Category Archives: Africa – International

Burkina Faso – Comapaore refuses to step down

BBC

Burkina Faso president defies calls to step down

Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore says he will stay in power for a year under a transitional government, following a day of violent protests demanding his resignation.

He said he was withdrawing a controversial law which would enable him to seek another term in office when his current term ends in 2015.

On Thursday, protesters angered by his bid to extend his 27-year rule torched parliament and government buildings.

They want him to resign immediately.

The creation of a transitional government was announced on Thursday by army chief General Honore Traore, who said it would “be put in place in consultation with all parties”.

He also declared the dissolution of parliament.

“A return to the constitutional order is expected in no more than 12 months,” he added, but gave no further details.

In a TV address later on Thursday, Mr Compaore refused to step down but said he would hand over power once the transitional government had completed its 12-month term.

He also said he was lifting a “state of siege” he had declared earlier.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, will fly to Burkina Faso on Friday to try to ease the crisis, the UN said.

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Analysis: Thomas Fessy, BBC West Africa correspondent

The president said he was ready to open a political dialogue to set the terms of a transitional government that he would lead until the next presidential election. His current term ends in November next year, so staying in power now would be legal.

But would he be legitimate?

Opposition leaders and protesters say no. They want him to step down now.

President Compaore appeared to want to calm things down but he spoke like a man who still wants to decide when he goes.

That could be the recipe for more unrest.

 

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Burkina Faso's parliament on fire (30 October 2014)Parliament was ransacked and set ablaze
A man stands in front of a burning car, near the Burkina Faso's Parliament where demonstrators set fire to parked cars - 30 October 2014, Ouagadougou, Burkina FasoCars were also set on fire
Burkina Faso troops try to disperse protesters in Ouagadougou on 30 October 2014 The defence forces have been trying to disperse the protesters

‘Patriotic action’

In a message broadcast by a local TV station after the general’s statement, Mr Compaore said he welcomed the military’s “patriotic action”.

He said he would hand over power to a democratically elected government after the transitional administration had completed its term.

Statement by army chief General Honore Traore: ”The national assembly is dissolved, the government is dissolved”

He had planned to seek re-election by pushing a constitutional amendment through parliament that would have lifted the limit on presidential terms.

But the move triggered demonstrations in the capital, Ouagadougou.

These protests are the most serious yet against Mr Compaore’s rule.

At least one person was killed in the protests, says BBC Afrique’s Yacouba Ouedraogo in the capital.

The main opposition leader, Zephirin Diabre, said dozens of protesters had been killed across the country by the security forces in a “barbaric escalation of violence”.

The military fired live bullets to try to disperse protesters who had occupied parliament, our correspondent says.

Protesters also surged towards the presidential palace, and a government helicopter flying overhead fired tear gas at them, Reuters news agency reported.

Witnesses say dozens of soldiers joined the protest in Ouagadougou’s main square, including a former defence minister, Gen Kouame Lougue.

Protesters demanded his installation as president, our reporter says.

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Blaise Compaore

President Blaise Compaore spoke to the BBC earlier this week

  • Served under President Thomas Sankara as minister of state to the presidency
  • Took power after Sankara was killed in mysterious circumstances by a group of soldiers in 1987
  • First elected president in 1991 and again in 1998
  • A new constitution in 2000 limited presidents to two terms in office, and limited terms to five years
  • Won two further terms
  • Protests at attempts to amend the term limits began a year ago, fuelled by the high cost of living
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The city hall, the homes of MPs, and an upmarket hotel in Ouagadougou were also set ablaze.

Similar protests hit the south-western city of Bobo Dioulasso, and other towns in the poor West African state.

State television went off air after protesters ransacked its headquarters.

Map showing Burkina Faso

Mr Compaore first took power in a coup in 1987, and has won four disputed elections since then.

A former soldier, he has faced outbreaks of violence on several occasions, including a military mutiny in 2011.

Correspondents say he has always managed to stay in power by using a combination of conciliation and moderate force.

But the current tensions have been building for several months, and it is not clear whether he can survive this time.

Mr Compaore is a staunch ally of the US and France, which uses Burkina Faso as a base for military operations against militant Islamists in the Sahel region.

But the country is one of West Africa’s poorest, and is vulnerable to changes in world prices for cotton, the economic mainstay of many Burkinabes. BBC

Emergency rule declared in Burkina Faso

BBC

30 October 2014
Burkina Faso army announces emergency measures

As it happened: Burkina Faso unrest
Thomas Sankara’s legacy
Compaore: ‘What I’m doing is legal’ Watch
Burkina Faso’s military has announced emergency measures – including the formation of a transitional government – after a day of violent protests.

Demonstrators angered by President Blaise Compaore’s bid to extend his 27-year rule earlier set fire to parliament and government buildings.

Protesters in the capital, Ouagadougou, are calling for him to resign.

The emergency moves announced by army chief Gen Honore Traore did not say who would lead the interim administration.

At a press conference, he declared the imposition of an overnight curfew, as well as the dissolution of parliament.

Gen Traore announced that a “transitional body [would] be put in place in consultation with all parties”.

“A return to the constitutional order is expected in no more than 12 months,” he said.

Earlier, President Compaore issued a statement, declaring the emergency and saying that the head of the armed forces was in charge of implementing the decision.

The protests in the capital – the most serious yet against Mr Compaore’s rule – forced MPs to abandon a vote aimed at allowing the president to seek re-election in 2015.

The defence forces have been trying to disperse the protesters
The main opposition leader, Zephirin Diabre, told a local radio station the state of emergency was unacceptable.

“We are calling on the people to show that they are against it,” he was quoted as saying. “The resignation of President Blaise Compaore is the only thing that can bring peace to the country.”

At least one person has been killed in the protests, says BBC Afrique’s Yacouba Ouedraogo in the capital.

Mr Diabre said dozens of protesters had been killed across the country by the security forces.

It was a “barbaric escalation of violence”, he said.

The military fired live bullets to try and disperse protesters who had occupied parliament, our correspondent says.

Protesters also surged towards the presidential palace, and a government helicopter flying overhead fired tear gas at them, Reuters news agency reports.

The BBC’s Laeila Adjovi: “All around me there’s black smoke”
Witnesses say dozens of soldiers have joined the protest in Ouagadougou’s main square, including a former defence minister, Gen Kouame Lougue.

Protesters are demanding his installation as president, our reporter says.

‘TV off air’
The city hall, the homes of MPs, and an upmarket hotel in Ouagadougou were also set ablaze.

Similar protests hit the south-western city of Bobo Dioulasso, and other towns in the poor West African state.

Blaise Compaore

President Blaise Compaore spoke to the BBC earlier this week
Served under President Thomas Sankara as minister of state to the presidency
Took power after Sankara was killed in mysterious circumstances by a group of soldiers in 1987
First elected president in 1991 and again in 1998
A new constitution in 2000 limited presidents to two terms in office, and limited terms to five years
Won two further terms
Protests at attempts to amend the term limits began a year ago, fuelled by the high cost of living

State television went off air after protesters stormed the building housing it and ransacked it.

“A state of emergency is declared across the national territory,” the president’s statement said, as quoted by Reuters.

“The chief of the armed forces is in charge of implementing this decision which enters into effect today.

“I dissolve the government from today so as to create conditions for change. I’m calling on the leaders of the political opposition to put an end to the protests. I’m pledging from today to open talks with all the actors to end the crisis.”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, will fly to Burkina Faso on Friday in an attempt to ease the crisis, the UN said in a statement.

Mr Compaore first took power in a coup in 1987, and has won four disputed elections since then.

The protests forced the government to suspend Thursday’s parliamentary vote on a constitutional amendment that would have lifted the limit on presidential terms so that Mr Compaore could run for office again in 2015.

Mr Compaore is a staunch ally of the US and France, which uses Burkina Faso as a base for military operations against militant Islamists in the Sahel region.

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Burkina Faso – protestors march on presidential palace

Reuters

Protesters march on Burkina presidency after burning parliament

OUAGADOUGOU Thu Oct 30, 2014

A soldier runs from anti-government protesters as they take over the parliament building in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 30, 2014.   REUTERS-Joe Penney
An anti-government protester throws a tear gas canister at riot police in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 30, 2014.  REUTERS-Joe Penney
People march against Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore's plan to change the constitution to stay in power in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 29, 2014.    REUTERS-Joe Penney

A soldier runs from anti-government protesters as they take over the parliament building in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 30, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Penney

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – Thousands of protesters marched on Burkina Faso’s presidential palace after burning the parliament building and ransacking state television offices on Thursday, forcing President Blaise Compaore to scrap a plan to extend his 27-year rule.

Emergency services said at least three protesters were shot dead and several others wounded by security forces when the crowd tried to storm the home of Compaore’s brother. Security forces also fired live rounds and tear gas at protesters near the presidency in the Ouaga 2000 neighborhood.

Black smoke swirled in the air above parliament after demonstrators lit fires inside the building before looting computers and televisions screens and wheeling away police motor-bikes, a Reuters reporter said.

Lawmakers had been due to vote on Thursday on a government plan to change the constitution to allow Compaore – who took power in a coup in 1987 – to stand for re-election next year, when he was due to stand down.

Alain Edouard Traore, communications minister, later said the government had dropped the proposal to amend a two-term limit on the presidential mandate.

But protesters told Reuters they would not stop until Compaore was forced to step aside. Burkinabe officials said there were also large-scale protests in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina’s second biggest town, and Ouahigouya, to the north.

“We did this because Blaise was trying to stay too long. We are tired of him,” said Seydou Kabre, a protester in the crowd in Ouagadougou. “We want a change. He must go!”

Most deputies had not yet arrived for the vote when protesters, who had set up barricades outside parliament from early on Thursday, stormed the building. The crowd surged forward after police fired warning shots in the air.

A Reuters reporter saw nearby structures also on fire and vehicles outside the parliament being smashed.

State television was forced off the air after the building was taken. Soldiers deployed outside state radio with an armored personnel carrier to defend it from the crowd.

Opposition leader Zephirin Diabre said on his Twitter feed he was opposed to any coup in Burkina Faso just hours after he had urged armed forces to join the people in a speech broadcast live from his headquarters.

Local radio and a diplomatic source said opposition leaders held talks with an influential army General Kouame Lougue about a possible transition. The same diplomatic source said members of Compaore’s government had been arrested at the airport trying to leave the country.

A Reuters witness said protesters took one of the dead bodies from the streets and wrapped it in the national flag, while softly singing Burkina’s anthem. They then drove it to the central Place de la Nation, where more protesters had gathered.

INCREASING OPPOSITION

Compaore has ruled the cotton and gold-producing nation with a firm grip but, in recent years, he has faced increasing criticism, including from within his own camp and the military.

“If needs be we are going to march to the presidency. We want Blaise Compaore to leave, We want change,” said George Sawadogo, a 23-year-old student.

Opposition to Compaore’s plan have been mounting in recent days.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Ouagadougou and other towns across the country on Tuesday in what the opposition said was the start of a campaign of civil disobedience over the proposed constitutional reform. The government has called for restraint.

“This seems to have moved us to a situation where Compaore will have to leave power before the end of his term next year,” said Gilles Yabi, an independent West Africa analyst. “It will depend on how the security forces react, but I can’t imagine that Blaise will be able to finish his term if there is serious violence today.”

France has called on Compaore to adhere to African Union rules preventing constitutional changes that allow leaders to stay in power. The U.S. government has said it is concerned.

“All bets are off now,” said one Western diplomat in Ouagadougou, who asked not to be identified.  Reuters

 

Burkina Faso – protestors set parliament ablaze

BBC

Protesters angry at plans to allow Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year-rule have set fire to parliament.

Correspondents say the city hall and ruling party headquarters are also in flames.

A huge crowd is surging towards the presidential palace and the main airport has been shut.

MPs have suspended a vote on changing the constitution to allow Mr Compaore to stand for re-election next year.

Five people have been killed in the protests, among the most serious against Mr Compaore’s rule, reports BBC Afrique’s Yacouba Ouedraogo from the capital.

The military had earlier fired live bullets at protesters who had stormed parliament, he says.

Map showing Burkina Faso

Dozens of soldiers have reportedly joined the protests, including a former defence minister, General Kouame Lougue.

The main opposition leader, Zephirin Diabre, has called on the military to side with “the people”.

State TV off air

Mr Compaore’s whereabouts are unknown, but he has appealed for calm via Twitter.

He first took power in a coup in 1987, and has won four disputed elections since then.

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Eyewitness Joost Laane told BBC Focus on Africa:

I am in an area where many MPs live – and I have seen two of their homes set ablaze and smoke coming out of another two or three homes. Hotel Azalai, one of the main hotels in the city, is also on fire.

Two helicopters flew over my house – the president’s and a normal helicopter. I cannot confirm whether the president was in one of them.

No-one knows what is going to happen next. It is chaotic and tense. We hear sporadic gunfire.

There is no TV anymore. So we are depending on internet access and phone calls. The 3G network and the texting system are blocked.

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The opposition has called for a campaign of civil disobedience to demand that he steps down in elections next year.

“October 30 is Burkina Faso’s Black Spring, like the Arab Spring,” opposition activist Emile Pargui Pare told AFP news agency.

Burkina Faso's parliament on fire (30 October 2014)Demonstrators breached the security around parliament and set it on fire
A man stands in front of a burning car, near the Burkina Faso's Parliament where demonstrators set fire to parked cars - 30 October 2014, Ouagadougou, Burkina FasoCars were also set ablaze near parliament
Men shout slogans in front of burning cars, near the Burkina Faso's parliament - 30 October 2014,  Ouagadougou, Burkina FasoThe protesters do not want Mr Compaore to change the constitution to extend his rule
Burkina Faso troops try to disperse protesters in Ouagadougou on 30 October 2014 The defence forces have been trying to disperse the protesters

State television has gone off air after protesters stormed the building housing it and ransacked it, Reuters quotes a witness as saying.

About 1,500 people breached the security cordon at parliament, AFP reports.

Protesters were setting fire to documents and stealing computer equipment and cars outside the building were also set on fire, it reports.

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Blaise Compaore

President Blaise Compaore: “My concern today is not to build a future for myself – but to see how the future of this country will take shape”

  • Served under President Thomas Sankara as minister of state to the presidency
  • Took power after Sankara was killed in mysterious circumstances by a group of soldiers in 1987
  • First elected president in 1991 and again in 1998
  • A new constitution in 2000 limited presidents to two term limits in office and limited the term to five years
  • Won two further terms
  • Protests at attempts to amend the term limits began a year ago, fuelled by the high cost of living
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A massive crowd has also converged on the main square in Ouagadougou, and are marching towards the presidential palace, which is about 5km (three miles) away, our reporter says.

A government helicopter flying overhead was firing tear gas at them, Reuters reports.

There are also reports of protests in the south-western city of Bobo Dioulasso.

The government has been forced to suspend Thursday’s parliamentary vote on a constitutional amendment that would have lifted the limit on presidential terms so that Mr Compaore could run for office again in 2015.

It is not clear whether the government intends to hold the vote at a later stage, correspondents say.

Mr Compaore is a staunch ally of the US and France, which uses Burkina Faso as a base for military operations against militant Islamists in the Sahel region.

Both France and the European Union (EU) have called on him to scrap the proposed constitutional amendment.

The EU said it could jeopardise Burkina Faso’s stability. The US has also raised concern about the proposed amendment.

Zimbabwe – pro-government paper reports Mujuru corruption expose

What a surprise. Now that Grace Mugabe is gunning for Mujuru the pro-Mugabe Herald is digging into corruption reports. The whole system is corrupt, but like Zuma with Malema in South Africam they suddenly become a problem when political competition comes into it. KS

 

allAfrica/Herald

Zimbabwe: V-P Mujuru in U.S$1 Million Scandal

DETAILS of Vice President Joice Mujuru’s illicit business dealings have begun to emerge amid revelations she received, and signed for thousands of dollars in illegal cash payments from Kenyan and Indian financiers who had invested in the Mujuru family-owned duty-free shops at the Harare International Airport before the VP elbowed out the investors in a manner that bordered on extortion and abuse of office.

Not only did the VP receive cash payments in violation of the Companies Act and income tax regulations, but she also stands accused of having abused her office and political status to compel the lawyers of the aggrieved party to unethically renounce agency in addition to running the investors out of town soon after they had pumped in over $1 million in capital and made tens of thousands of dollars in cash payments to the VP, her daughter Nyasha De Campo and Mr Tirivanhu Mudariki, who is listed as a director in International Travel Shops.

Documents in possession of The Herald show that Vice President Mujuru had interests in duty-free shops at the Harare International Airport trading as International Travel Shops Africa (Pvt) Ltd with Tirivanhu Mudariki as director, along with VP Mujuru’s daughter Nyasha De Campo (nee Mujuru), two Kenyans Mukesh Vaya and Nilesh Ashkal Kantil as well as Babu RM a citizen of India.

Though the VP is not listed among the directors, her name features prominently in the documents.

Sometime in 2011, Africa Duty Free Investments (Pvt) — the proprietors of International Travel Shops Africa — negotiated with Kenyans who have a company called Susan General Trading that is incorporated in Dubai to inject stock and capital in International Travel Shops Africa.

In terms of the agreement, International Travel Shops Africa were to offload 50 percent shareholding, translating to 5000 shares, to Susan General Trading for $150 000 payable to the company, International Travel Shops Africa.

In addition to the 50 percent shareholding, there was supposed to be payment of goodwill payable, again, to International Travel Shops Africa, a loan of $50 000 to shareholders of International travel shops Africa and repayable through dividends, and a loan of $1 million to the company meant for capital injection.

Contrary to provisions of the Companies Act, cash payments were made directly to the directors, including VP Mujuru who was not shown on company documents as either director or shareholder.

VP Mujuru, Mrs De Campo and Mr Mudariki each received the payments, which they personally signed for on the documents in our possession, in the following amounts:

VP Mujuru: $25 000 on December 30 2011, $25 000 on January 3 2012, and $20 000 on January 5 2012 to make a total of $70 000.

Tirivanhu Mudariki: $25 000 on December 30 2011, $25 000 on January 9 2012, $20 000 on January 13 2012, and $40 000 on January 17 2012 to make a cumulative $100 000.

Nyasha Noreen Nyorova: $25 000 on December 30 2011, $25 000 on January 3 2012, and $20 000 on January 5 2012 to make a cumulative $70 000.

It is, however, not clear whether Zimra got its dues though indications are the tax laws were violated.

The last cash payment was made in January 2012, but less than a month later after the consummation of the agreements and payment of cash and loans were made, Mr Mudariki on behalf of the shareholders of the International Travel Shops Africa began complaining that Susan General Trading, who had been given a management contract, was not properly running the affairs of International Travel Shops Africa.

In a letter dated February 29 2012, copied to VP Mujuru, Mr Mudariki expressed International Travel Shops Africa’s “utmost disappointment” in the manner in which International Travel Shops was being run by Susan General Trading and voiced their dissatisfaction and lack of confidence in its management team.

It appears from the documents that the directors of International Travel Shops expected a turnaround within a month of receiving their last cash payment, a development industry experts described as self-fulfilling criticism whose intention was extortionist.

“This complaint was deliberately designed to wreck the agreement by paving the way to manipulatively elbow out Susan General Trading soon after it made it made cash payments and provided loans and stock that had not been repaid,” said an industry source familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of political reprisals.

In consummating the agreement, Susan General Trading was represented by Musunga and Associates. When they were being controversially elbowed out, Susan General Trading cried foul and initially sought arbitration in accordance with the agreement.

But as relations irretrievably broke down and the disagreement escalated, the directors of International Travel Shops went political by invoking VP Mujuru’s name, and Musunga and Associates — who had represented Susan General Trading since 2011 — wrote a letter dated April 15 2013 to Susan General Trading unethically renouncing agency citing alleged conflict of interest saying they also represented Zanu-PF of which VP Mujuru is a senior leader.

“We refer to the above matter and herein advise that we will not be able to represent you in the above matter. We had hoped that the matter would be resolved amicably but the turn of events suggest that the parties are all geared to fight it out.

“Our firm represent the Zanu-PF in a number of cases and we note that our Honourable Vice President Mujuru is one of the parties. We, therefore, have a clear conflict of interest and we regret to advise that you will have to retain another firm of lawyers,” reads the letter from Musunga and Associates which clearly confirms VP Mujuru’s involvement in the matter which industry sources say is scandalous and illegal.

According to the documents, the lawyers had always known from the beginning that VP Mujuru had an interest in International Travel Shops.

Musunga and Associates, thus, effectively dumped their client and began representing VP Mujuru in the dispute raising very serious questions of unethical conduct on the part of the lawyers in a bid to protect VP Mujuru and to assist the extortionist elbowing out of Susan General Trading who as a result are said to have lost over a million dollars.

“Because of the controversial and unethical renunciation of agency by Musunga and Associates, Susan General Trading were left without legal recourse, were politically intimidated and threated and they ended up fleeing their investment and the country’s jurisdiction, and have not come back into Zimbabwe since then,” said an industry source.

A legal expert, who also spoke to the Herald on condition of anonymity in light of the ongoing interview for High Court judges, described how Susan General Trading was treated as a clear case of abuse of power and office.

“This is a very serious example of extortion, and abuse of office and political status. Although the case raises eyebrows, it is only a tip of iceberg. There are other similar cases whose corruption stinks to high heaven from an extortionist point of view”.

Efforts to get comment from Musunga and Associates, Mr Mudariki and Susan General Trading were unsuccessful last night.

During her highly subscribed “Meet the People” rallies in all 10 provinces, First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe rapped VP Mujuru and called on her to resign or risk being fired for alleged corruption, abuse of office, extorting shareholding from companies and demanding 10 percent bribes from potential investors.  allAfrica

Lesotho – political instability continues

allAfrica

Lesotho: No End to Lesotho’s Instability?

Photo: ISS

The country’s media reported on a coup attempt during the turmoil.

guest column

A political and security crisis in Lesotho has eased since parties agreed to call early elections next February in a bid to secure a new government with a clear mandate. But one of the root causes of the crisis – the right of legislators to change parties and “cross the floor” in Parliament – remains a source of instability in a country where political power has been spread among a range of different parties. Tšoeu Petlane examines the problem.

Maseru – One reason why Lesotho is in its current political fix is because of floor-crossing: members of Parliament (MPs) leaving the parties that sent them to Parliament and joining others.

Of course, there have been other factors behind the collapse of governance in the kingdom, including a weak coalition of politically incompatible partners as government after the indecisive 2012 general election, and contestation over the appointment of a new army chief in August.

But one of the reasons for delays in implementing various agreements signed by Lesotho’s feuding coalition leaders to reopen Parliament has been the threat that floor-crossing poses for Prime Minister Thomas Thabane: that he could be removed from power as a result of MPs scurrying about the aisles and altering the balance of power in the National Assembly.

The party that loses MPs typically bemoans the culprit’s disrespect and disregard for voters, and intimates it would want to see “something done” about it. On the other hand, straying MPs often justify their defection on the basis of both untenable conditions in their former party and the contention that their constituents support them. In the end, nothing is done about it – until there is an uproar the next time it happens.

So, with Parliament now reconvened, what will be, firstly, the possibilities of floor crossing between now and December, when Parliament is scheduled to dissolve, and secondly, its success in passing legislation to curb the practice? A more fundamental question is: why would Lesotho’s MPs either impose a moratorium on floor crossing between October and December, or legislate against it in the long term?

Lesotho’s current electoral model allows for two groups of National Assembly seats: constituency seats in which the single candidate who receives the most votes wins the seat (also called a “simple plurality” or first-past-the-post system) and party seats filled according to each party’s share of the popular vote nationally. Only constituency MPs have the right to defect in Parliament, and therefore any debate on floor crossing revolves round this group, who make up two-thirds of the house (80 of 120).

Despite the public outcry against crossing the floor when it happens, and the disruptive affects it has had on national politics and governance this year, it appears that given the chance and choice, MPs would want to retain this right. There are several reasons for this.

First, many MPs believe it is their right to make decisions about supporting and remaining in political parties beyond elections – just as it is the right of every citizen, whether elected or not. So this is a fundamental constitutional matter that, if limited or curtailed, would erode their freedom of choice, association, expression and conscience.

Taking this fundamentalist stance limits the possibilities of curbing floor-crossing.

Second, in the absence of legal restriction, the pacts and codes that political parties compel their MPs to sign remain unenforceable – as do calls from voters for either a recall or a fresh mandate. Whether moral suasion would be strong enough to bring about a moratorium remains doubtful, especially with no strong movement towards legislating against it yet.

Third, the historical experience and perceived power that the option of floor crossing places in the hands of MPs are strong incentives to keep the practice. The first floor crossing cases of the 1960s put Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan’s hold on state power on a secure footing after he had won a narrow two-seat majority in the pre-independence poll of 1965. Thirty years later, a whole new government emerged from within Parliament when the majority of MPs from the Basutoland Congress Party crossed the floor to found the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) in 1997. In 2012, the Democratic Congress (DC), the single biggest party in the current Parliament, was formed when MPs left the LCD. Curbing floor crossing would deny MPs this power.

No less than half of the 10 parties in the current Parliament are direct products of floor-crossing – including the three biggest current parties: the DC, the LCD and the All Basotho Convention of Prime Minister Thabane.

In short, none of the existing power brokers in Lesotho’s Parliament and government would exist if floor crossing was banned, and it is doubtful they will opt to outlaw this practice: it would be against their interests. So floor-crossing appears likely to be retained in Lesotho, now and in the foreseeable future. But where is the voice of the voter in all this?

Tšoeu Petlane is director of the Transformation Resource Centre in Maseru.  allAfrica

Nigeria – Boko Haram continue attacks in Adamawa with police station raid

Punch

Boko Haram members

Fighting between Nigerian troops and Boko Haram insurgents escalated in Mubi, Mararaba Mubi and Uba in Adamawa State on Wednesday.

Casualty figures could not be obtained as of 8pm but the development forced the state government to impose 24-hour curfew on the affected communities.

Our correspondents gathered that   Mubi, the second largest town in the state and host of two high institutions, was the worst hit.

A parent, Ahmad Sajoh, whose   daughter is studying at the Adamawa State University, said that as of 2pm on Wednesday, the police barracks in the Government Reservation Area was overrun by the insurgents while the prison in the town was blown open.

He added that   fighting which was ongoing at the army barracks caused confusion at the IDP camp in the Lamorde area of the town.

However, an online newspaper, SaharaReporters reported that Boko Haram insurgents took over the headquarters of the 234 battalion in the town.

Our correspondents gathered that the development made banks to move their cash to Yola, the state capital.

Sources told The PUNCH that insurgents   launched an attack on Uba   in the Michika-Madagali area of the state in response to sustained aerial bombardment of their hideouts by security forces.

Residents said they saw a large number of insurgents at Mararaba, a town about seven kilometres from Mubi.

Sajoh told one of our correspondents that his daughter called to inform him about the development in Mubi.

He said, “This morning, I got a call from my daughter who is a 200-level student. She was hysterical. I was in Abuja for a meeting, but her information forced me to head back to Yola immediately.

“I ordered her to leave the hostel and join her cousins to escape the town. I called my father who confirmed the story. By the time I arrived at Yola airport, the town had fallen to the insurgents.

“My parents are trapped while my daughter and her cousins are missing. We have lost contact for   six hours.”

Sajoh, who is the director of Press and Public Affairs to the former Governor Murtala Nyako, added, “Mallam Iliyasu of the Bursary Department of the state university, who is trapped in the town said by 2pm, the Police Barracks in the GRA was overrun by the insurgents, the prison was blown open while fighting was going on at the army barracks. The IDP camp at Lamorde area was thrown into confusion.

“The new rulers of the town had issued a decree banning   entry and exit to the town. Students who trooped to the motor park were stranded with most taking refuge in any house that could welcome them.

“The barracks are the least safe locations in the town. So far, there are no reported cases of killings or abductions. But fear and apprehension have taken over.”

Another source said that Mubi was currently deserted by residents after the incident, the second in three months.

The   higher institutions in the   town were forced to close down again.

There are fears of   humanitarian crisis should the town fall into the hands of the insurgents.

A fleeing resident, Joshua Gajere, said   several people might have been killed during the shootings that lasted for almost two hours in Uba and other villages.

He said, ‘‘We are in serious trouble as these boys (Boko Haram) have taken over our towns, splitting into groups and advancing towards Mararaba, Mubi and Vintim, the home town of the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh. They made the   Nigerian troops to retreat to Mubi’’.

Gajere added, “As I am talking to you now, residents are scampering for safety.

‘‘Mubi has now become a ghost of itself as people in their hundreds are fleeing for their lives.

‘‘Even here in Maiha, we saw military vehicles zooming off towards Yola, the state capital.’’

However, a resident from Michika, Mr. Siva Zira, told one of our correspondents that the   military was having an upper   hand as they were able to dislodge the insurgents in Michika and Uba.

Meanwhile,   Governor James Ngillari has asked the people of the state, particularly those in the affected areas to remain calm as security agents were on the top of the situation.

His Director of Press and Public Affairs,   P.P. Elisha, said   the governor met with security heads in the state to assess the situation.

He said, “It’s unfortunate with this development, His Excellency, has met with security chiefs in the state on Wednesday to assess the situation.

“People should remain calm, security agents are on the top of situation.’’

It was further gathered banks in Mubi have taken the pre-emptive steps to move out large volume of cash to the Central Bank of Nigeria in Yola.

Our correspondents could not get the Director, Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, to comment on the   hostilities as the calls to his mobile telephone line did not connect.

The government has imposed a 24-hour curfew on Mubi, Mararaba Mubi and Uba.

The Secretary to the State Government, Mr Andrew Weyle, who announced this, advised the people to stay away from the roads and other public places.

He said,“Following the escalation of violence by the insurgents, his Excellency the Governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Bala James Ngillari, has approved the imposition of 24 hours curfew on Mubi, Mararaba Mubi and Uba, with immediate effect.

“People are advised to stay off the roads and public places except those on essential services.”

It was further gathered that the insurgents   killed the son of a prominent traditional ruler in the area.

A resident, who identified himself as Kwahir Sani, said, “We fled to a village called Wuro Gude near Mubi when the violence erupted and I have lost contact with some of my children.

“As I am talking to you now, we are hearing gunshots by military in Mubi.”

It was gathered that the insurgents also attacked Askira Uba and Kukawa in Borno State for over six hours.

A fleeing resident said the terrorists killed many people, burnt many houses and carted away food stuffs.

Agence France Presse reported that the heavily armed terrorists, on arrival in Kukawa, opened fire on a police station and market, sending many fleeing.

Copyright PUNCH.