There was a low turnout in most polling stations in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo. At the various polling stations that Studio 7 visited, there were few voters who were coming to cast their ballots after long intervals. At Stanley Hall in the Makokoba constituency, some residents in the surrounding area were going about their daily business, with some women and children fetching water from a bowser just outside a local polling station. At other polling stations, including Mpopoma High School in the Mpopoma/Pelandaba constituency and Pumula Community Hall in the Pumula constituency, the turn-out was equally low. By lunch time, nearly 140 people had cast their ballots at the Pumula Community Hall, with 31 having been turned away for various reasons.
Myanmar’s election commission has scrapped by-elections scheduled for November to enable political parties to concentrate on the crucial 2015 general elections — a move welcomed by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). Tin Aye, chairman of the Union Election Commission, told representatives from more than 30 political parties at a meeting in Yangon on Sunday that it was cancelling the by-elections to fill 35 vacant seats, citing logistical and other reasons. He said that the move would not only allow political parties to concentrate on the general elections next year but also avoid a clash of events as Myanmar, which is currently chairing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is scheduled to host a high-profile regional meeting around the same time.
Myanmar’s election commission scrapped November by-elections in 35 parliamentary seats, citing the pressure of hosting an upcoming regional summit and extra costs ahead of a nationwide poll in 2015. The Union Election Commission made the surprise announcement after a meeting with more than 30 political parties in Yangon. Explaining the decision, deputy director of the commission Hla Maung Cho said the number of lawmakers who would have been returned to parliament in the by-elections “will not make a big difference” to voting. He cited Myanmar’s chairing of the Asean summit in November and the high cost of contesting polls for smaller political parties that were also planning their campaigns for the nationwide vote slated for November next year.
The Solomon Islands Electoral Commission has warned contesting candidates to be vigilant and to make sure their act of campaigning is legitimate. “Elections have laws that guide candidates, officials and voters and the general public and individuals that are in breached of these laws or electoral offenses face their penalties when found guilty in court. There are several election petitions court cases that have been filed in the past against winning candidates and officials and have resulted in some candidates loosing their parliamentary seats,” Mr Polycap Haununu.
United Kingdom: UK Recall Election Plans Too Weak And Should Be Abandoned, Say MPs | Huffington Post UK
The government should abandon its plan to allow voters to sack MPs mid-term, a Commons committee has said. In a report published on Thursday the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee said the proposed powers of recall were so weak that they could actually reduce the public’s confidence in politics. In December last year the government published a draft Bill that proposed that MPs found guilty of “serious wrongdoing” could be being kicked out of parliament if 10% of voters in a constituency signed a petition against them. But under the plans a petition could only be held if they were first censured by a vote in the House of Commons and could not be triggered by voters themselves. A by-election would also automatically take place if an MP was convicted of a criminal offence and was sentenced to less than a year in prison.
Political parties and influential local figures are busy announcing candidate lists and convincing independent candidates to withdraw in time for this weekend’s municipal by-elections to allow candidate tickets to win unopposed. The last-minute negotiations continued to bear fruit, as a village in Batroun became the latest to see its polls cancelled Sunday because of last-minute withdrawals. In Yater in Bint Jbeil, Hezbollah and Amal are trying to convince independent candidates to drop out, to prevent a repeat of the tension that resulted during the last round in 2010, when party supporters failed to adhere to the Amal-Hezbollah ticket, allowing a number of independent candidates to win office. The deal for Sunday’s poll involves nine seats on the parties’ list going to Amal and the other six to Hezbollah, with Amal receiving the mayor’s post and Hezbollah the deputy mayor’s. During the earlier round, 11 Hezbollah members won office, along with four from the rival ticket.
United Kingdom: Welsh voters could be given right to recall AMs and force by-elections | WalesOnline
Welsh voters could gain the right to recall their AMs who are guilty of crimes and force a by-election, according to the leader of the House of Commons. Sir George Young has confirmed that the UK Government will consider extending legislation, which would give citizens the power to recall MPs, to cover members of the National Assembly and the other devolved bodies. Under the proposals, a by-election will be held if at least 10% of people on a constituency’s electoral register sign a recall petition. However, petitions will only be triggered under two strictly defined situations where an MP is convicted in the United Kingdom of an offence and receives a custodial sentence of 12 months or less or when the House of Commons resolves that an MP should be recalled.
MPs should not be stripped of their seats for political reasons or “laziness” under plans for “recall” elections, Nick Clegg has said. MPs accused of serious wrongdoing could be forced to stand down and face a by-election if enough voters demand it. But the deputy PM said “recall” must be “a backstop sanction rather than something that would be used – or abused – for political purposes”. He told a committee of MPs he did not want it to become a “kangaroo court”. Proposals to introduce recall elections were drawn up by all three main parties at Westminster in the wake of the the 2009 expenses scandal. But political and constitutional reform committee chairman, Labour MP Graham Allen, said the idea, contained in a draft bill, was unpopular with MPs who believed Mr Clegg was “fighting yesterday’s battle”.
A new government in the Maldives has won two by-elections, according to results on Sunday, defeating the party of former President Mohamed Nasheed who was unseated in February and, his party said, bolstering its call for an early presidential poll. The ouster of Nasheed, the islands’ first democratically elected president, dented the Indian Ocean archipelago’s reputation as a laid-back luxury tourist paradise. Nasheed and his party say the new government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik is illegitimate and they have been demanding an early presidential election.
Myanmar’s ruling party, which was founded and backed by the country’s former military junta rulers, yesterday complained that there were voting irregularities in last weekend’s by-election, which saw them soundly beaten by the country’s leading dissident, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, and her party. Last Sunday’s landmark by-election brought the charismatic Nobel Peace Prize laureate and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party into office for the first time when they won 43 of the 45 seats up for grabs. The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) – which is comprised of many of the same former generals who seized power in 1988 and kept Ms Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 years – won the one seat not contested by the NLD in the by-election.
Burma’s election officials have confirmed that democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s party has won a landslide victory in Sunday’s by-elections. The Union Election Commission (UEC) announced that 40 of the 45 available seats have been taken by Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy (NLD). The remaining five seats are yet to be counted. The NLD’s own count has estimated a victory in all 44 seats the party contested. It failed to contest the final seat as its candidate was disqualified.
With a high turnout expected on April 1 and the government and election commission promising a free, fair and transparent poll, experts have urged voters to take greater care when casting their vote than in 2010, when large numbers were declared invalid. The number of lost or cancelled ballots ranged from 6.43pc for Amyotha Hluttaw constituencies to 7.4pc for State or Region Hluttaw constituencies, according to official figures. This was significantly lower than in 1990, when 12.3pc of votes were declared ineligible, but varied widely between constituencies; in the Pyithu Hluttaw seat of Hpakant, for example, 13,255 of 70,297 votes were invalid. “People are more interested in the April 1 by-elections than the previous election because NLD will be contesting most constituencies,” said Ko Nay Zaw Than, a businessman from Lanmadaw township who closely follows politics. “But it is important when voting that people fill out their forms correctly and also choose the best person to represent them, instead of focusing on a personality or party.”
Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has spoken of irregularities ahead of Sunday’s by-election. Speaking ahead of the 1 April vote, she said the election campaign could not be considered ”genuinely free and fair”. But the Nobel laureate said she was ”determined to go forward” and did not regret taking part in the poll. The National League for Democracy (NLD) party head is expected to win her seat in Kawhmu, south-west of Rangoon. In a press conference, Aung San Suu Kyi said the irregularities went “beyond what is acceptable for democratic elections”.
Myanmar’s Election Commission on Monday gave opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi the green light to run for parliamentary by-elections, another step toward political openness in a country emerging from nearly a half-century of iron-fisted military rule. Suu Kyi announced her intention last month to run in the April elections but was waiting for official approval from the commission, which said it had to scrutinize her eligibility. A spokesman for Suu Kyi’s party said the commission approved her candidacy and would make a formal announcement later Monday. “There is no objection to her nomination and we can say that her candidacy is officially accepted,” Nyan Win said.
A US delegation fronted by Sen. John McCain and Sen. Joseph Lieberman will request that the Burmese government allow international observers to oversee April by-elections, which, if deemed free and fair, will almost certainly see the US remove some sanctions on the Burmese government. “Obviously we will have to look carefully at the process of the elections,” said McCain, who conceded that Burma’s reforms in recent months—including the release of several hundred political prisoners—are “a dramatic change in policy and behaviour in as short a time as a year ago,” he said. McCain confirmed that the delegation, which arrived in Burma on Sunday, would ask Burma’s government to allow international observation of the April by-elections, in response to a question about the issue from this correspondent.
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi confirmed that she will run for a seat in parliament, her party said Tuesday, a move that will infuse April by-elections with legitimacy, star power and historic significance. Suu Kyi said last year that she would run for parliament but had appeared to backtrack since then. A victory would give the Nobel Peace Prize winner and longtime political prisoner a voice in parliament for the first time in her decades-long role as the country’s opposition leader.
Myanmar’s election commission has given the green signal to the country’s main Opposition party to contest upcoming by-elections. A month after National League for Democracy (NLD) decided to rejoin national politics, its leader Aung San Suu Kyi and 20 other members applied for the party’s registration to the Union Election Commission on December 23.
NLD spokesman Nyan Win told media on Thursday that it got the approval of the Election Commission, and registered to participate in the April by-elections. Suu Kyi, who earlier said the party would contest all the 48 seats to which by-elections are held, in which she also would be a candidate, has not yet officially announced her decision. In an interview to BBC on Thursday, the Nobel laureate said she was optimistic Burma would hold “full democratic elections” in her lifetime.
Myanmar: Myanmar opposition leader Suu Kyi’s party registers to re-enter mainstream politics | The Washington Post
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi formally registered her party Friday for any upcoming elections, returning the Nobel laureate to the political arena and winning plaudits from her political rivals in Myanmar’s military-dominated parliament.
Suu Kyi decided last month to formally rejoin politics after recent reforms by the nominally civilian administration that took power this year. Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy leader Tin Oo and other party members registered the party at the Union Election Commission in the capital, Naypyitaw.
The party boycotted last year’s general elections because of restrictive rules that among other things prevented Suu Kyi from being a candidate. The government has since lifted many of those restrictions. The government had taken the NLD off the list of legally recognized political parties because of the boycott.
The Democratic Party has revealed plans to sue the Electoral Commission for delaying the swearing in of Brenda Nabukenya as the Woman Member of Parliament for Luwero district.
Speaking to journalists in Kampala today, the DP General Secretary Mathias Nsubuga said that they had given the EC up to today the 29th of November to have sent Nabukenya’s name in parliament for swearing in but the commission has not complied.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has said ballot papers for the three November 24 Parliamentary by-elections will be printed by the traditional printers, Universal Printing Group (UPG) in Durban, South Africa. ECZ public relations manager Cris Akufuna said officials from the commission would soon leave for South Africa in readiness for the printing. Mr Akufuna said in Chongwe yesterday that the costing for the whole exercise would soon be consolidated now that nomination papers had been filed.
President Michael Sata recently said that this would be the last time Zambia would print ballot papers outside the country, as the task would be undertaken by Government Printers after it has been fully equipped. The by-elections are slated for Chongwe, Magoye and Nakonde constituencies.
Ireland: Nulty victory in Dublin by-election inevitable despite Socialists demanding recount | The Post
Labour’s Patrick Nulty emerged victorious in Dublin West’s by-election, but not before his socialist comrades demanded a recount to determine whether their candidate would come second or third. From the earliest tallies, Nulty’s success was never in doubt in the counting room on the first floor of the Citywest Convention Centre. At the same time, below on the ground floor, the party’s presidential candidate Michael D Higgins also won the lion’s share of number ones.
But despite Labour’s dual success, a good deal of the talk at the Saggart venue centred on the poor voting performance of Fine Gael’s Eithne Loftus and the unexpected success of Fianna Fáil’s David McGuinness, both Fingal county councillors.
Ten by-election candidates in Bahrain have received threats from anonymous election boycotters, according to human rights group here. The Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society said that candidates received threats through emails, text messages and mails demanding them to withdraw from election.
Six opposition societies, including Al Wefaq National Islamic Society have decided to boycott election, while there is also a media campaign ‘0%’ launched recently through social media calling upon people in Bahrain to keep the voting boxes empty by not casting their votes.
By-elections in Kenya come and go, but few command attention in the form of drama or uniqueness. Among the few was the one held in Kamukunji constituency last Thursday. The turn-out was only 30 per cent of the registered voters.
Kamukunji is a special constituency that has, over time, acquired the status of a political shrine thereby giving the name Kamkunji to have extra political meanings. It is symbolic of struggles as well as a political weathervane. In colonial days, it acquired a reputation as the place where Africans could hold rallies, mostly political, because there were no other venues available for “natives”. It was an open field, surrounded by heavily crowded “African quarters” such as Shauri Moyo, Kaloleni, Muthurwa, Majengo and Gorofani.
Kitutu Masaba Member of Parliament Walter Nyambati (National Labour Party) has lost a petition filed against his 2007 poll win, joining a long list of MPs whose election have been nullified by the High Court. Kisii Resident Judge Milton Makhandia who delivered the ruling on Friday said the MP was elected irregularly.
Mr Nyambati’s election was challenged by Justus Omiti who had also sued a Returning Officer of the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya and the Interim Independent Electoral Commission. In issuing the ruling, the judge said the petitioner had proved beyond reasonable doubt that there were irregularities in the polls. Mr Nyambati becomes the eleventh MP in the current Parliament to lose an election petition.
The grand jury report on the Saguache County 2010 General Election was released Tuesday afternoon by the State Attorney General’s Office but no indictments were returned in the investigation.
The report relates that Saguache County Clerk Melinda Myers did admit during her testimony that she failed to follow the Secretary of State (SOS) rules during the election.
In commentary submitted to the grand jury following its decision, Myers stated that she was “encouraged to see the conclusions so well explained and hope that we can finally put this election to rest.”
Pakistan: Election Commission impasse: Pakistan Government to introduce 20th amendment | The Express Tribune
The government announced on Sunday that it would introduce the 20th amendment to the constitution, in a bid to pre-empt a likely Supreme Court decision to disqualify 26 lawmakers for having been elected through by-elections that were held without a fully constituted Election Commission of Pakistan.
The move is likely to trigger fresh concerns about the priorities of the government at a time when the country is facing severe security and economic challenges. The Pakistan Peoples Party-led coalition is bleeding political capital even as the opposition Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz is actively campaigning against what it describes as the government’s failures.