Middle East and North Africa

Articles about voting issues in the Middle East and North Africa.

Israel: Twitter suspends accounts spreading fake news to Israelis ahead of election | Haaretz

Twitter suspended 61 accounts linked to foreign fake news manipulation campaigns aimed at the Israeli public, ahead of the April 9 election. The move brings to 343 the number of accounts suspended by Twitter since election was announced last month, Elad Ratson of Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry tweeted on Monday. Ratson is the ministry’s director of research and development. The new group of 61 accounts had a total of more than 28,000 followers, and most of them were in English. Meanwhile, Facebook announced in a statement on Monday that it would launch in various countries, including Israel, “additional tools to help prevent foreign interference and make political and issue advertising on Facebook more transparent.” Advertisers will need to be authorized to purchase political ads; Facebook will give people more information about ads related to politics and issues; and it will create a publicly searchable library of these ads for up to seven years, the statement said.

Full Article: Twitter suspends accounts spreading fake news to Israelis ahead of election - Israel News - Haaretz.com.

Israel: Experts call for international cooperation against election cyber attacks | Jerusalem Post

Governments around the world must join forces to detect the sources of foreign cyberattacks aimed at impacting elections and prevent such intervention in the future, Israel Democracy Institute and Hebrew University researchers said Sunday. They spoke after Russian cyberattacks reportedly impacted elections in the US, France and Germany and in the British referendum on exiting the European Union. The researchers from IDI and the Law and Cyber Program at the Federman Center for Cyber Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem spoke at IDI on the subject of cyberattacks and foreign intervention in the April 9 election. They issued recommendations for implementing policies and regulating the chain of command between law enforcement agencies on this issue. The ability of hackers to attack has improved, and it is easier than ever for them to obtain their tools, which makes them even more dangerous,” said former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) technological division head Ron Shamir.

Full Article: Experts call for international cooperation against election cyber attacks - Israel News - Jerusalem Post.

Turkey: Questions over ‘voter aged 165’ and other irregularities | BBC

Political parties in Turkey are crying foul after thousands of unlikely voters appeared on the electoral roll. Among the oddities are many first-time voters over 100 years old – and one aged 165. Opposition parties also said they had discovered more than 1,000 voters registered at a single apartment. The discovery comes ahead of local elections in March, in which President Erdogan’s AK Party may face its toughest political challenge in years. Turkey has faced economic stagnation in recent months, and the value of its currency is significantly lower than it was a year ago. That has led to speculation that the dominant AKP could lose several key cities, including the capital, Ankara. Opposition parties now say that voter lists are being manipulated.

Full Article: Turkey elections: Questions over 'voter aged 165' and other irregularities - BBC News.

Israel: With elections approaching, is Israel prepared for foreign cyber threat? | JNS

As Israeli elections approach, the country’s cyber-security watchdogs are warning about attempts by foreign actors to disrupt and manipulate this essential democratic process. The issue came to the fore earlier in January, when the head of the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency, Nadav Argaman, reportedly told a closed-door conference that a “foreign state is planning to intervene in the elections. I don’t know at this stage in favor of whom or at whose detriment,” the intelligence chief said, adding, “I know what I’m talking about.” Thought Argaman did not mention it by name, Russia responded days later through a Kremlin spokesman, who stated that Moscow does not intervene in the elections of other countries and even advised others to refrain “from reading the Israeli media.”

Full Article: With elections approaching, is Israel prepared for foreign cyber threat? | JNS.org.

Algeria: Algeria to hold presidential election on April 18 | Al Jazeera

Algeria is set to hold the presidential election on April 18, the North African country’s presidency announced. It is unclear whether Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s frail 81-year-old president who has been in power since 1999, will stand for a fifth consecutive term. Djamel Ould Abbes, the former chief of the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN), was sacked in November, a month after he announced that Bouteflika would be the party’s candidate in the presidential poll. “Bouteflika… is the candidate of the FLN for the presidential election,” Ould Abbes was quoted as saying following a meeting with legislators from the party last year.

Full Article: Algeria to hold presidential election on April 18 | News | Al Jazeera.

Israel: Likud refuses to back rules to block online voter manipulation in elections | The Times of Israel

Days after it was revealed that the Shin Bet security agency has intelligence proving that a foreign country intends to influence the April election via online meddling, the Likud party said on Tuesday that it would block proposed measures to prevent such voter manipulation and similar attempts by Israeli internet operatives. Responding to a plea from the Central Elections Committee chairman, Supreme Court Judge Hanan Melcer, Likud party pushed back against all efforts to apply at least basic transparency standards on online campaigning. That rejection, charged an Israeli expert on internet legislation and election manipulation, appears to signal that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party plans to make use of dubious methods that gained prominence in the 2016 US presidential elections.

Full Article: Likud refuses to back rules to block online voter manipulation in elections | The Times of Israel.

Libya: Elections should be held even if draft constitution rejected-parliament chief | Reuters

Libya should press ahead with national elections even if voters reject a draft constitution in a planned referendum, the head of the country’s internationally recognised parliament said. The comments by Aguila Saleh could help assuage U.N. and Western concerns that the House of Representatives (HoR) might try to undermine efforts to organise elections to help end the years-long conflict in Libya. The United Nations and Western powers hope Libya will hold its national elections by June after holding a referendum on a constitutional framework to chart a way out of the conflict, which stems from the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Full Article: Libya should hold elections even if draft constitution rejected-parliament chief | Reuters.

Israel: Months before Shin Bet warning, Israeli cyber chief cautioned of election interferene | Haaretz

Israel’s National Cyber Directorate warned that cyber attacks could influence the outcome of the upcoming Israeli election last October, nearly three months prior to a similar statement made by the head of the Shin Bet security service. The threat is the stream of assaults on state facilities, Yigal Unna said at a conference on high tech at the Sha’arei Mishpat Academic Center of Law and Science in Hod Hasharon, which was also attended by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Israel Defense Forces’ outgoing Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.

Full Article: Months before Shin Bet warning, Israeli cyber chief cautioned of election interference - Israel Election 2019 - Haaretz.com.

Israel: Tel Aviv Spy Agency Claims Russia Trying To Interfere In Coming Israeli Elections | Eurasia Review

Despite Russia’s denial of any involvement in the upcoming Israeli elections, with a senior Moscow official saying that people should not read the Israeli media, intelligence sources in Tel Aviv announced there were several indications for such intervention, adding that Israel’s cyber army fended off several attacks. Director of the Shin Bet domestic security service Nadav Argaman discussed the issue, saying security forces were concerned about foreign interference that could affect the Knesset elections’ outcome. Speaking at a Friends of Tel Aviv University conference, Argaman said that a foreign country intended to launch cyber attacks in order to influence Israel’s general elections. The issue is considered an internal matter, however, several journalists attending the conference reported the news, which prompted the military censorship to issue an order banning the publication of Argaman’s statement. The military gag was later lifted when reporters threatened of filing a lawsuit, though the naming of the country in question is still prohibited.

Full Article: Tel Aviv Spy Agency Claims Russia Trying To Interfere In Coming Israeli Elections – Eurasia Review.

Israel: Admitting flaws, election committee ‘devising plan’ to thwart foreign meddling | The Times of Israel

Israel’s Central Elections Committee said Wednesday that it is devising a detailed plan of action to thwart attempts by foreign countries to meddle in the April 9 Knesset elections, following a reported alert from the head of the Shin Bet security agency that such attempts are being made by a country that cannot be named by orders from the military censor. “Together with security bodies, we learned what happened in other countries and we are devising a plan of action,” the body in charge of organizing the national ballot said in a statement. The statement came a day after reports that Shin Bet chief Nadav Argamon had warned a foreign state “intends to intervene” through cyberattacks in Israel’s elections. The name of the state was gagged by the military censor.

Full Article: Admitting flaws, election committee 'devising plan' to thwart foreign meddling | The Times of Israel.

Israel: Shin Bet says it can foil foreign election meddling amid scare | Associated Press

Israel’s Shin Bet security service assured the public Wednesday it was well prepared to thwart any foreign intervention in the country’s upcoming elections, after its director warned a world power was making such efforts. The statement followed reports that Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman recently told a closed audience that a foreign country was trying to intervene in the April elections and that operatives were trying to meddle via hackers and cyber technology. “The Shin Bet would like to make clear that the state of Israel and the intelligence community have the tools and capabilities to identify, monitor and thwart foreign influence efforts, should there be any,” it said. “The Israeli defense apparatus is able to guarantee democratic and free elections are held in Israel.” Argaman did not say for whose benefit the alleged meddling was being done. Initial reports about his comments were placed under a military gag order that was later lifted, though the naming of the country is question is still prohibited.

Full Article: Israel says it can foil foreign election meddling amid scare - ABC News.

Israel: The main cyber threats against Israel’s upcoming election | Haaretz

It’s Election Day April 9 and you’re told when you come to cast your ballot, “Sorry, you don’t appear on the voter rolls – you can’t vote.” Before that you’ve been deluged by text messages from a candidate, but they’ve been sent by his rivals in the hope you’ll protest the annoyance by voting against. The next day, the Central Elections Committee says it’s having trouble collecting the results. These things may not happen when Israelis go to the polls, but the odds are growing that at least some of them will. More than at any time in the past, Israel’s election system is exposed to a cybersecurity risk during the campaigning, including the process of vote counting. The Israeli cybersecurity company Check Point Software Technologies has crafted a study noting the likely threats based on the experience of other countries’ elections in recent years and suggests steps Israel can take to prevent them.

Full Article: The main cyber threats against Israel's upcoming election - Israel Election 2019 - Haaretz.com.

Afghanistan: Election set for April 20 amid Taliban talks with US | Al Jazeera

Afghanistan’s presidential election will take place next year on April 20 with results due by June, the electoral authority in the conflict-ridden country announced. The 12-day registration of presidential hopefuls will start next week, Gulajan Abdulbadi Sayad, head of the Independent Election Commission, told a news conference in the capital Kabul on Monday. “All necessary preparations and an action plan are in place. Soon the recruitment of staff for the presidential polls will also begin,” he said. He pledged the results of the April 20 presidential polls would be out by June.

Full Article: Afghan election set for April 20 amid Taliban talks with US | News | Al Jazeera.

Armenia: Premier’s bloc winning vote, early returns show | Associated Press

Early returns from Armenia’s snap parliamentary election Sunday show the country’s new prime minister’s bloc with a commanding lead — an outcome that would help further consolidate his power. The charismatic 43-year-old Nikol Pashinian took office in May after spearheading massive protests that forced his predecessor to step down. Pashinian has pushed for early vote to win control of a parliament that was dominated by his political foes. An ex-journalist turned politician, Pashinian has won broad popularity, tapping into public anger over widespread poverty, high unemployment and rampant corruption in the landlocked former Soviet nation of 3 million that borders Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran.

Full Article: Armenia premier's bloc winning vote, early returns show.

Armenia: Reformist PM Nikol Pashinian wins convincing victory | The Guardian

Armenia’s acting prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, has bolstered his authority after his political bloc won early parliamentary elections in the former Soviet country, the Central Election Commission’s (CEC) results showed. My Step Alliance, which includes Pashinyan’s Civil Contract Party, won 70.4% of the vote on Sunday based on results from all polling stations, the CEC said on its website. Results showed that two moderate opposition parties – Prosperous Armenia and Bright Armenia – got enough votes to clear the 5% threshold to enter parliament.

Full Article: Armenia election: reformist PM Nikol Pashinian wins convincing victory | World news | The Guardian.

Afghanistan: Election Dispute Brews as U.S. Pushes for Peace Talks | The New York Times

An election complaints agency on Thursday invalidated all of the votes cast in Kabul Province in October’s parliamentary election, more than a million in all, over fraud allegations, pushing the country toward another political crisis just as a top American diplomat arrived to build momentum for peace talks with the Taliban. The ruling set up a stalemate with the agency administering the vote, the Independent Election Commission. The commission said it would ignore the decision invalidating the votes — which would ordinarily require a new election within seven days — and would certify the results of Kabul’s vote in the coming days. It was unclear how the dispute would be resolved. The complaints agency did not describe the fraud accusations in detail, but it called for the firing of several Independent Election Commission staff members.

Full Article: Afghan Election Dispute Brews as U.S. Pushes for Peace Talks - The New York Times.

Libya: Election commission says has zero budget to prepare polls | Reuters

Libya’s electoral commission has asked the government for $28.7 million, saying that without funding to boost its “zero” budget it cannot make plans to prepare for a vote on a new constitution and later elections. Western powers and the United Nations hope Libya will hold a national election by June after a referendum on a constitutional framework to chart a way out of a conflict stemming from the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. A French plan, backed by the United Nations, had initially called for a presidential and parliamentary vote on Dec 10. But weeks of fighting in the capital Tripoli between competing groups and almost no progress between the North African country’s two rival parliaments made that impossible.

Full Article: Libyan election commission says has zero budget to prepare polls | Reuters.

Bahrain: Record number of Bahraini women elected to parliament | Al Jazeera

A record number of women have been elected in Bahrain’s elections in what officials say is an historic achievement that has broken the glass ceiling of representation in the country’s parliament. By the election’s second and final round of voting on Sunday, a total of six women were voted in, doubling the number of female legislators in the tiny Gulf kingdom. “The 2018 elections are historic for Bahrain,” Mohammed al-Sayed, spokesperson for Citizens for Bahrain organisation, told Al Arabiya English news channel. “We will certainly have more women in parliament, and this is a source of pride for all Bahrainis as we believe in equality and the important role played by Bahraini women in society and politics,” he continued.

Full Article: Record number of Bahraini women elected to parliament | Elections 2018 News | Al Jazeera.

Bahrain: Elections go to runoffs | Ahram Online

Bahraini authorities announced the results of last week’s parliamentary and local council elections, despite calls by the opposition to boycott and government insistence there was high voter turnout.
Minister of Justice, Islamic Affairs, Religious Endowments and Chairman of the National Elections Committee (NEC) Khaled bin Ali Al-Khalifa announced the election results on Monday, the fifth round of elections since constitutional reform in 2002. Al-Khalifa told a news conference that voter turnout reached 70 per cent, which is close to local and international media reports quoting Bahraini officials indicating 67 per cent turnout.

Full Article: Bahrain: Elections go to runoffs - Region - World - Ahram Online.

Afghanistan: Election to be held on time | AFP

Afghanistan s election organisers vowed Tuesday to hold April s presidential poll on time, after fears it could be delayed as they struggle to compile results of the recent legislative vote amid thousands of complaints. The remarks come as the United States, in a bid to end the 17-year war, spearheads international efforts to engage the Taliban in peace talks that some had feared could be derailed by the April 20 presidential election, which is expected to fiercely contested. On Monday, spokesmen for the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) told reporters they were looking at pushing the ballot back to July 13. IEC chief Abdul Badi Sayyad said “economic, security and weather situations are forcing us to make some changes to the timeline”. But on Tuesday, officials decided not to delay, releasing a statement on the IEC Facebook page saying the vote would be held April 20 “on the demand of the people and parties”.

Full Article: Afghanistan election to be held on time - World - Dunya News.