On Saturday (March 28, 2015), Nigerians will once again troop to the polls to choose who among the several contestants vigorously campaigning and scheming out there would be their president and members of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next four years. In several other countries, including even some of our smaller and leanly-endowed neighbours here, election periods usually provide the populace pleasant opportunities to savour the excitement of democracy. People go to the polls with beaming faces exchanging pleasantries and banters while waiting to cast their votes. They are not gripped by any benumbing fear that some daredevil thugs might swoop on the voting centres to shoot into the air, snatch away ballot boxes, and, possibly, wound or even kill some people in the process. Even the contestants would just come to the voting centres with little or no security and without any fanfare, unobtrusively cast their votes like every other person. And as they return to their homes, they are not looking over their shoulders to see if some killers hired by their opponents are trailing them to eliminate them.
Guinea’s opposition withdrew its lawmakers from parliament Wednesday and said it would no longer recognise the election commission in protest over the timetable for presidential elections. The vote is due to be held in the Ebola-hit nation on October 11, the commission said last week, following doubts over its timing. “We decided yesterday… to suspend our participation in the work of the National Assembly and withdraw our 49 lawmakers until further notice and no longer recognise the national independent election commission,” said opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo. The opposition has accused President Alpha Conde of using the Ebola epidemic as an excuse to postpone elections and of refusing to enter into a dialogue over the timetable. More than 10,000 people have died of Ebola, almost all in west Africa, since it emerged in Guinea in December 2013.
A much-postponed election for half the seats in Ebola-hit Liberia’s Senate has been put back until the weekend — but cannot be further delayed, the country’s electoral commission said Monday. The vote for 15 seats in the upper house of parliament has been postponed twice already as the epidemic ravaged the impoverished west African nation.The National Elections Commission (NEC) said the poll will now be held on December 20. Football star George Weah — who played for Chelsea and AC Milan before retiring from the game in 2003 — and the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Robert Sirleaf, are among the 139 candidates in the running for a seat.
Officials in Ebola-stricken Liberia have postponed senatorial elections elections until the end of the week, while some urged calling off the vote for fear the results would not be credible. Ebola has killed nearly 3,200 people this year in Liberia, and many question whether elections can be held at all under such circumstances. The elections, first scheduled in October, were supposed to be held Monday, but have been moved back to Saturday. It was not immediately clear whether the extra days would be sufficient delay to address the logistical problems posed by Ebola.
The deadly Ebola virus continues to elude control in Liberia, with the outbreak retreating in some regions and popping up in others. And now, with Liberian Senate elections tentatively slated for next week, a debate is raging about whether it is safe to hold a vote. “People are going to march into the same polling booth, and touch the same pens, possibly,” says New York Times correspondent Sheri Fink, who has spent much of the last two months in Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone. “How do you protect people in that case?” Liberia’s Senate election was originally slated for October 14, but was moved to December 16. The country’s Supreme Court is considering petitions filed by civil society groups who would like to see a further postponement. But most Liberian political parties are pushing for a vote. The court’s ruling is expected on Friday.
At long last the Supreme Court of Liberia Monday conducted hearing into the much awaited writ of prohibition filed before the court to halt the pending Senatorial election, but the fate of the election hangs as the court failed to state when the next hearing is expected to take place. The writ of prohibition was filed by several political parties and eminent Liberians at the Supreme Court against the National Elections Commission (NEC) calling for a halt to the December 16, 2014 Senatorial election due to the outbreak of the Ebola Virus in the country, coupled with constitutional violations. Last week it was widely speculated that the high court was to hear the writ of prohibition that led to the current stay order placed on the December 16, 2014 senatorial election, but the hearing failed as Chief Justice Francis Korkpor announced in open court that there was no hearing assigned by the high court on the matter. Monday’s hearing at the Chamber of Supreme Court, which lasted for nearly nine-hours was witnessed by several Liberians from various backgrounds including ordinary citizens as lawmakers with vested interest in the outcome of the writ also turned out.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Thursday banned all rallies and other mass gatherings in Monrovia before the senatorial election scheduled in less than two weeks, asserting that they risked worsening the spread of the Ebola outbreak. The president’s order also extended the ban to 30 days after the election. The order came just as Liberia appears to have made progress in slowing the disease, which has also severely afflicted neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, and has spread to Mali.
Despite the deadly Ebola outbreak, Liberia began campaign activities for the Special Senatorial Election, which will see 15 members of the senate elected in December. The National Elections commission said it would go ahead and conduct the election on December 16, 2014. “In keeping with the revised timeline for the 2014 Special Senatorial Election, the Commission is pleased to announce that political campaigns will commence on Thursday, November 20, 2014 and end 24 hours before Polling Day,” said Jerome Korkoya, chairman of the election commission. Supporters of former soccer star George Weah and Robert Sirleaf, the son of Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and a former head of the National Oil Company, turned out in their numbers to begin the campaign on Thursday in Monrovia. The President’s son will face Wiah in the race for senator of Montserrado County, in which Liberia’s capital is situated. Political rallies kicked off amid the sound of ambulances plying the streets, taking sick people to Ebola Treatment Units across the country.