by foreigners.” 

‘Misintepreted’ Mchunu said Zwelithini’s speech last month, where he reportedly said “foreigners must pack their bags and go home”, was misinterpreted. He said the king meant to call on government to address his concerns regarding foreigners. 

Mchunu said it was not a call for attacks to be carried out on foreigners. 

The premier’s announcement follows a march against xenophobia in Durban on Thursday, which was marred by police having running street battles with those who are against foreigners. But Mchunu insisted the march was a success and there were more people who had marched against xenophobia than those that had caused it. 

‘Calculated moves’ 

Asked what information the government had about those who were involved in the attacks against foreign businesses, he said the initial attacks had started randomly, but it now seemed “there was a calculated move to target foreign businesses”. 

He said there appeared to be three issues that were upsetting locals. These were that informal traders in the townships could not compete with the prices which foreign-owned businesses were selling their products, criminality that foreigners were involved in and a lack of respect shown by foreigners to locals. 

Mchunu announced the establishment of a seven-man panel to investigate locals’ complaints against foreigners and how they can be addressed. 

The panel would be headed by Judge Navi Pillay.

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South Africa xenophobic attacks on Africans

Daily Maverick

South Africa: The place of shame, violence and disconnect

Ranjeni-xenophobia-response.jpg

“South Africans are generally not xenophobic”, President Jacob Zuma said in Parliament on Thursday. What are we generally? Complacent? Angry? Fed up? Who knows what the true state of this nation is. However our default position whenever we are under pressure is to resort to violence. It is our thing. Like the French are known for romance and the British are known for being snooty. We are defined by violence – from the roads to our homes to the streets to Parliament and to our bedrooms. We came from violence and we always go back to it. And for as long as violence is our means of engagement, something extraordinary needs to happen to heal our nation. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.

On Thursday morning, the office of the National Police Commissioner issued a media statement announcing the activation nationally of joint operational centres to “coordinate response to unrest”. Speaking in Parliament later in the day, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, referred to “flashpoints” he and other government officials had visited. “Unrest” and “flashpoints” were part of the South African lexicon in the 80s and early 90s. It was the time when a low-intensity civil war was raging, and political violence and bloodshed were part of our daily lives.

And so we are back to what we were, a nation with unrest and flashpoints. A country where mobs sharpen their machetes and vow to kill in front of a wall of riot policemen poised to fire. That was the image of Apartheid South Africa. Now it is the image of post-democracy South Africa.

President Jacob Zuma is credited with being one of the leaders who negotiated the peace deal in KwaZulu-Natal that saw those words and images fade away. He knows what it takes to stop marauding, bloodthirsty mobs from wreaking havoc. And he knows that a heavy police presence is only a temporary solution when people are on a campaign of violence.

Brokering a cessation of violence is one of the things Zuma can do. He knows it takes a multi-pronged approach that involves going to the ground, listening to grievances, disarming those perpetrating violence and mapping a way forward that everyone involved commits to. Zuma wrote the manual on how that is done, and for that reason was dispatched to other parts of Africa to assist in peace processes.

And yet the outbreak and spread of xenophobic violence in different parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng is being dealt with as if it is a service delivery protest or labour dispute that a heavy police deployment can deal with.

It cannot. This is violence with the intention to kill and destroy lives.

The attacks against foreign nationals have been described as “corrective violence”. Like with “corrective rape”, it is a forceful means to take matters into your own hands and attempt to change what you do not approve of. In the swirl of commentary and analysis to try to understand the xenophobic attacks, it is suggested that “corrective violence” is the means frustrated South Africans are using to rid their areas of crime and drug abuse and chasing away foreigners who take away their jobs and economic opportunities.

After years of unemployment, poverty and crime reaching endemic proportions, with no relief coming from those in authority, people are taking matters into their own hands, driven by anger and desperation. It is this what has caused people to lose their humanity and resort to violence their means of engagement.

How then would heavier policing defuse such a situation? Who should be listening to, understanding the desperation, and providing the long-term solution?

A special debate in Parliament was a good gesture to demonstrate that everyone from the president to leaders of all political parties were concerned by the xenophobic attacks and were willing to address the matter publicly. While there were many, many words of condemnation against the attacks, and a hefty dose of finger pointing as to why they were happening, the parliamentary debate will have no effect in stopping the violence.

It is the symptom of the very disconnect that has brought us to the point where ordinary people believe that nobody is listening and nobody cares. While the debate on the attacks on foreign nationals was in progress in Parliament, a mob of people was trying to attack the peace march in Durban against xenophobia. These were South Africans wanting to attack other South Africans demonstrating their opposition to violence against other Africans.

Had the police not held off the mob, including through firing water canons at them, what would have happened had they reached the City Hall where the march of about 3,000 people ended? Would there have been another parliamentary debate to condemn the chaos and possible loss of life that would have occurred? How would the reign of terror stop?

During the debate, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said the state had taught South Africans that violence was the only way to deal with issues. He cited police killing people at Marikana and in service delivery protests, and his party being forcibly removed from the National Assembly during the State of the Nation Address as examples of this.

Perhaps that may be true, but violence is deeply embedded into the fabric of our society. Violence was used to fight the unjust system of Apartheid and by the former regime to suppress the struggle. The democratic state is mimicking the Apartheid state, again to suppress opposition. And people now use violence against others in the belief they are also fighting a just cause.

Violence is also used as a means to take what does not belong to us, to demonstrate that we have the right of way, the right to violate other people’s bodies and to demand attention.

When we can’t spill blood, we spill shit. When we are done burning tyres, we burn people.

It is all part of the dialect of this tormented nation.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said greed, corruption and disrespect for the rule of law was rampant in our society, and while poverty was endemic, leaders were interested in lining their pockets. Freedom Front Plus MP Corne Mulder said there was an “evil spirit” running around the country and there were no positive values. African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe said South Africans need anger management and to pray. Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said “our humanity is slipping away from us”.

Zuma spoke of new measures to better regulate migration and the deployment of the security cluster and economic departments to deal with the problems.

But who is going to go to the streets and townships to tell those brandishing weapons, assaulting people and looting shops to stop what they are doing? Who will stop the fear and loathing in communities? Who is going to realise the great disconnect between those in leadership and the people on the ground who would not have the benefit of listening to the parliamentary debate?

It came to this precisely because of the disconnect. Leaders across society become separated from the people they serve and therefore get shocked when they go on a rampage. South Africa is the shame of the continent and a deviant of the world, and will continue being so until it changes its culture and values.

Xenophobia, unrest and flashpoints will not go away unless there is a serious national effort to address the multiple collision of problems – the failure of leadership, the economic decline, crime, corruption, abuse and the lack of humanity, decency and values.

South Africa needs to be defined by something new, something better, something that will give us a reason to believe once more. We need hope in time of hopelessness. We need leadership in leaderless years. We need to feel our humanity, we need to feel our goodness. This angry violent nation needs to emerge from the shame of being amongst the wretched of the earth. It might be difficult to see it right now, but we, South Africans, deserve better. DM

Photo: Local South African men dance and sing as they call for foreign shop owners to leave the area after xenophobic violence in the area in Actonville, Johannesburg, South Africa, 16 April 2015. Police searched the mens hostels for weapons used by local South African men against foreign African’s after five people have been killed during recent xenophobia attacks that started in Durban. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK


South Africa –  fear grips foreign residents

Al Jazeera

Twelve people have been arrested, with anti-foreigner attacks in South Africa spreading to parts of Johannesburg’s commercial hub, according to South African police.

Police fired rubber bullets into a crowd of South Africans in the city’s Jeppestown area on Friday.

A crowd of South Africans carrying hammers and axes gathered near the city centre, chanting “Foreigners must leave.”

The arrests, made overnight, came as groups of South Africans who had gathered in Jeppestown and Cleveland blocked roads with rocks and burning tyres and then ordered foreigners to leave the country, police said.

South African mercenaries’ last battle – fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria

Mail and Guardian

The vexed leftovers of the apartheid military are reportedly turning the tide in Nigeria.

Winning the war: The Nigerian army has successfully held back Boko Haram to the extent that the country was able to hold relatively peaceful presidential elections last month. (Reuters)

Leon Lotz was once a member of Koevoet – “crowbar” in Afrikaans – a paramilitary police unit created by South Africa’s apartheid regime to root out guerrillas in what is now Namibia. Thirty years later, something persuaded him to take up arms again in a foreign country. He was killed in March, apparently by friendly fire from a tank in northern Nigeria. Among the most striking facts about Lotz was his age: 59.

A wealth of media reports, witness accounts and photos on social media suggest that he was not the only white mercenary who helped turn the tide against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in recent weeks, ­allowing Nigeria to hold a relatively peaceful election last month. Whether as technical advisers or frontline combatants, some are said to have come from the former Soviet Union but about 300 are reportedly from South Africa and nearing retirement age.

Who are the members of this dad’s army, willing to risk death abroad and prosecution at home to fight someone else’s war? What is their motivation? And are they welcomed by those they are ostensibly helping?

South Africa has a chequered history of exporting soldiers of fortune. Most belong to a generation of soldiers who felt cast aside when the Berlin Wall fell, Nelson Mandela was released and South Africa’s military needs were drastically reduced. Robbed of the only role they were trained for and unable to find alternative work, they felt alienated under a black government and pursued private wars elsewhere to put bread on the table.

“Very often it’s a money issue – they haven’t done well and they need to make some,” said Jakkie Cilliers, executive director of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria. “It’s not ideological and it’s not the gung ho image one has from the film Blood Diamond. This is the only skill these guys have. Most of them are in their late 50s or early 60s and trying to make a late bit of income before they’re past it. In five years’ time it won’t be an issue.”

Cilliers recently took part in an Afrikaans radio programme during which three or four mercenaries phoned in. “They said things like: ‘I’m trying to help my kids. My lifestyle is quite crappy. I’m trying to put the grandkids through school.’”

Professional, skilled and battle-hardened
Over the past two decades such private military contractors (to use the respectable term) have gone into battle in Angola, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan and been linked to a failed plot to smuggle the late Muammar Gaddafi out of Libya.

According to those who have hired or worked alongside them, they are highly professional, skilled and battle-hardened by the South African border wars, in which they often fought alongside black comrades. The popular image of mercenaries as hard-drinking, womanising buccaneers is half a century out of date although, having grown up under white minority rule, they carry some of its baggage. One source, who did not wish to be named, said: “Are the guys in Nigeria likely to be racist? Yes, they come from the apartheid era and no one has pressed the delete key. But they are very professional guys who get the job done.”

Several hundred South African mercenaries are still active, according to one estimate, despite the threat of criminal prosecution back home. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the defence minister, has said any deployment to Nigeria would be illegal under laws passed in 1998 and toughened in 2006.

“They are mercenaries, whether they are training, skilling the Nigerian defence force, or scouting for them,” she was quoted as saying. “The point is they have no business to be there.”

One man who knew many of them is Simon Mann, an old Etonian former Special Air Service officer who achieved infamy in 2004 with a bungled coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea. “I think they are very effective,” the 62-year-old said. “They certainly know what they’re doing. They’re getting on a bit now but there’s no reason why they can’t have a group of guys beneath them leaping around.”

Infamous: Simon Mann, centre, led a group of mercenaries in a failed coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea in 2004. (AFP)

Mann, the son of a South African mother and British father, co-founded a private military firm that fought on the government sides against rebels in Angola and Sierra Leone in the 1990s. At its peak, Executive Outcomes employed about 1 500 South African mercenaries, some of whom are alleged to be in Nigeria today.

Mann recalled: “We had a large number of South African Defence Force [SADF] people being told that, because the African National Congress was coming to power, it was being dismantled. Some were literally being told: ‘Your pension is being torn up.’ They were pissed off and looking for work. We had something like three interested for every place we had: we were inundated.”

Mann estimates that although four-fifths were black, the officers were white, reprising the hierarchy of the pre-1994 army. “The white solders were very good and thoroughly liked and respected by the black troops, but nonetheless they were white Afrikaner South Africans with everything that entails. I wouldn’t imagine it’s changed much. A leopard doesn’t change its spots.”

More than 70 South Africans were involved in the Equatorial Guinea fiasco, among them the pilot Crause Steyl, who had been working for Mann for a decade and earning $10 000 to $15 000 a month. Recalling the mercenaries he flew into war zones, the 50-year-old said: “They never spoke about exactly what they do. They kept to themselves and never walked around bragging about it. They were reserved, low-profile people. I don’t think they were getting paid more than the average British soldier. My understanding is about $400 a day.”

Steyl added: “The South African mercenaries are giving Boko Haram a hiding. These guys are in their 50s, but for a pilot or tank driver it doesn’t really matter. There’s going to be no Boko Haram. It boggles the mind that Britain and America promised to help Nigeria but never did.

Grievance and resentment
“But the South African government doesn’t want [the mercenaries] to exist. They wish them off the planet. When they come back from Nigeria, it will try to prosecute them and put them in jail. Because the colour of these men is white, it makes laws that stop them earning money offshore. How wrong can you be? There is now reverse racism and it’s difficult for white people to get a job.”

A recurring theme is a sense of grievance and resentment among former soldiers who perceive today’s South Africa as loaded against them, even though statistics consistently show that the white minority still enjoys disproportionate access to education, jobs and wealth.

Tom Wolmarans, an apartheid-era policeman, said: “There’s no work for white people in South Africa. Are they going up for money? Yes, it has a role to play because they must make a living. That’s all they can do; they are trained to do it. Some of them were laid off to early retirement. People with a hell of a lot of experience. Good soldiers.”

Wolmarans, now a ballistics expert who testified at the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius last year, said he knew two men who had gone to Nigeria to provide military training. “They are good guys, brilliant soldiers, and they do good work up there. If you look at what’s happening with Boko Haram, it’s because of the influence of good soldiers who are training people to do their job. They get results.”

South Africans retain some unique selling points for African governments, according to Helmoed Heitman, local correspondent of Jane’s Defence Weekly. They were more used to being in a scrap than American or European forces, who often came with “gold-plated” equipment, and white South Africans were often more at ease fighting alongside black comrades than European troops would be. “Most of the guys I know were not particularly racist or fighting for white minority rule,” he said. “They have no problem working with black guys and don’t have a racial hang-up. Most people in Africa have long since realised this. What they look for is someone with real shooting experience. The old SADF soldiers are not always liked, necessarily, but they are highly regarded.”

And the image of drunk, depressive adventurers is old hat, Heitman argued. “That may have been true of mercenaries in the 1960s. The ones I know are serious soldiers and family men. There are some among them who were having booze and parties in the past but now they’re in their 50s and 60s and are serious guys.” – © Guardian News & Media 2015

African Union confirms low turn-out in Sudan election

Sudan Tribune

 (KHARTOUM) – The head of the African Union observation mission for the Sudanese general election has confessed the weak participation of the Sudanese voters and estimate that nearly one-third of voters casted their bailout.

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Election officials at a polling station on the first day of Sudan’s presidential and legislative elections in Khartoum on 13 April 2015 (Photo: AP/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

Speaking in a press conference after the end of the four-day elections, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo told reporters that the percentage of eligible voters varies between 30 and 35 adding “the turnout was low, almost is less than 40%.”

Obasanjo attributed this small turnout to the boycott by opposition and civil society groups, but added that the elections should not affect the national dialogue between the Sudanese political forces to end war and achieve democratic reforms.

The National Election Commission (NEC) announced that the vote count operation will begin on Friday and the result will be officially announced on 27 April.

The opposition parties and civil society groups called to boycott the electoral process as the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) rejected their demand to postpone the elections and prioritise the African Union supported efforts to bring peace and engage a comprehensive national process for a new constitution.

Obasanjo noted that the vote faced difficulties in troubled Blue Nile and South Kordofan states where the government troops fight the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N).

He also mentioned the logistical problems that triggered the extension of vote process in Al Jazirah state and some parts of Darfur region.

In a report disclosed recently, an African Union technical team tasked with evaluating the pre-elections environment in Sudan said the political environment in the country is restrictive due to the lack of political freedoms and continuation of war in different parts of the country.

In a report submitted to the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) last month, the assessment mission advised not to send a monitoring mission due to its inconsistency with the standards of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

However, the AUPSC went against its recommendations, underscoring its involvement in the ongoing efforts to end Sudan’s conflict and operate a smooth democratic transition.

Sudan Tribune reporters spotted several polling stations were empty from voters in different electoral constituencies in the Sudanese capital on Thursday while the ruling party urged its membership to work actively to bring voters to the vote centres.

Several heads of polling stations complained of weak voter turnout on the fourth day, also they pointed to the existence of errors related to the fall of voters names and the repetition of the names of electors in a number of electoral constituencies.

SATISFIED WITH THE ELECTION TURNOUT

However presidential assistant and NCP vice president Ibrahim Ghandour told reporters they are satisfied with the election turnout, adding they are not part in the NEC’s decision to extend the vote period.

“I can assure you that we are quite satisfied with the turnout of (election),” Ghandour said in a press briefing for foreign reporters at the premises of the ruling party on Thursday evening.

“Those who are talking about the low turnout they just do not know what is going on or they are deliberately talk about,” he said in English.

He further explained that his government was not involved in the decision of the electoral body to extend the vote for an additional day after the small participation during the three-day vote period.

CHINA: TRANSPARENT ELECTION

The head of the Chinese delegation to monitor the Sudanese election , Zhang Xun, said electoral process was characterised by transparency, stability and safety, and was held in line with international electoral standards .

In a press conference held at the Chinese embassy in Khartoum on Thursday, Xun stressed that the Sudanese elections are an internal matter for the people of Sudan alone, adding “We firmly reject (foreign) interference in the affairs of others.”

(ST)