In the first few months after Lesotho’s crisis in August, much of the blame was pinned on the aggression of the country’s military commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli. But now, just days before the kingdom’s February 28 election aimed at resolving the impasse, there are indications that Prime Minister Tom Thabane may have an entire rogue military on his hands. The August 30 coup attempt saw Lesotho Defence Force soldiers chase Thabane from his official residence across the South African border. Simultaneously, troops attacked three police stations, killing one officer and injuring nine others. For South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the lead mediator in the crisis for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a crowning achievement came in November when he exiled Kamoli from Lesotho.
Much ink has been spilled on the issue of setting up an independent Electoral Commission to oversee the management of elections and referenda here. Successive governments over the years have been effective at talking about it, but only the current administration is going to make it a reality. While our electoral system and the easy accessibility of politicians mean that citizens are deeply engaged with the electoral process, this isn’t necessarily matched by a sense of public confidence that the current system works. Various controversies over the years have highlighted a level of political interference in our electoral system and have only added to the further erosion of that confidence. For example, the botched €50 million e-voting machine debacle was due in no small way to the Minister of the day going on a solo run.
With less than 100 hours until South Africa’s fifth democratic elections kick off, the countdown has begun. Political parties are pulling out all the stops to woo last-minute voters, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is geared up to receive its 25.3 million voters and over 20 000 law-enforcement officers have been deployed across the country, with the SA National Defence Force on stand-by. On Saturday, the ministers in the justice, crime prevention and security cluster visited Bekkersdal in Gauteng to assure residents that voting will proceed smoothly. The township – which has been engulfed in service delivery protests since last year – is one of several areas countrywide identified as hot spots ahead of the elections.
South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) plans to close its voter registration list after President Jacob Zuma officially publishes the May 7 general election date in the government’s gazette on Tuesday. “President Jacob Zuma will be proclaiming the election date that means the election date would be published in the government gazette. Our offices will be opened across the country from 8 O’clock until five in the evening,” said Kate Bapela, IEC spokesperson. “At 12 midnight, the voters’ role for the 2014 national and provincial elections closes [and] that means that anyone who registers after midnight today will never be able to participate in the upcoming election,” she said.
Engineers in Nigeria have called the country’s electoral commission to use electronic voting during next year’s elections to ensure a credible vote. The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has recommended that the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) use the Nigerian Communication Satellite (NigComSat) e-Voting system. The society said it was also willing to offer technical support to INEC on the system. NSE says it has used the system to successfully elect members of its current executive.
The Sri Lankan government is facing calls from both home and abroad to establish an independent electoral commission. In the wake of a Commonwealth report on elections in northern Sri Lanka, leading opposition parties joined a call by Commonwealth election observers for the island-nation to create such an impartial body. Opposition leaders say the government should re-instate the Sri Lankan constitution’s 17th Amendment, which provides for an independent electoral commission. Under the current 18th Amendment, President Mahinda Rajapaksa can appoint a commissioner of his choice, as well as to other positions such as chief justice. “Our party has repeatedly supported the 17th Amendment to the constitution, which makes way for the setting up of a number of independent commissions for elections, police, human rights, judicial services and bribery and corruption,” said R. Sampanthan, leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) party, whose candidate, C. V. Wigneswaran, swept the northern provincial council elections.
The Fiji regime says everything is on track for elections by the end of September next year and an independent Electoral Commission will be in place in a matter of weeks. But its critics say the Bainimarama government is stalling on crucial elections’ machinery and jeapardising the chance of free and fair polls. Commonwealth Heads of Government have urged Fiji to rapidly set up an independent electoral commission to oversee the elections due by the end of September next year. The leader of the Fiji Labour Party and a former Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, says he’s never seen Fiji so ill-prepared for an election. “We don’t have an Electoral Commission. We don’t have a supervisor of elections. So much more could be done. We don’t even have electoral legislation in place at the moment. So all this lack of preparation points to doubts in the minds of the people whether we are going to have elections as scheduled for September next year.”
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says its officials and those wanting to register for next years’ poll this weekend cannot be threatened to stay away. Some communities have warned IEC officials to stay out of their areas because service delivery issues that have not been addressed. Residents of Leratong Park, outside Kimberley, say they have been fighting for decent houses for more than 15 years, and are threatening to abstain from voting next year. Some say the IEC must stay away from their area this weekend. One of the residents who refused to be mentioned says: “We are not going to vote. Nothing changes and all stays the same.” Residents in Noupoort and some villages in Kuruman have also threatened to stop IEC officials from doing their jobs this weekend. IEC Deputy Chairperson, Terry Tselane says: “We expect a smooth weekend. People can’t hold democracy at ransom.” In Malamulele, residents have mixed views on the registration process. The area has been engulfed in violent protests in recent weeks. Officials are concerned.
International election observers in Guinea have voiced concern over “irregularities” during the first parliamentary poll since the 2008 coup. A joint statement said “breaches” were observed in eight out of 38 constituencies. The opposition coalition has already called for the 28 September vote to be annulled over “fraud”. Some provisional results have yet to be released by the electoral commission 11 days since the vote. Most of the 38 directly elected seats in the 114-member parliament have been announced, but not the 76 chosen by proportional representation.
Guinea’s long-delayed legislative election aimed at completing the mineral-rich West African nation’s transition to democracy will be held on September 24, its electoral commission said on Tuesday. Guinea’s government and opposition parties reached a U.N.-mediated agreement last week to hold elections at the end of September following a wave of opposition protests accusing President Alpha Conde of planning to rig the polls. “The Independent Electoral Commission has proposed holding the election on September 24,” said a statement from the body read over Guinea’s state television late on Tuesday.
Mr Badru Kiggundu, chairman of Uganda’s Electoral Commission, recently unveiled the Commission’s Strategic Plan and Road Map for 2016 elections in which it estimates that Shs1.2 trillion is needed for the elections. According to Kiggundu, democracy is expensive and so we should be appreciative if we spend that money to get a democratically elected government. Money alone will, however, not give Uganda a credible democratic election. In the past three elections, a lot of money was spent, but with mixed or negative results. The presidential elections in 2001 and 2006 ended up in the Supreme Court when the loser, Dr Kiiza Besigye, challenged the results that gave President Museveni the victory. On both occasions, the Supreme Court ruled by a split vote in favour of the incumbent but did not deny that the elections were short of being free and fair, given the intimidation, irregularities and open stealing of votes.
Iraqi election monitors on Sunday reported multiple irregularities in the country’s first provincial vote since U.S. troops left but were unclear as to whether results would be affected. In an initial report, two non-governmental organizations, Shams and Tamoz, said over 300 irregularities had been recorded by the seven thousand monitors they had sent across Iraq to cover Saturday’s polls. The vote was a key test of Iraq’s short experience with democratic elections because it was the first one run since the U.S. withdrawal in December 2011. Allegations of vote fixing are not uncommon following elections in the country.
Candidates on Saturday demanded a partial recount in recent Jordanian parliamentary elections, even as protests regarding the contested results rumbled on, DPA reported Hundreds of supporters of defeated candidates rallied in Amman and Mafraq, marking the third straight day of protests over the results of the January 23 polls. Some 56.7 per cent of Jordan’s 3 million eligible voters cast ballots in Wednesday’s polls, which were declared by international observers to be free and fair, with few irregularities. However several candidates cried foul after a late surge in voting tipped the balance in several heated contests and after final election results on Thursday sealed some candidates’ victories with margins in the single digits.
Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) will soon issue millions of permanent voter cards in time for the next general election, according to Nick Dazang, the INEC deputy director public affairs. “INEC has given out a contract for the production of the first batch of 40 million permanent voter cards to be distributed before the 2015 general elections,” said Dazang. The electoral commission, which registered over 73 million new voters for the 2011 general elections, at the time, issued temporary cards to voters. But, Dazang said INEC has signed contracts for the production of permanent cards with special electronic security features.
The chairman of Ghana’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) says the ongoing voter registration process will ensure a credible general election December 7. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan called on prospective voters to verify their personal information during a 10 day registration program. “We are exhibiting the provisional voter register [and] after that we will make any corrections that are appropriate, and then print the final voters register,” Afari-Gyan said. “Without the register we can’t take nominations, so I reckon that we take nominations for the elections around the middle of October, and then we will be on.”
Guinea: Head of Guinea’s election commission resigns, days after violent protests | Montreal Gazette
The head of Guinea’s electoral body has announced his resignation in a statement read on state TV, bowing to the demands and protests of an opposition alleging the rigging of the electoral process ahead of much-delayed parliamentary elections. Louceny Camara, president of the National Independent Electoral Commission, made his resignation public on Wednesday evening. The opposition had accused him of being an ally of President Alpha Conde, who won the 2010 presidential election in a vote that was deemed democratic but deeply divisive.
The party of the longtime prime minister won Lesotho’s parliamentary elections, according to complete results posted Tuesday on the website of the southern African country’s Independent Electoral Commission. Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Democratic Congress won 41 of 80 seats, the simple majority needed to form a government, though it may need to form a coalition to consolidate power. The All Basotho Convention, the main opposition, had 26 seats. Shortly before Saturday’s vote in this nation of 2 million, Mosisili broke away from the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, which had been riven by an internal power struggle. The Lesotho Congress for Democracy had 12 seats while another opposition party had one according to the final results.
Hundreds of rival supporters packed out Maseru’s Manthabiseng Convention Centre on Monday, waiting (mostly) patiently to hear the final results of Lesotho’s general elections held on Saturday. Their waiting was in vain, however; official results will only be announced on Tuesday morning at the earliest, and that is only if the bad weather clears up and the helicopters are able to land in remote areas to collect the ballots. However, the result of the election is an open secret amongst party leaders and officials from Lesotho’s independent electoral commission, who told the Daily Maverick that Prime Minister Mosisili had edged his main opponent, Thomas Thabane, by just one constituency seat. This is based on the vote counts conducted in each constituency, which have yet to be verified or announced, but are unlikely to change.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in Maseru will start distributing ballot papers starting on Wednesday in preparation for the Advanced voting on Saturday. This has been confirmed by the District Electoral Officer (DEO) in Maseru, Mr. Motlohi Sekoala in an interview on Tuesday. Mr. Sekoala said the ballot papers will be distributed under heavy police guard to ensure maximum safety during the exercise. He said there are about 970 advanced voters in 18 Maseru constituencies who are expected to cast their votes after applying as advanced electors.
The King of Lesotho has set 26 May as the date for eagerly awaited general elections following a successful dialogue that ended the deadlock among the main political players. Agreement was reached one year ago after lengthy negotiations mediated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) aimed at finding a lasting solution to the political challenges in the country. “King Letsie III, in accordance with section 37 (1) of the 2011 National Assembly Election Act, and acting in accordance with the advice of the Council of State, proclaims that May 26 will be Election Day,” said a statement released by Prime Minister Mosisili Pakalitha in March. King Letsie III dissolved the Lesotho Parliament on 15 March to pave way for campaigning by the country’s 10 political parties. Post-electoral dissatisfaction emerged in Lesotho after the 2007 elections as the opposition party refused to accept the results, plunging the country into a crisis.
King Letsie III is expected to dissolve parliament on Thursday next week ahead of the country’s 8th parliamentary elections. Speaking yesterday on the sidelines of a Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations seminar held to discuss the country’s preparedness for the polls, the Independent Electoral Commission spokesperson, Mrs ‘Mamatlere Matete told Public Eye the 7th parliament is supposed to be officially closed on March 15, in line with the country’s constitution. “The term of the current parliament ends on the 15th of March 2012, as it began its tenure on March 15 2007. Therefore, we expect the King to dissolve the parliament as indicated in the country’s constitution. “Again, in line with Lesotho’s constitution, we should host elections within 90 days of the dissolution of parliament, and this is what we are expecting to happen,” said Matete.
Fixed term elections, an independent electoral commission and ethical governance are among a raft of items due to be discussed today in a take note motion led by United Bermuda Party MP Kim Swan. They feature in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s recommended benchmarks for democratic legislatures in the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region developed last summer. The take note motion will kick off debate on the benchmarks, which were tabled in the form of a brochure last week.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is floating the idea of introducing electronic voting system in the next elections. The IEC principal public relations officer, Osupile Maroba, revealed that the commission was exploring the possibility of benchmarking on countries that have the same voting system as Botswana. The IEC has been conducting workshops with relevant stakeholders, gathering views on how to prepare for future general elections and come up with ways of encouraging people to register and vote in large numbers.
The Independent Electoral Commission this week deregistered nine more political parties ahead of the general election, which reports suggest could take place in May this year. This makes it a total 12 parties the Commission has struck-off its roll in a space of one month for failing to comply with the country’s electoral laws, following the deregistration of the Christian Democratic Party, Lesotho Labour Party and United Democratic Party in December 2011.
The Gambia: Gambian Incumbent President Jammeh re-elected with landslide victory, calls for national unity | NL-Aid
President Yahya Jammeh on Friday secured a new five-year term after the Independent Electoral Commission declared him winner of 24th November 2011 presidential election. Results announced by the returning officer and Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Mustapha L. Carayol, showed Jammeh polled 72% of the total votes cast while main opposition leader Ousainou Darboe polled 17%. Independent candidate Hamat Bah scored 11% of the total votes cast. Voter turnout was 83%, showing a massive jump from that of the 2006 elections, which was about 59%.
According to the IEC chairman, out of a total number of 796, 929 voters, Hamat Bah polled 73, 060 votes, Ousainou Darboe 114, 177 votes while President Yahya Jammeh polled 470, 550 votes. Jammeh’s victory, seen by many as a foregone conclusion, was also described as historic in the country’s politics, as Jammeh won with a landslide in all the 48 constituencies across the country.
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.
Two commissioners and the director of elections have been dispatched to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to observe and monitor the presidential and legislative elections in the vast, resource-rich African country.
Technical support will be provided in the deployment of a technical team made up of IT and logistics officers, and in training programmes for CENI (the DRC’s National Independent Electoral Commission) members and deployment of the observer mission.
The Independent Electoral Commission says it is not planning on rolling out an electronic voting system in our country for the next national elections. The Commission’s Mosotho Moepya says South Africans will still stand in queues to vote at the 2014 general elections. He has been speaking to Newswatch after the Commission revealed it has commissioned…