Voters in the Comoros went to the polls on Monday in a politically explosive referendum that could change the constitution and allow President Azali Assoumani to rule beyond 2021, his current term limit. Voters were scarce at several polling stations in the capital Moroni as the day began, AFP reporters witnessed. Burdened by a long history of turbulence, the Indian Ocean archipelago risks renewed unrest after Assoumani banned demonstrations and the opposition vowed to fiercely resist the proposed changes. Opposition lawmakers had demanded an “unconditional halt without delay to the arbitrary and illegal process” of the referendum, which they said they would boycott.
Ireland began voting on Friday in an abortion referendum that could be a milestone on a path of change in a country that, only two decades ago, was one of Europe’s most socially conservative. Polls suggest Irish voters are set to overturn one of the world’s strictest bans on terminations. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, in favour of change, has called the referendum a “once-in-a-generation” chance. Voters in the once deeply Catholic nation will be asked if they wish to scrap a prohibition that was enshrined in the constitution by referendum 35 year ago, and partly lifted in 2013 only for cases where the mother’s life is in danger.
The leader of a Burundian opposition coalition said Saturday they would not accept the outcome of a referendum on extending the president’s time in office, calling the vote undemocratic and marred by intimidation. As the East African nation awaited the electoral commission’s announcement of the results of Thursday’s vote, Agathon Rwasa said the opposition had proof of arrests of perceived opponents and threats of assassination against those who voted against changing the constitution. “It is a parody. We will not accept the outcome of this referendum because it is a fantasy,” the former rebel leader told The Associated Press, calling on the electoral commission to redo the vote in a way that is free and fair.
Ireland: As polls narrow before the abortion vote, is rural Ireland setting up a Brexit moment? | The Guardian
The polls have narrowed so much that a result once nearly taken for granted now hangs in the balance; the media are under fierce attack for bias; and questions are swirling about foreign influence and online ads. As Ireland heads into the last week of campaigning for its historic referendum on abortion, the long shadow of two recent surprise election results – the Brexit referendum across the Irish sea, and Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US presidential poll – is hanging over Irish voters. They will decide on Friday whether to repeal an amendment dating back to the 1980s that enshrined in the constitution a near-total ban on abortion. The controls are the strictest in any western democracy, meaning that the battle has been closely watched by anti-abortion activists across the world.
Google has banned all adverts relating to the Irish abortion referendum from its platform, amid fears of overseas organisations taking advantage of loopholes in campaign funding laws to target voters before polling day. The decision will mean an end to advertisements relating to the referendum appearing alongside Google results and on YouTube during the final fortnight of the campaign. “Following our update around election integrity efforts globally, we have decided to pause all ads related to the Irish referendum on the eighth amendment,” a spokesperson said.
There are far more than three billboards outside Roscommon, and their opposing messages indicate an intensifying battle for undecided voters in the historic referendum on abortion this month. On the roads into this quiet town in the middle of rural Ireland, it is impossible to miss the laminated placards fixed to lamp-posts. Some have one from each camp, vying for the attention of passersby in a polarised campaign in which voters have to make a binary choice between yes and no. A few hoardings have been torn down in the night, in a sign of strongly held beliefs. But mostly, the people of Roscommon are holding their views close, unwilling to discuss with each other – let alone a stranger – where they will place their cross on 25 May.
A Canadian organisation is seeking to fundraise 7,000 Canadian dollars (€4,500) to send up to 24 independent electoral observers to Ireland for the referendum campaign to assess whether both sides “play fair” in the process. Non-governmental organisation SDAI-ADID says it is interested in “supporting and strengthening democracy through election observation” and that it wants to observe whether the electoral process adheres to “international standards of free, fair and transparent elections”.
Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza, has set May 17 as the referendum date for a controversial constitutional reform, according to a presidential decree signed on Sunday March 18. The election could allow President Nkurunziza, 54, who has been in office since 2005, to remain in power until 2034. The decree specifies that the reform will be adopted if the proportion of favorable votes is 50% plus one vote, and that parties or individuals wishing to participate in the campaign for or against this reform must register with the Independent National Electoral Commission ( CENI) between March 23 and April 6.
Guatemalans voted Sunday in a referendum that could take the country a step closer to resolving a longstanding territorial dispute with neighboring Belize. The ballot asked whether voters agree to send the issue to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, for a binding ruling. However, Belize has yet to hold its own referendum as stipulated under a 2008 agreement with Guatemala, under which both countries would ask the court to take up the matter. Guatemala claims some 4,200 square miles (11,000 square kilometers) of terrain administered by Belize — essentially the country’s entire southern half.
The result of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment could be undermined if a legal challenge about voting rights for Irish citizens in Northern Ireland is not decided beforehand, the High Court has heard. Lawyers for a Belfast student who wants to bring a legal challenge to the exclusion of people in Northern Ireland from voting in the May referendum say the case must be heard beforehand or risk invalidating the result. Roisin Morelli is seeking permission from the High Court to bring the challenge. She says citizens of Northern Ireland have a constitutional right to vote in such referendums.