Malian President Amadou Toumani Touré says he is willing to step down and hold democratic elections in June. In an interview with RFI’s Alain Foka, he said he would do everything possible to ensure Mali had a democratically elected president by 10 June at the latest.
Mali is facing a crisis in the north of the country where Tuareg rebels, boosted by the return of fighters for late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, launched an offensive on 17 January and have attacked several towns as they demand autonomy for their nomadic tribe.
Touré denies claims that he is willing to fight a war against the rebels in return for staying in power.
“If I had to chose between Mali and war, I would chose Mali. I am ready to go, I will go and I wish with all my heart that Mali has a democratically elected president,” he said.
He also rejected claims that he does not want to put an end to the Tuareg rebellion in the north and said those behind these accusations want to stay in power and do not want elections to be held.
Critics have also accused Touré of not taking a strong enough line with rebels belonging to Aqmi, al-Qaeda’s north Africa wing, who have led an increasingly violent campaign in the country over the ten years of the president’s term. Read more…
By Richard Valdmanis
DAKAR (Reuters) – Senegal is heading for its most contentious election in recent history on Sunday overshadowed by political violence and a constitutional row that could sully its enviable reputation as West Africa’s most stable democracy.
President Abdoulaye Wade is seeking a third term against a field of more than a dozen challengers and he appears to have the edge over a divided opposition.
His candidacy has sparked deadly protests from opponents who say it flouts a two-term limit introduced by constitutional reform, and has also drawn criticism from trade and aid partners France and the United States. Opposition figures have said they are concerned Wade’s supporters will try to rig the elections.
At least six people have been killed in street clashes between opposition protesters and police since late January, when a top legal council whose lead judge was appointed by Wade ruled the 85-year-old could stand again.
“I think it is a crucial election for Senegal… (either) consolidating electoral democracy in the country or, if it goes bad, then it could be a … regression in democratic progress in Senegal and in the region,” said Gilles Yabi, the West Africa Project Director for the International Crisis Group think tank.
The European Union’s observer mission for the February 26 vote said it was concerned about problems and delays in distributing hundreds of thousands of voter cards, and about transparency and a police crackdown against opposition demonstrations. Read more…
Mail and Guardian
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe said on Sunday he will “definitely” call elections this year to end a fragile three-year coalition with the former opposition, while describing as “cowards” politicians who say polls cannot be held until well into 2013.
In an interview to mark his 88th birthday in the state media on Sunday, Mugabe dismissed objections to early polls.
“That is what cowards say. Elections can happen at any time … Definitely, yes,” this year, he said.
Mugabe turns 88 on Tuesday. Speaking to the loyalist Sunday Mail newspaper, he said money will be found in the embattled economy to pay for the presidential and parliamentary elections.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party says polling cannot go ahead until constitutional reforms are complete and rights groups have warned of an imminent upsurge of election violence.
The interview will be broadcast on state TV on Monday. Read more…
Read this very detailed and thoughtful analysis of the political prospects for Uhuru Kenyatta – gives a range of iteresting and informed views:
Reuters Africa – Insight by James Macharia
By James Macharia
GATUNDU, Kenya (Reuters) – Next door to the mansion where Kenya’s richest man, presidential contender and now war crimes suspect Uhuru Kenyatta grew up near the capital Nairobi, stands Francis Karanja’s mud hut with a tin roof.
Father of two Karanja voted for the 50-year-old Kenyatta to be his member of parliament, hoping the son of Kenya’s founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, would help him rise out of the poverty that traps millions of Kenyans.
“As you can see, Kenyatta is my neighbour. I feel he has neglected me since we voted him into parliament. We still struggle to make ends meet,” said Karanja, 39, who ekes out a meagre living selling milk he pours from a large jerrycan into one-litre bottles for his customers.
But despite his disappointment, and Kenyatta’s indictment last month for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Karanja says he will vote for the Kenyatta scion in a coming presidential election.
“I feel sympathy for him because of the charges he faces and will vote for him again. We Kikuyu are loyal to our own,” said Karanja, referring to the largest of Kenya’s more than 40 tribes to which both he and Kenyatta belong. Read more…
Posted in East Africa
Tagged elections, Githongo, ICC charges, Kalenjin, Karua, Kenneth, Kenyatta, Kibaki, Kikuyu, Luo, Odinga, Ruto
A week into 2012 is a good point at which to stop and consider what the year is likely to hold for Africa, with of course the caveat that what holds for one state or region does not automatically hold for another state or region.
The continuing political evolution in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia may encourage popular movements in other north or sub-Saharan states, as people bereft of control over their futures and with detatched, distant, unresponsive and often rapacious governments decide that they too can bring about change. Though as is developing in Egypt, that change may not be what protestors thought they had brought about or is more long-drawn out and violent than they hoped at the start of their “spring”.
In 1989 and the early 1990s, there was, to steal from Harold Macmillan, a new wind of change blowing through Africa – brought about b y many factors including the end of the cold war, the withdrawal of aid from socialist or western countries or the loss of strategic salience for some areas, and also a result of a slow build-up of anger among populations at the excesses and inadequacies of their leaders.
The results of that wave of change in Africa were patchy. The USA and EU, often using aid or the threat of its withdrawal as a lever, sought above all else to encourage free market economic reforms and the holding of Western-style elections on timetables that were unrealistic and favoured incumbents who still had their hands on the levers of power. President Omar Bongo of Gabon said in 1990 that the ‘wind from the east is shaking the coconut trees’. He bent with the wind a little and survived with his auocratic rule intact – it is is still intact following his detah with his son in power and able to ensure victory in elections through his entrenched power, control of key media and immense powers of patronage.
Sections follow on Kenya, Somalia, South Africa and Nigeria. Read more…
Posted in Africa - International, Business and Economics, East Africa, North Africa, Southern Africa
Tagged Africa 2012, Boko Haram, Egypt, elections, foreign intervention, ICC, Jonathan, Kenya, Kenyatta, Libya, malema, Nigeria, Ruto, Somalia, South Africa, Tunisia, Zuma
N tanks are patrolling Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, Abidjan, as polls open for parliamentary elections, the first such voting since a disputed presidential poll one year ago sparked months of violence.
Officials hope a calm election on Sunday will bring help bring stability and usher in a period of economic growth in the West African nation.
Violence erupted at the end of last year after the incumbent president at the time, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to step down in favour of the winner President Alassane Ouattara.
Gbagbo is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of four counts of crimes against humanity.
He is accused of being an “indirect co-perpetrator” of murder, rape, persecution and other inhuman acts.
Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front party (FPI) has called for a boycott of the elections. Read more…
By David Lewis and Jonny Hogg
KINSHASA (Reuters) – Clashes erupted between protesters and security forces in parts of Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday as diplomats scrambled to defuse tensions ahead of the country’s full election results.
Police fired tear gas at opposition supporters in Kinshasa, and gunfire rang out in a city in West Kasai province, an opposition stronghold, after the government shut down a television and radio broadcaster.
The U.N. mission in Congo led a delegation of diplomats to meet with incumbent President Joseph Kabila and his main rival, Etienne Tshisekedi, to ease tensions stretched by allegations the November 28 poll was mismanaged and fraudulent.
Partial preliminary results released so far – representing about half the ballots cast – show Kabila with a sizeable lead over Tshisekedi, but the opposition has said they would reject the outcome. Full preliminary results are due on Tuesday. Read more…
Voters in DR Congo are choosing their leaders in elections marred by violence and logistical difficulties.
At least four people died after gunmen attacked polling stations in the second city, Lubumbashi, officials say.
In the opposition stronghold of West Kasai, polling stations were reportedly set on fire by voters angry at long delays but the capital, Kinshasa was generally peaceful.
It is the second election since the end of wars in which four million died.
Etienne Tshisekedi, 78, seen as the strongest opposition candidate, has accused President Joseph Kabila, 40, of planning to rig the election.
At least three people were killed on Saturday in election clashes, leading to a police ban on final campaign rallies.
Ahead of the vote, international organisations appealed for calm.
Some 22,000 UN peacekeepers are stationed around the country and are expected to help prevent any outbreaks of violence. Read more…
Harare — THE Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz) yesterday granted two free-to-air licences to Zimpapers and Supa Mandiwanzira’s AB Communications in a move widely seen as a consolidation of Zanu PF’s grip on the airwaves.
Baz chairperson Tafataona Mahoso told journalists in Harare that Zimpapers’ Talk Radio and Mandiwanzira’s Zi Radio had been granted the licences ahead of Hot Media’s Kiss FM and VOX Media’s VOX FM after scoring the highest points in the selection process.
But media groups immediately dismissed the outcome as a farce and an indication that government was not sincere in its pledge to open up the airwaves.
Mahoso, who does not hide his disdain for the independent media, did not field any questions from journalists during the media brief. Read more…
Tens of thousands of demonstrators have packed Cairo’s Tahrir Square after days of deadly clashes, demanding the
military rulers step down and rejecting their choice of new prime minister.
Ahead of elections due to start on Monday despite the political turmoil, Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) asked Kamal el-Ganzouri, 78, a prime minister under deposed president Hosni Mubarak, to head a new cabinet.
“Previous cabinets over the past 60 years were given many powers by the president of the republic,” Ganzouri told a press conference on Friday, his first public statement after his appointment.
He himself had been granted “much more powers” than past predecessors, said Ganzouri, who served as Mubarak’s prime minister between 1996 and 1999.
But protesters in the square of the Egyptian capital on Friday quickly rejected his appointment, saying he was not the man to lead a transition to democracy. Read more…