The main opposition coalition in Togo said on Monday it will boycott December 20 general elections and call for further protests over what it alleged was a “fraudulent” poll. “We’re not going to give our blessing to this masquerade being prepared,” a co-ordinator in the coalition, Brigitte Adjamagbo-Johnson, told local radio. Togo’s Constitutional Court has validated ballots for 12 parties – but not any for the 14-party opposition coalition that has staged protests in the former French colony over the past year. Ballots for 17 independent candidates have also been approved.
Bahrain’s main opposition group called Tuesday for a boycott of November parliamentary elections after its members were banned from running. The vote follows waves of unrest since 2011, when security forces in the Sunni-ruled Gulf state crushed protests led by its Shiite majority demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister. Authorities have imprisoned hundreds of dissidents, stripped many of their nationality and outlawed opposition movements including Al-Wefaq, the main movement representing the kingdom’s Shiite majority.
President Gjorge Ivanov has called for voters to boycott an upcoming referendum on Macedonia’s name change, saying the country was being asked to commit “historical suicide.” “Voting in a referendum is a right, not an obligation,” Ivanov said on September 27 in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly. Macedonians are due to go to the polls on September 30 to vote on an agreement its new Socialist government led by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev reached with Greece this year to change the country’s name to North Macedonia. The name dispute between Skopje and Athens dates back to 1991, when Macedonia peacefully broke away from Yugoslavia, declaring its independence under the name Republic of Macedonia.
On the streets of Phnom Penh, everyone is asking the same question: did you or didn’t you vote? But the answer is obvious. Those who voted in Sunday’s problematic general election sport dark brown ink stains on their index fingers. Those with ‘clean fingers’, by contrast, appear to have backed exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s call for an election boycott. Cambodia’s July 29 elections were fought not along conventional party lines, but around the single issue of turnout. At least 25 countries have made use of semi-permanent election ink, ostensibly to curtail fraudulent voting. The ink is supposed to stop people from voting more than once. In Cambodia, election ink has assumed a new significance: its purpose was to maximize voter turnout, by putting pressure on citizens to participate in an election that many of them viewed as farcical.
Cambodia: Ruling party claims landslide victory in ‘sham election’, with strongman Hun Sen set to extend his 33-year rule | AFP
Cambodia’s ruling party claimed a landslide win in Sunday’s one-horse election, an expected outcome after the main opposition was banned, paving the way for its leader Hun Sen to prolong his 33 years in power. Hun Sen, who came to power in 1985 in a country still plagued by civil war, has cracked down on dissent in the run-up to the poll, pressuring civil society, independent media and his political opponents. CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said his party won an estimated 100 out of 125 parliamentary seats. “The CPP won 80 per cent of all the votes and we estimate we will win not less than 100 seats,” Sok Eysan said.
Cambodia’s exiled opposition leaders have launched the ‘clean finger’ campaign which calls for a boycott of the general election scheduled on July 29, 2018. Typically, an indelible ink is placed on the finger of voters on election day which means those who fail to vote, have a clean finger. Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the main opposition party, was disbanded by the Supreme Court on November 2017 after the ruling party accused it of conspiring with foreign powers in an attempt to topple the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has ruled out a boycott of the seven-member alliance in next Monday’s election‚ even though he expressed strong reservations around the credibility and transparency of the polls. Supporters gathered outside the party headquarters cheered Chamisa for his decision to participate in the election. “We can’t boycott our victory. Winners don’t quit. Winners don’t boycott‚” Chamisa told journalists at the MDC’s headquarters. At the heart of the tiff is the clash between the MDC Alliance and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). The alliance accuses the ZEC of refusing to give it access to the voters roll and refusing to let it see the ballot paper — which‚ among other things‚ it believes will mysteriously see an X cast for Chamisa disappear and move to the box allocated to the incumbent‚ President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Cambodia: Authorities Threaten to Withhold Public Services if Villagers Don’t Vote For Cambodia’s Ruling Party | RFA
Agents working for Cambodia’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) are threatening to end public services for indigenous residents of Mondulkiri province unless they vote for the party in an upcoming election marred by allegations of campaign violations and a ban on the opposition, according to sources. An ethnic Phnong resident of Pulu village, in Mondulkiri’s Bu Sra commune, told RFA’s Khmer Service on Tuesday that local authorities and agents of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC)—headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s son, Hun Many—were compelling villagers to tick number 20 for the CPP on sample ballots ahead of the July 29 general election. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the resident said that authorities and UYFC agents told villagers local government officials would refuse to sign legal documents—including land titles, birth certificates, and family registers—for those who do not vote for the CPP on the sample ballots.
Cambodia’s election commission on Tuesday (Jul 17) described calls to boycott a controversial election on Jul 29 as a “crime” and said authorities were already pursuing charges against those who criticised the vote. Strongman leader Hun Sen is set to extend his 33-year grip on power in the upcoming election after supporting the dissolution of the main opposition group last year and turning up the heat on civil society and the media. In recent weeks, however, opposition figures – mostly those who left the country in the wake of a sweeping crackdown – have pushed back and called on voters to skip the poll in protest.
When Ariles López takes a break from her fruit stall and begins to describe her life in Venezuela, there is a moment when she chokes up and begins to cry. That will not come as a surprise, when you hear her story. López, who’s 47, is among those Venezuelans who say they will vote in Sunday’s election, despite a widely held view that it’s a fraudulent exercise calculated to keep President Nicolás Maduro in power. She is desperate for change, after a year of personal hardship that underscores the scale of the multilayered catastrophe that is engulfing Venezuela: hyperinflation, widespread hunger, deaths from preventable diseases, and a wave of deadly crime.
Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday slammed a call by a former leader of the now-dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) for voters to boycott the country’s upcoming general ballot, saying that it was a violation of electoral law. Earlier, former CNRP President Sam Rainsy, who is living in self-imposed exile to avoid a string of convictions widely seen as politically motivated, reiterated a call he made last week, urging Cambodia’s voters to boycott the July 29 elections if the party is not allowed to participate. In a four-minute video posted on his Facebook page on Friday, Sam Rainsy said that the CNRP, which was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November for its alleged role in a plot to topple Hun Sen’s government, is the only party fighting for democratic change in Cambodia, and that CNRP supporters and activists should stay away from the polls to refrain from legitimizing the election.
Venezuela’s opposition on Thursday called for a boycott of the May 20 presidential election, urging those running against President Nicolas Maduro to withdraw their candidacy. “Don’t take part and leave the streets empty,” said a statement issued by the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), the main opposition coalition, which said it would be a clear sign “rejecting Maduro’s regime and electoral fraud.” There are only two challengers running against Maduro, both former supporters of the late Hugo Chavez supporters who have distanced themselves from the current government.
President Ilham Aliyev is expected to secure a fourth consecutive term in Azerbaijan’s election on Wednesday that opponents say has already been skewed in his favor. The former Soviet republic’s huge energy reserves and its strategic location along the Caspian Sea mean it is viewed by Europe as an important alternative to Russia for energy supplies. Opposition parties say they are boycotting the presidential vote because of Aliyev’s sustained crackdown on dissent during his rule and a likely rigging of electoral results. “We are not going to participate in this show,” Jamil Hasanly, head of the National Council of Democratic Forces, the Azeri opposition coalition, told Reuters.
Cambodia’s former opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, called on Sunday for Cambodians to boycott a general election set for July 29 if his dissolved party isn’t allowed to take part. The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was dissolved by the Supreme Court last November at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government, which alleged it was plotting to take power with the help of the United States. The CNRP and the United States have denied the allegations, which followed the arrest of current party leader Kem Sokha on treason charges over the alleged plot. He has denied the charges and called them a ploy to help Hun Sen win re-election.
Egypt: The opposition is calling for a boycott of this month’s election. Will it work? | The Washington Post
Later this month, Egyptians will go to the polls to reelect Abdel Fatah al-Sissi to his second term as president. An all too familiar scenario is playing out: Sissi is the only viable candidate. His sole challenger, Mousa Mostafa Mousa, is the head of a party that had endorsed Sissi before entering its own candidate at the last minute. Other potential challengers were threatened, intimidated or arrested into withdrawing. The regime’s harassment and deterrence of potential opposition candidates do not always lead to calls for boycotting. This time, however, 150 opposition figures and seven political parties came together to denounce the elections as a farce and call for a boycott of the upcoming polls. As with most boycott campaigns, the opposition’s decision has roused its share of detractors who dismiss the strategy as ineffective and even a threat to Egypt’s security. The situation in Egypt raises a critical question: Do boycotts work?
The chairmen of seven political parties launched a campaign on Monday that seeks to mobilise the public to vote in the presidential election, scheduled for 26-28 March. In a statement issued following a meeting at the Wafd Party’s headquarters on 11 February political leaders said “a central operation room” will be formed in order to mobilise citizens in all governorates to cast their ballots. Yasser Qoura, assistant secretary-general of the Wafd Party, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the operation room will start work next week. “The campaign is a response to those who are calling for a boycott. We want as many citizens as possible to participate and vote,” he said.
Opposition parties and figures in Egypt called on Tuesday for a boycott of the March presidential election in which incumbent Abdel Fattah al-Sisi looks set to romp to victory. Branding the poll a “charade”, the coalition of eight parties and 150 public figures announced a campaign under the slogan “Stay at home” ahead of voting on March 26-28. “No to participation in this charade,” said Hamdeen Sabbahi, a presidential candidate in 2012 and 2014. At a news conference by the coalition, founded in December and describing itself as a democratic civic movement, Sabbahi asked: “How can we speak of an election when there is no guarantee of a free vote?”
Russia: Protesters urge boycott of presidential vote even as opposition leader is arrested | The Washington Post
From central Moscow to the Arctic, thousands of Russian protesters on Sunday called for a boycott of the upcoming presidential election even as the authorities detained organizers and raided the office of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Police detained Navalny, who branded the boycott a “voters’ strike” against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government, shortly after the protests began. But more than 1,000 people took to one of Moscow’s central thoroughfares nevertheless. Thousands more turned out on squares and streets in St. Petersburg, in Siberia and in places as remote as Murmansk, a port city in the far north where the temperature Sunday afternoon was 8 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.
If you oppose Vladimir Putin, is it even worth voting? This basic question over how much remains of Russian democracy is driving an emotional and divisive debate in the ranks of this country’s political opposition. Barred from the ballot in the March 18 presidential election, Russia’s most prominent Putin critic, Alexei Navalny, is staging rallies across the country this Sunday to call for a boycott of the vote. Other opposition politicians are furious over Navalny’s effort, arguing that convincing anti-Putin voters to stay home would be a gift to a Kremlin looking to the election as affirmation of its power.
Kenya’s Supreme Court is in its last day of hearing arguments on two petitions contesting results of the October 26 presidential election. Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared winner by a landslide after challenger Raila Odinga urged his supporters to boycott the poll, which was a re-run of the August election the court declared invalid. The two petitions were filed by a former lawmaker, Harun Mwau, and two human rights defenders, Njonjo Mue and Khalef Khalifa. The petitioners argued the electoral commission committed illegalities by going ahead with the election in spite of opposition leader Raila Odinga pulling out of the race.
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga told an audience in Washington Thursday that Kenyans are so upset over the presidential election that they are considering secession. Odinga, whose speech was broadcast on Kenyan television, told his audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that exclusion is the biggest problem in Kenyan politics today. He said unless that problem is addressed, it could tear the country apart. Odinga said all four of Kenya’s presidents since independence in 1963 have been from the Kikuyu or Kalenjin communities, despite the fact that the country is home to 44 recognized ethnic groups. President Uhuru Kenyatta is Kikuyu, and his deputy, who is expected to run in the next election, is Kalenjin. Odinga refused to compete in the recent presidential election, calling it a sham. Kenyatta won with 98 percent of the vote.
Just when many Kenyans thought they had seen the end of the country’s long election season, three petitions to contest the process were filed with the Supreme Court ahead of a Monday night deadline. The petitions target all sides in the presidential election controversy — the electoral commission, opposition leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta. Former lawmaker Harun Mwau filed a petition against the electoral commission, known as the IEBC, as well as its chairman and President Kenyatta. Mwau is challenging the validity of the October 26 re-run presidential election, which he argues was held in violation of Supreme Court directions, the Constitution and relevant electoral laws.
Kenya’s key western trading partners and political allies urged talks to resolve a deadlock over the country’s presidential elections, as the nation’s top court began considering petitions challenging the outcome of last month’s vote rerun. The Oct. 26 rerun of an annulled vote two months earlier has polarized the East African nation and exposed “deep tribal and ethnic rifts” that have characterized Kenyan politics in the past, the Atlanta-based Carter Center said Wednesday in an emailed statement. Its appeal for negotiations echoed similar calls by the European Union and the U.S. last week. “Kenya is in dire need of dialogue and reconciliation,” the Carter Center said. “Though both President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga have made calls for peaceful co-existence, it is also important for the politicians to engage in dialogue to resolve this protracted political standoff.”
Kenya’s main opposition alliance said it won’t challenge the results that gave President Uhuru Kenyatta a landslide victory in last week’s disputed election rerun in court and instead vowed to mobilize its supporters to press for a another vote. “This election must not stand,” opposition leader Raila Odinga told reporters in Nairobi, the capital. “If allowed to stand, it will make a complete mockery of elections and might well be the end of the ballot as a means of instituting government in Kenya.” Musalia Mudavadi, a senior leader of Odinga’s four-party National Super Alliance, said that while private citizens may challenge the election in court, the coalition won’t take legal action against the vote. Kenyatta, 56, secured 98.3 percent of the vote in an Oct. 26 election that the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission said was free and fair, but was boycotted by Odinga, who described it as a sham. The electoral agency said the turnout dropped to 38.8 percent from 79 percent in the Aug. 8 contest, which the Supreme Court nullified after the electoral agency failed to disprove opposition claims of rigging.
Three of Venezuela’s largest opposition parties vowed on Monday to boycott mayoral polls later this year in protest at an election system they say is biased in favor of President Nicolas Maduro’s ruling socialists. The multi-party Democratic Unity coalition has had a tough 2017, first failing to bring down Maduro in four months of protests that led to 125 deaths, then losing surprisingly to the Socialist Party in a gubernatorial election earlier this month. That has left the opposition weakened and divided, and Maduro strengthened, despite growing foreign pressure on his government over alleged rights abuses and corruption, and an unprecedented economic crisis that has millions skipping food. Three heavyweight movements in the opposition – Justice First, Popular Will and Democratic Action – announced on Monday they did not trust the government-leaning election board sufficiently to participate in the municipal polls in December.
Tensions were on the rise in western Kenya and parts of Nairobi amid confusion and discrepancies surrounding the country’s repeated presidential election this past week, with deadly violence breaking out in some areas. Shops were burned Friday night in Kawangware, a neighborhood in central Nairobi, and a civil society group reported that six people had been injured, including three with machete wounds. The neighborhood is a stronghold of the opposition leader Raila Odinga, who withdrew from the presidential race two weeks before the second vote. In western Kenya, where Mr. Odinga enjoys strong support, demonstrators clashed with the police. Six people were killed, 13 injured and 86 arrested in election-related unrest nationally, the police said late Friday.
It took the police the better part of two hours to haul away the bricks that had been stacked, at some point in the night, in front of the polling station at the Olympic Primary School. But few people in the sprawling Nairobi neighborhood of Kibera — as in many other places across Kenya — wanted anything to do with Thursday’s historic vote for president. Some Kibera residents spent the day lobbing stones at the police, while the police spent the day firing tear gas back. “This vote is a massive flop, whichever way you cut it,” said Maina Kiai, a leader of a Kenyan civil society coalition and a former United Nations special rapporteur. For decades, Kenya has been struggling to move from the shadow of dictatorship to a truly inclusive democracy, and the country has sacrificed much on that journey. Ten years ago, more than 1,100 people died and hundreds of thousands were displaced after an election many thought was stolen.
Kenyans have begun voting in an election rerun that has polarised the country and is likely to be fiercely disputed in the absence of the opposition leader Raila Odinga, who is boycotting the poll. In stark contrast to the first election, which the supreme court annulled last month, many polling stations in Odinga strongholds saw only a trickle of voters. In Nairobi’s Kibera slum, tangled wire and charred streets marked the spots where there had been sporadic outbreaks of violence overnight. Police fired teargas at opposition supporters who tried to set up barricades in front of a polling station, prompting them to lob stones at the officers. Similar scenes were repeated in the western towns of Migori, Siaya and Homa Bay.
Kenya stood on Tuesday at dangerous crossroads two days ahead of presidential elections, with deep divisions between rival leaders, publicly-voiced doubt over the vote’s credibility and a last-ditch legal bid to delay the poll. The opposition staged further protests, pursuing its vow to keep up the pressure from the street but also fuelling anxiety over potential violence on polling day and beyond. And in a further twist to the saga, the Supreme Court announced it would meet on the eve of voting to hear a petition to delay the election. Thursday’s drama is rooted in a decision by the same court to overturn the result of the first presidential election, which took place on August 8.
Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga has said that he will not take part in the presidential election re-run slated for 17 October “without legal and constitutional guarantees”. Last week, the Supreme Court annulled August’s election result saying the electoral commission (IEBC) had not followed the constitution. Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner by the IEBC. The court said a new election needs to be held by 31 October. Speaking to journalists, Mr Odinga said that the fresh vote must held in an environment where everything that went wrong can be corrected.