Using a combination of diplomacy and muscle, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) forced longtime Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to cede power this month to challenger Adama Barrow, who won the nation’s general election. Neighboring Senegal amassed troops and threatened to remove Jammeh by force. Regional powerhouse Nigeria threatened to help. The presidents of Mauritania and Guinea conducted shuttle diplomacy between Gambia’s capital of Banjul and Senegal, where Barrow had fled. Jammeh finally agreed to go into exile on January 20. Despite the successful outcome, some question the wisdom of ECOWAS intervening on behalf of the people of the Gambia.
Ivory Coast’s election commission is expected to announce Tuesday the first results from an election that was widely expected to give President Alassane Ouattara another term in office. The commission has already estimated turnout from Sunday’s vote at around 60 percent, though a civil society group put the figure at 53 percent. The opposition National Coalition for Change expressed further doubts about the turnout, saying many Ivorians stayed home and fewer than 20 percent actually voted.
New and more inclusive elections in November have been proposed as military leaders said the general behind the coup will lead the country during the transitional period. The proposed plan will be taken up Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria, by West African member states of the regional bloc known as Ecowas. The announcement by Senegal’s President Macky Sall comes after a day fraught with tensions that began with an attack by pro-coup demonstrators and elite presidential guard soldiers on the hotel hosting the talks. Earlier in the day, angry protesters had clashed outside the hotel where negotiations were taking place, with some shouting: “No to Diendere! No to military rule!”
Mediators in Burkina Faso’s political crisis proposed new and more inclusive elections in November, though the military that seized power in a coup last week indicated Sunday it still wants its general to lead the country during any transitional period. That could prove to be a serious sticking point after a draft agreement was released late Sunday following two days of talks led by the presidents of Senegal and Benin. The proposed plan will be taken up Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria, by West African member states of the regional bloc known as ECOWAS. Senegalese President Macky Sall, who helped lead the weekend talks, said the draft was the result of discussions with all parties. “We have two ways out here: The first one is through peace…that will lead to an end of the crisis through fair and democratic elections,” Mr. Sall said, adding that the other route would lead to “chaos.”
Prior to earlier concerns of a bloated electoral register, Major Stakeholders in Togo’s elections say they are satisfied with the cleaning process and are ready to go to the Polls on Saturday April 25. They expressed the satisfaction when ECOWAS Chair President John Mahama, met with them in a follow up visit to ascertain their level of preparedness.
All of Togo’s presidential candidates have agreed on an updated but still “imperfect” voter roll, removing an obstacle that had forced a delay in the election that will now take place on April 25, election officials said on Wednesday. “The current state of the election list is good enough for the 2015 vote,” said Siaka Sangare, a Malian former general working for the International Organization of la Francophonie (OIF). The French-speaking nations group has worked with election organizers to address opposition complaints that election lists included numerous duplicates, potentially favoring President Faure Gnassingbe.
Observers from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS on Monday said Guinea-Bissau’s weekend election was free and fair, and called on international donors to restart cooperation suspended in the wake of a 2012 coup. Bissau-Guineans flocked to the polls in large numbers on Sunday to vote in long-delayed legislative and presidential polls meant to bring stability to the former Portuguese colony after years of putsches and political infighting. No elected president has completed a five-year term in Guinea-Bissau, which has become a major transit point for smugglers ferrying Latin American cocaine to Europe. “The election was conducted according to international standards and the election was peaceful, free, fair and transparent,” the ECOWAS observer mission said in a statement.
The observer mission of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS has said Sunday’s legislative election in Mali met ‘globally-acceptable standards’. “The shortcomings observed did not in any significant way affect the conduct of the election in line with globally acceptable standards. Though not intended, the disenfranchisement of some young voters and some electorate in the insecure north, as well as the low turn-out in the elections, are regrettable,” the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission said in a preliminary declaration made available to PANA here Tuesday by the ECOWAS Commission. The 100-member mission, led by Prof. Amos Sawyer, former President of Liberia’s Government of National Unity, noted that the processes and conduct of stakeholders on Election Day showed “a marked improvement” over the Presidential elections of July/August, including the timely arrival of electoral officials, early delivery of essential materials and the orderly conduct of voters.
Togo’s main opposition on Monday rejected provisional electoral results showing the ruling party winning two-thirds of parliamentary seats, allowing the president’s family to maintain its decades-long grip on power. The main opposition coalition, Let’s Save Togo, had alleged irregularities even before full results in Togo’s parliamentary elections were announced by the electoral commission on Sunday night. Agbeyome Kodjo, a key figure in Let’s Save Togo, on Monday called the vote and results a “sham”. “It’s an electoral sham amid massive corruption and proven electoral fraud,” Kodjo, a former prime minister whose OBUTS party joined with Let’s Save Togo for the elections, told AFP. The West African nation’s constitutional court must still approve the results from Thursday’s election before they become final.
The small West African nation of Togo is holding legislative elections on Thursday amid signs voters are increasingly fed up with the ruling party. Analysts say in order to win, though, the opposition will have to overcome its own divisions, as well as an electoral system vulnerable to fraud. Negotiations over how the election would be run continued until just a few weeks ago, and major opposition parties refused to confirm until recently that they would participate. On Tuesday, the final day of campaigning, however, all the major parties staged rallies in Togo’s capital, Lome, expressing confidence about their chances.
West African leaders have called for $25 million in international aid to help secure the upcoming elections in Mali. As Guinea-Bissau also prepares for elections, leaders want an end to international sanctions on that country. Heads of state from the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, are meeting this week in the Nigerian capital ahead of elections in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, two countries in turmoil. After the French-led invasion of northern Mali in January that wrested territories away from Islamist militant groups, nationwide presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for July 28.
A senior United Nations envoy says major reforms are necessary in Guinea-Bissau for elections due in November to be seen as free and fair. Among the reforms are steps toward providing justice for recent high-profile political killings. Guinea-Bissau has suffered from chronic instability since obtaining independence from Portugal in 1974. Its most recent coup occurred last year, when the army took control of the country in the middle of an election cycle. Transitional authorities announced in June that presidential and legislative elections would be held on November 24. This week, the country received representatives from a host of international organizations, including the African Union, the West African regional bloc ECOWAS and the European Union. El-Ghassim Wane, the director of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, says the international community is committed to seeing a successful vote.
West African leaders decided to send troops to coup-hit Mali and Guinea-Bissau to support their return to civilian rule and demanded coup leaders “return to barracks” in both countries. At an extraordinary summit in Ivory Coast, the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also said the two countries must prepare for legislative and presidential elections within a year. Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, current head of ECOWAS, pledged a firm response to the instability “to prevent our sub-region from giving into terrorism and transnational criminality”. “The safety of Europe and of the United States now starts in the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea,” Ouattara said.
Guinea-Bissau’s junta has named a failed presidential candidate to govern the country for two years. The United Nations has condemned the move in West Africa’s narcotics hub. The naming of Manuel Serifo Nhamajo, the former speaker of parliament, to head an interim government was made jointly late Thursday by the military – whose coup last week preempted a presidential election runoff – and Guinea-Bissau’s main opposition, the Party for Social Renewal. Nhamajo’s nomination was immediately rejected by the ousted governing party, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). Its secretary general, Luis Olivares, described the appointment as “unconstitutional.”
Intense negotiations at two Bamako institutions have yielded a settlement in recent days to Mali’s political crisis. But do Malians believe their incoming interim president, Dioncounda Traore, can put their country back on track? A line of black Mercedes cars snakes outside a luxury hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako while inside the air-conditioned lobby clutches of military-men in camouflage uniforms huddle in discreet corners, holding hushed conversations with ascending ranks of African diplomats. Discussions done, the dignitaries and military deputies march tight-lipped to their waiting cars before they’re off in a convoy of screeching sirens, to a military base on the outskirts of Bamako. The political action in this West African capital is moving at a rapid clip these days, after diplomats from the regional West African ECOWAS bloc negotiated a power handover deal with Mali’s military coup leaders last week.
Guinea-Bissau: Security Council Urges Political Parties to Engage in Dialogue Ahead of Run-Off Election | allAfrica.com
The Security Council today urged political parties in Guinea-Bissau to engage in dialogue ahead of the upcoming run-off elections next month to ensure a peaceful conclusion to the electoral process that started in January, and to be able to maintain unity and stability in the country. “The members of the Security Council called upon all political leaders and their supporters to exercise restraint and to refrain from any action that could hamper the electoral process,” said Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant of the United Kingdom, which holds the Council’s presidency this month, in a press statement. The West African nation is undergoing a political transition as a result of the death of President Malam Bacai Sanhá in January, which prompted early elections – the first round of which were held on 18 March. A run-off is now scheduled for 22 April between former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior and ex-president Kumba Yala.
Mali’s coup leaders announced a new constitution including a pledge to allow elections in which they would be barred from standing, even as several thousand supporters rallied in the streets of the capital Bamako on Wednesday. The charter, which did not specify when the elections would be held, came hours after West Africa’s ECOWAS bloc threatened sanctions and the use of military force to reverse last week’s coup that ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure. “Anyone who was a member of the CNRDRE or the government cannot be a candidate in the elections,” the new constitution, read out on state television, said of the junta, known as the National Committee for the Return of Democracy and the Restoration of the State.
The United Nations Integrated Peace-Building Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) said it’s pleased with the peaceful conduct of Sunday’s presidential election in the West African nation. Citizens voted to elect a new president, who will succeed Malam Bacai Sanha who died in January.
UNIOGBIS spokesman Vladimir Monteiro said the electoral commission is constitutionally mandated to announce the final outcome of the vote within 10 days of the election. “The election was held in a very peaceful manner,” said Monteiro. “In the morning, participation was relatively weak but, all day long, leaders of the electoral body encouraged the people to go and vote, and it seems that people listened and went to vote because the participation finally increased.” Several international organizations, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, called Bissau Guineans to peacefully vote in Sunday’s presidential election.
The leader of Gambia’s main opposition United Democratic Party said his and five other parties plan to boycott the country’s March 29th legislative election unless the Independent Election Commission [IEC] can assure them of a level playing field. Ousainou Darboe’s comments came as other opposition leaders in The Gambia have asked the Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] to arbitrate the dispute ahead of the election. Darboe said the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction Party of President Yahya Jammeh is also abusing the power of incumbency in order to tilt the election results in its favor. “I have joined with other opposition parties in the country not to participate in the upcoming National Assembly election. This due is to the fact that the IEC has rejected our demand for a postponement of the election so as to enable a level playing field being created, which would allow for a free, fair and transparent election,” he said.
The chairman of Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission is sharply denying reports conditions on the ground are not conducive to ensure today’s (Thursday) presidential election is transparent, free and fair. Mustapha Carayol says “it is impossible to rig elections in Gambia” despite opposition and international observer group claims that the vote will not be credible.
Polling stations in the 48 constituencies are scheduled to open at 7:00 am and close at 4:00pm local time. Carol predicts Gambians will learn the outcome of the presidential vote by 6:00 am, Friday.
The president of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says his organization will send a larger delegation to monitor Liberia’s November 8 presidential run-off. The sub-regional bloc deployed over 150 poll observers across Liberia to monitor the first round of the October 11 presidential and legislative elections.
“We have a mandate from a protocol on democracy and good governance…that expects us to observe all presidential elections,” said Ambassador James Victor Gbeho. “[For] the second round, which is even more important, we might field an even bigger number to make sure that our observation is flawless. And also to make sure that we are in a position to certify whether that election or the run-off will be free fair and credible.” He warned that ECOWAS has no tolerance for some candidates, who he said create problems after losing a vote. ECOWAS judged the first round to be free fair and transparent.
The leader of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) poll observer team says Liberia’s electoral body seems to have adequately prepared for today’s (Tuesday’s) vote. Attahiru Jega, who is also chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says the regional bloc has deployed about 150 observers to monitor Liberia’s presidential and legislative elections.
“Our mandate is to witness the elections and to be able to report on the extent of it being free, fair and credible,” said Jega. “We have a range of experienced personalities from all over the West African sub-region as observers in this team…It’s a very well composed team of experts, of people who have been concerned with issues of democratization and elections.” He adds that his team will also ensure that the polls will be well organized “in accordance with established international standards.”