Nigeria – government condemns ex-militants threat of violence if Jonathan not re-elected

Punch

 

Federal Government has condemned the threat by some ex-militants that they would declare war against the nation, if President Goodluck Jonathan did not win the forthcoming election.

Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, described the threat by the warlords as reprehensible, noting that there was no basis for such threats, stressing that Jonathan had said that he would concede defeat if he lost the presidential election.

Addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday, Moro stated that the President had promised free and credible elections and therefore cautioned against inflammatory remarks and actions that may plunge the country into avoidable crisis.

He said,”It is reprehensible for people to threaten this country with mayhem and violence should their candidate lose the elections. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has not left anybody in doubt as to his preparedness to conduct a free, fair, credible and transparent election.

“Mr. President has said that in the unlikely event of his losing the election, in the course of this exercise, that he was democratic enough to concede defeat.

” And so if Mr President himself, who is the main contestant in this election, who is the President of this country, who is the leader of the PDP has come out to say that he was going to ensure free and fair elections where the choice of Nigerians would be respected, I do not see where statements from the supporters of either Mr. President or any other political parties for that matter should derail the course of this democratic movement.”

The minister said that the anxiety over the elections was unwarranted, noting that it was in the character of elections to generate hype in the media, adding that the Federal Government was determined to conduct hitch-free elections.

He said in spite of the hype about the elections, Nigerians have nothing to worry about, stressing that citizens do not need to leave their state of residence for other parts of the country as being reported.

The minister said adequate security would be provided during the polls, noting that all the security agencies have been sufficiently mobilized, stressing that the necessary men and materials would be deployed to ensure a credible electoral process.

Moro stated that foreigners would not be allowed to vote during the elections, as according to him, the Nigeria Immigration Service has heightened its surveillance of the borders and is working with other security outfits to make sure only registered Nigerians exercise their franchise.

ISS says African Union should act early on presidents’ third term bids

ISS

The AU should take early action on third term bids
29 January 2015

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The African Union (AU) has a critical role to play in ensuring democratic governance in Africa. It should therefore speak out strongly against attempts by African leaders to manipulate constitutions to extend their mandates, said the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).

At a seminar yesterday on the margins of the 24th bi-annual AU summit, held in Addis Ababa, ISS researchers said the AU Constitutive Act and other documents, like the 2007 Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance provide a framework for ensuring democratic changes of government on the continent. Civil society organisations and groups opposing constitutional changes to prolong the rule of the incumbents – like those in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – should be able to draw on the support of the AU, said the ISS.

The popular overthrow of Burkina Faso’s former president Blaise Compaoré has set a precedent and indicates the strong opposition in many parts of the continent against African leaders who stay in power for extended periods.

Stephanie Wolters, head of the Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis division of the ISS, said efforts by leaders to prolong their mandates is already causing political instability in countries like the DRC, Burundi and the Republic of Congo.

‘In all three of these countries, the constitutions were the result of negotiations following conflict and therefore the efforts to change them are a very emotional issue. People see them as a step backwards.’

The decision by the senate of the DRC to block the government’s proposed controversial new law, which would potentially postpone presidential elections for several years, was ‘unprecedented’ and seen as a victory for the opposition, she said.

Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni, head of the ISS office in Dakar, said interventions by the AU and regional economic communities like the Economic Community of West African Sates (ECOWAS) to sanction unconstitutional changes of government should be better coordinated. ‘For sanctions to work, they must be seen as a real threat,’ she said.

It is critical for the AU to pre-empt possible instability linked to elections and the issue of presidential mandates, said the ISS. The AU has sent special envoys to Togo and Burundi recently to try and mitigate the risk of violence in those countries. In Togo the constitution does not impose term limits, but there is strong opposition against President Faure Gnassingbé’s bid for a third term. In Burundi supporters of a third term for President Pierre Nkurunziza are arguing that he should constitutionally be able to run for elections later this year.

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Lesotho – next month’s elections will not be enough to solve the political impasse

ISS

Lesotho: elections are not enough

29 January 2015

On 30 August 2014, an attempted coup in the Kingdom of Lesotho, led by an elite group within the military, threatened the country’s already fragile stability.

Parliament hadn’t been functioning for an extended period, which triggered a political crisis. Led by Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, the coup resulted in the exile of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to South Africa.

Following negotiations with mediator Cyril Ramaphosa, the parties agreed to hold elections on 28 February 2015 (as agreed in the Maseru facilitation declaration and the Maseru security accord), two years earlier than originally scheduled.

The recent attempted coup resurgence of conflict in Lesotho suggests that previous attempts to resolve tensions have been superficial, and have insufficiently addressed the root causes of the crisis. Elections are only one part of what should be a much broader strategy to address the conflict. There is therefore a risk that the February elections might be a quick fix attempt at a solution that once again fails to address the deeper problems facing the country.

The main causes of the kingdom’s tensions are its governance structures. A coalition government has ruled since May 2012, consisting of the three dominant parties: the Basotho National Party (BNP), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and All Basotho Convention (ABC).

Previous attempts to resolve tensions have been superficial

The parties clashed over the appropriate distribution of resources within the coalition government. This division became increasingly visible at the beginning of September last year between the parties of the Prime Minister Thabane (ABC) who is allegedly supported by the police, and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing (LCD), who is said to have the loyalty of the military forces.

This has contributed to a breakdown in the security structure, creating an especially hostile relationship between the military and police. The recent coup attempt was not the first time the people of Lesotho have experienced insecurity. In 1998, the country experienced a political crisis after some Basotho alleged that election results had been fraudulent. Some 113 people died in post-election violence, where the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and South Africa intervened. The coalition government that was formed in 2012 was a way of addressing some of the political tension from 1998.

A peacebuilding strategy must be included in any attempt to resolve the Lesotho crisis. The United Nations (UN) defines peacebuilding as action to strengthen peace and avoid relapse into conflict, while other literature refers to peacebuilding as a range of measures targeted to reduce the risk of repeated conflict by strengthening national capacities at all levels.

February elections might be a quick fix attempt at a solution

Therefore the kingdom’s peacebuilding strategies should also include dialogue, capacity-building, good governance, reform in the justice and security sectors, and socio-economic development. A fundamental challenge in Lesotho is the issue of good governance and power sharing, despite the 2012 formation of a coalition government. In July 2014, just a month before the political crisis took place, there were already early warnings issued by the Commonwealth Envoy to Lesotho.

In their report titled Governance in Lesotho: Repositioning for Success, the panel made several recommendations, including that the government’s Parliamentary Reform Committee should undertake a review of Lesotho’s parliamentary processes and institutions to prevent political instability within the government.

According to Thabang Matjama from the Open Society initiative for Southern Africa, one of the challenges with a coalition government is that parties use state resources to accumulate power for themselves. Lesotho is a case in point, where the three parties seem more concerned with gaining power than addressing the needs of ordinary Basotho.

The main causes of the kingdom’s tensions are its governance structures

Other peacebuilding strategies can be creating national dialogues between civil society, government and the private sector, which will allow people to come together and build strength, unity and healing after conflict. Peacebuilding practitioners such as the UN argue that a lack of inclusivity causes peace agreements to fail, and that inclusivity is essential to any long-lasting solution to conflict.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan, peace agreements also arguably failed because they did not initially include all the relevant parties to the conflict. On 17 October 2014, Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s Deputy President and the SADC facilitator of the peace negotiations, announced that Kamoli had left the kingdom along with two of his rivals as part of a deal to restore security.

It is unclear how Kamoli’s departure affects the prospects of much-needed dialogue. If the root causes of the conflict are to be addressed, Ramaphosa and his team should create a platform that enables all parties to engage in open and transparent dialogue sessions, which will expose the fundamental triggers of the country’s unrest. Greater attention should be paid to developing peacebuilding strategies that address a lack of inclusivity. In solving the Lesotho crisis, it is imperative that all relevant parties are involved. Moreover, civil society and government should work together to find solutions and address the fundamental challenges faced by the military and the police force, and their loyalties to the prime minister and his deputy.

Successful elections next month will be an important milestone for establishing stability in Lesotho, but will only be successful if they form part of a broader process. Peacebuilding activities – formal and informal dialogues, engaging in coalition building, reconciliation, and the inclusion and participation of the relevant local actors – have not yet been considered in the facilitation processes. Therefore, as it prepares for the elections, Lesotho must seriously engage in peacebuilding processes to prevent a resurgence of violence. Reforming the parliamentary system should be the first step.

Gugu Selela, Research Intern, and Sibongile Gida, Junior Researcher, Conflict Management and Peacebuilding Division, ISS Pretoria

South Sudan – Kiir rushed to hospital with stress-related illness

Sudan Tribune

January 28, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudanese president Salva Kiir was rushed to hospital in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa, on Wednesday after he fell ill during a meeting.

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South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (AFP)

Kiir arrived in Addis Ababa on Tuesday to attend the 24th ordinary session of the assembly of head of states and government of the African Union (AU).

He was also expected to attend the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD) leaders summit due to kick off on Thursday to discuss the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.

Kiir’s sudden illness interrupted a meeting between the president and rebel leader Riek Machar, which was being hosted by Ethiopian prime minister and IGAD chairperson Hailemariam Desalegn ahead of the leaders summit, which was due to be held on the side lines of the AU assembly.

The direct talks were aimed at securing an agreement between the rival leaders on a series of contentious issues, particularly on the structure of the agreed interim government.

The meeting was also being held to brief African leaders on the progress of the IGAD-led mediation process and to reports on the outcome of consultation meetings between the government and rebel faction held in Juba and Pagak during the recess.

An IGAD source later told Sudan Tribune that president Kiir had suffered a nosebleed brought on by “stress”.

As a result, IGAD was forced to cancel the meeting between the two rival leaders.

IGAD has also been forced to delay the regional leaders meeting.

IGAD officials told Sudan Tribune that if Kiir’s condition does not improve by Thursday, the leaders summit may have to be postponed indefinitely.

According to medical doctor Yonas Yohannes, one of the main causes of non-trauma induced nosebleeds is an increase in blood pressure caused by either stress, excessive consumption of alcohol, dry climate or heavy smoking.

However, he cautioned that the causes of Kiir’s illness could not be properly determined without a thorough medical examination.

(ST)

Nigeria – AU may agree anti-Boko Haram force this week

Reuters

(Reuters) – The African Union (AU) might grant a mandate as early as this week for a regional military force to combat Islamist Boko Haram militants, a vital step towards securing U.N. Security Council backing, a diplomat said on Tuesday.

Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin agreed in Niger’s capital Niamey this month that the AU would seek U.N. support for the operation to take on Boko Haram, which is fighting to create an Islamic emirate in northern Nigeria.

The Islamists have made incursions into neighbouring Cameroon and threaten the stability of a region that includes Niger and Chad. Benin lies on Nigeria’s western border.

Smail Chergui, the commissioner of the AU’s Peace and Security Council, said tackling Boko Haram was on the agenda for talks in Addis Ababa, where African leaders hold a summit meeting later this week. He did not give details.

A diplomat, asking not to be identified, told Reuters the AU’s Peace and Security Council might approve the mandate for the multinational force when it meets on Thursday evening.

He said the roughly 3,000-strong force would be “mandated by the AU and supported by the U.N.”, noting that the aim would be to obtain U.N. Security Council backing “as soon as possible”.

A U.N. mandate could help draw in international assistance for the African regional force.

The African group plans to meet in early February in Cameroon to draw up a “concept of operations” to cover strategy, rules of engagement, command and control, and related issues.

Each of the five nations would contribute a battalion – 500 soldiers from Benin and about 700 from each of the other four – and each contingent would based within its national borders with operations coordinated from Chad’s capital N’Djamena.

Kenya – ICC witness Yebei allegedly seen near Eldoret

Star (Nairobi)

Thursday, January 29, 2015 – 00:00 — BY EUGENE OKUMU KILLED: ICC witness Meshack Yebei.The search for the missing ICC witness Meshack Yebei took a new twist when eyewitnesses said they have on several occasions spotted a man resembling Yebei on the outskirts of Eldoret town even after reports of his disappearance. Boda boda riders in Kiplombe led Yebei’s family led by his brother Reverend Moses Kisoria to a semi-permanent house where he was said to have been seen as recently as Saturday last week. “I saw him last Saturday. I have carried him on my motorcycle twice since you people reported that he had disappeared,” one of the riders said. Neighbours however contradicted the allegations of the riders saying no one has been to the house since the family left for Christmas.

Yebei was allegedly abducted on December 27, 2014 from Turbo market North of Eldoret where he had gone to have his sick child treated. A body initially believed to be that of Yebei’s was retrieved by police at River Yala bridge on January 5 this year bearing marks of barbaric torture – his ears were chopped off and his head had deep cut wounds. A DNA test however established that the retrieved body was that of Hussein Yusuf. Yusuf was buried on January 22 by family at the Eldoret Muslim cemetery. – See more at: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/yebei-spotted-outskirts-eldoret-town#sthash.9UphqMID.dpuf

South Africa – ANC moves to ban EFF hard hats and overalls in parliament

Mail and Guardian
The ANC in Parliament has flexed its muscle, proposing a ban on hard hats and overalls worn by EFF members, and blocking the use of secret ballots.

ANC MPs have insisted that red overalls worn by their Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) counterparts are now prohibited. And the ruling party has successfully fought against the use of secret ballots when making key decisions of Parliament, saying members are there to represent the party’s interests above all others.

In one of the clearest signs yet that ANC deployees in Parliament are implementing the party’s decision to squeeze the breakaway EFF and whip its MPs into line, senior ANC MPs have stated that they want to see evidence that their fellow deployees carry out the mandate in full.

ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakuda and ANC MPs Nyami Booi and Lemias Mashile banded together to fight for what they called a dignified dress code and against the EFF’s proposal for the use of secret ballots in key decision-making in Parliament.

The five-hour meeting of the parliamentary rules sub-committee meeting was influenced by the ANC’s irritation with the EFF dress code that is signified by workers’ overalls, but also by the breakaway party constantly challenging the ANC at any given opportunity in Parliament.

‘Rise to the occasion’
Booi told the meeting on Wednesday that the ANC would use its 62.3% majority representation to impose a parliamentary dress code that would ban EFF overalls, in line with a call by the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting of November for party MPs to “rise to the occasion” and deal swiftly and firmly with their EFF counterparts.

ANC NEC members are generally irked by EFF MPs perceived to be disorderly and giving the ruling party a difficult time. At that ANC’s NEC meeting a discussion after President Jacob Zuma’s political overview concluded that being soft on the EFF was not helping the ruling party.

In speaking out against the use of a secret ballot in Parliament – proposed by EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu who said MPs should be allowed to vote with their conscience – Dlakuda said as members of the ruling party, they were deployed to represent the ANC’s views. “We are here to push the agenda and decisions of our parties and policies as such. We expect our members to follow the party line; it doesn’t matter how or when.”

“Whether they feel like it or not we force people to vote according to party lines. We don’t agree with the secret ballot,” she said.

Shivambu took on the ANC MPs, but was powerless against the ruling party’s higher representation.

MPs will now present to the National Assembly’s rules committee a proposal that overalls, hard hats, jeans, shorts and flip-flops are outlawed and that formal and semi-formal clothes as well as traditional outfits be adopted as the minimum dress code for Parliament.

‘We don’t wear makarapas’
A compromise would be made for Cuban and Madiba shirts as they are accepted as being decent.

Shivambu said his party would keep wearing overalls and hard hats to represent the working class, even after the multi-party committee had agreed to a proposal to ban the party’s “uniform”.

He said EFF would seek recourse in a court of law if necessary. “Yes forbid the vests, shorts and jeans. Bheki Cele comes in with a hat inside the house all the time. We don’t wear makarapas during sessions of Parliament.”

The ANC on the other hand argued that hard hats could be used as weapons and gumboots were meant for dancing. “It’s a simple principle, we are going to use our majority to arrive at what we think is good for society. All our parties are representing the same poor. Society and Parliament cannot be held at ransom,” Booi said.

Other opposition parties Inkatha Freedom Party and Congress of the People agreed that a minimum dress code was necessary.

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