Central African Republic’s presidential and parliamentary elections next month may deepen the crisis in the diamond-producing country as armed militias occupy large areas and as much as a fifth of the population won’t be able to vote. The capital, Bangui, is facing the worst outbreak of violence since early 2014 after the murder of a Muslim taxi driver in September triggered revenge attacks in which about 100 people were killed, according to the government. The army has disintegrated, while armed groups have partitioned the nation of 5 million people and battle to control the gold and diamond trade. “The country is in pieces,” the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report. “It’s a recipe for disaster,” Tatiana Carayannis, deputy director of the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum, which advises the United Nations, said by phone from New York.Full Article: Is Vote Too Soon in Diamond-Rich Central African Republic? - Bloomberg Business.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, today said that while the Presidential polls conducted in the country this past Sunday were not met with violence as in previous cases, no progress was made in serving the Belarusians’ right to free and fair election. “The election process was orchestrated, and the result was pre-ordained. It could not be otherwise, given the 20 years of continuous suppression of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, which are the preconditions for any credible competition,” Mr. Haraszti said in a press statement. The Special Rapporteur noted that none of the international and local independent election monitors could verify the official claims of 86 per cent voter turnout or 84 per cent endorsement of the incumbent. “Such high scores have never been claimed in elections in Europe since the end of the Soviet Union,” Mr. Haraszti stressed. “The observers’ documentations highlighted that not even the four days of coerced participation of prison inmates, army conscripts, and public servants under the label of ‘early voting,’ can give up the stated numbers,” he added.Full Article: United Nations News Centre - Belarus election ‘neither free nor fair,’ says UN human rights expert.
The United Nations has issued a directive to its staff restricting travel to Burma during the election period, citing possible disruptions. The Democratic Voice of Burma has received a copy of a letter circulated by the New York-based UN Department of Safety and Security dated Sept 22, 2015. It states: “Myanmar [Burma] will hold general elections on 8 November 2015 with an official campaign running from 8 September till 6 November 2015. There are high expectations in the country that the elections will be carried out peacefully; however electoral-related disruptions are expected around the Polling Day until the final results are announced on 22 November 2015. The Designated Official, in consultation with the Security Management Team, has recommended that temporary travel restrictions should be in place for non-critical, external visits to Myanmar between 6- 24 November 2015.Full Article: UN expects ‘disruptions’ during Myanmar election | Bangkok Post: news.
Haiti’s prime minister and elections council president sought to reassure the international community Thursday that all was on track for the country’s most complex election process in history. “We’ve already started the process, and progress is visible,” Pierre-Louis Opont, president of the Provisional Electoral Council, known as the CEP, told Haiti’s international partners in New York during a United Nations donors conference. The country was seeking $31 million to cover election costs. At the meeting, Brazil, Canada, Norway and the United States promised to provide additional funding, the spokesman for the U.N. Secretary General said. It was unclear Thursday how much. An effusive Opont told donors that political parties, civil society and voters had confidence in the elections council, adding that “we have headed off skeptics.”Full Article: Haiti pleads for international help on elections | Miami Herald Miami Herald.
The Burundian government and political opposition groups are committed to resolving the disputes that have flared into violence, with a less than week left before a presidential vote that sparked the unrest, a mediator said. Discussions between the groups, which have included civil society activists, opposition parties and three former presidents, are making progress and they aim to report back with proposals as soon as possible, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday. Museveni, who was picked by the five-nation East African Community to mediate an end to the political crisis, led efforts for two days in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, and his defense minister, Crispus Kiyonga, will arrive on Thursday to take over that role.Full Article: Burundi Parties Agree to Push Ahead With Pre-Vote Mediation - Bloomberg Business.
A top U.S. official stunned some Washington lawmakers Wednesday with testimony that Haiti needs as much as $50 million to carry out successful elections this year. The declaration during a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Western Hemisphere hearing comes just three weeks before Haiti is scheduled to hold the first of three critical elections. “There is a fairly good chance (the election) will happen,” Thomas Adams, the State Department’s special coordinator for Haiti, said about the scheduled Aug. 9 elections to restore Haiti’s parliament. “But there are still a few issues left. One is a lack of funding.”Full Article: Haiti still needs more than $30 million for elections | Miami Herald Miami Herald.
The ruling party of Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has swept to an expected overwhelming victory in controversial parliament elections that were boycotted by the opposition, according to official results released Tuesday. The opposition had argued that weeks of protests and a violent crackdown by security forces meant free and fair elections were impossible, and the United Nations said voting took place amid “a climate of widespread fear and intimidation”. The country has also been left without most of its independent media outlets, after several radio stations were attacked and destroyed in fighting during an attempted coup against Nkurunziza in May.Full Article: Burundi ruling party wins controversial parliamentary poll - Yahoo News.
Burundi on Sunday rejected a second UN diplomat named to help resolve the country’s political crisis, saying a critical UN report on last week’s parliamentary elections was biased. The tiny east African country plunged into turmoil in late April when protests erupted in response to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term. The opposition boycotted the June 29 parliamentary election and says it will boycott the July 15 presidential vote.Full Article: Burundi rejects UN mediator after critical report about elections.
Elections in Burundi that were racked by violence and boycotted by the opposition were not free or credible, United Nations observers said on Thursday, after clashes left six dead in the capital. Parliamentary and local elections were held on Monday despite an appeal by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, for a postponement after months of turmoil. The UN electoral observer mission said in a report that the elections took place “in a tense political crisis and a climate of widespread fear and intimidation in parts of the country”. “Episodes of violence and explosions preceded and in some cases accompanied election day activities, mostly in Bujumbura,” said the nine-page report. The mission concluded “that the environment was not conducive for free, credible and inclusive elections”.Full Article: UN declares Burundi elections not free or credible after clashes | World news | The Guardian.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has conveyed his “strong expectation” that the Government of Sri Lanka will ensure “the peaceful and credible conduct” of its upcoming Presidential election. The Secretary-General spoke on the phone with Sri Lanka’s Minister of External Affairs Prof. GL Peiris on 24 December and reaffirmed the UN’s continuous support for reconciliation, political dialogue and accountability as the country heads towards the election on 8 January 2015.Full Article: Sri Lanka : UN chief calls for \'peaceful and credible\' election in Sri Lanka.
More than a million Nigerians are internally displaced due to insurgency fighting in the northern part of the country, while some fear that their votes will not be counted in the upcoming 2015 general elections. On Tuesday, the Nigerian Senate urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to do all that is in their administrative power to ensure that Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) could vote in the elections. According to figures released by the United Nations agency for refugees (UNHCR) this week, the number of IDP in Nigeria has reached 1.5 million, mainly due to the rise of Boko Haram militants. The extremist group has stepped up attacks this year and declared an Islamic state in areas it controls, mainly in the north of the country.Full Article: Voting Rights of Millions of Displaced Nigerians Uncertain | News | teleSUR.
Rebel commander Alexander Zakharchenko smiled only slightly on hearing that he had won this weekend’s elections in Donetsk, Ukraine (pictured). The results were never in doubt: Mr Zakharchenko’s nominal opponents openly supported him, and his face was the only one on campaign billboards. Nonetheless, eastern Ukraine’s separatist republics went through the motions of democracy, including inviting international election observers. Those proved hard to find: while Russia has said it will respect the vote, America, the European Union, and the United Nations have all condemned it. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe refused to monitor the elections. The European politicians who did show up to observe were drawn from a smattering of far-right parties, including Hungary’s Jobbik, France’s National Front, and Italy’s Forza, as well as a few far-left ones. While they may not have done much to legitimise the vote, their presence was significant as a marker of Russia’s growing relationship with Europe’s political fringes. The elections in the breakaway pro-Russian regions were marked by armed men standing next to ballot boxes and a disturbing absence of voter rolls. This did not bother the European observers, who pronounced the voting free and fair. Many of them had arrived in Donetsk with luggage bearing “ROV” airline tags, code for the Russian city of Rostov, where they had flown in before crossing the border by car into separatist-held territory. Russia has been courting European fringe parties for years, part of a multi-pronged strategy aimed at “undermining the EU project”, argues Thomas Gomart, a Russia scholar at the French Institute of International Relations.Full Article: Ukraine's rebels and the Eurosceptics: Potemkin observers | The Economist.
The United Nations’ human rights body said Wednesday it would take up the issue of voting rights in Hong Kong, where activists are railing against Beijing’s move to vet local candidates. The Human Rights Committee, which monitors respect of an international treaty on civil and political rights, will hold a public session on the thorny issue on Oct. 23, spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssel told AFP. The news follows an announcement by China late last month that Hong Kong’s next leader will be vetted by a pro-Beijing committee, dashing hopes for genuine democracy in the former British colony.Full Article: Hong Kong voting rights on agenda at UN rights body - The China Post.
After a potential opening last week to ease Afghanistan’s political crisis, the presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah signaled on Sunday that more deadlock was ahead, promising again that he would not accept any decisions made by the country’s election commission after the panel rejected a list of his demands. “From today onward, we reject all the decisions and activities of the Independent Election Commission, which will not have any legal value anyway,” said Baryalai Arsalai, Mr. Abdullah’s campaign manager. “They have no intention to assess the fraudulent votes and separate the dirty votes from the clean votes.” In the two weeks since the presidential runoff vote, the election process has been shadowed by accusations of fraud and conspiracy, with the Abdullah campaign accusing a range of officials all the way to the presidential palace of rigging the vote against him. There have been dramatic protests flooding the streets of Kabul, and secretly captured phone calls that allegedly show election officials conspiring to rig the race.Full Article: Amid Claims of Fraud, Afghan Presidential Candidate Vows More Deadlock - NYTimes.com.
Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday defended himself against electoral fraud allegations that have tipped the country into a political crisis, vowing to fight for every ballot cast for him. Ghani’s poll rival Abdullah Abdullah has said he will reject the result of the ongoing vote count due to what he claimed was “blatant fraud” committed by Ghani, the election authorities and outgoing President Hamid Karzai. “I ask Dr Abdullah as a national figure to respect the rule of law,” Ghani told supporters in his first speech since the dispute over alleged fake votes erupted. “We are all tired of the language of threats and unlawfulness… Our votes are clean, and we will defend each vote,” he said. Ghani, who travelled abroad for dental treatment after the June 14 election, returned to Kabul to deliver an uncompromising message to Abdullah, who has boycotted the Independent Election Commission (IEC). “It is the people’s right to elect their leader through votes. Some people have created a situation where they threaten that right,” he said.Full Article: Afghan election contender Ghani dismisses fraud claims - Channel NewsAsia.
Syria: As Presidential Election Begins, Survivors of Chemical Attack Shun Vote In Disgust | International Business Times
The sounds Qusai Zakarya heard the morning of Aug. 21, 2013, in Moadimiyeh, Syria, near Damascus, were not what he was used to. The bombs, he said, sounded different — they didn’t buzz and crash in the same way they had in the slew of previous regime bombardments, and the people running for cover were holding their eyes, falling and vomiting. Those were signs that the international community and human rights organizations said were indicative of a chemical attack. Now, nearly a year later, the man behind the attack, President Bashar Assad, is standing for re-election in what’s widely seen as a sham. And Zakarya is in the U.S., working to prove to Western leaders that what he saw that day was real, and that Assad needs to be removed from power. Wednesday marked the first day Syrians living outside of the country could cast their ballot in the presidential election that no one expects Assad to lose. Tens of thousands voted, many of them at the Syrian Embassy in Beirut. According to Reuters, refugees said that pro-Assad Lebanese groups had mobilized them to go vote. Syrian state television said voting took place in 43 embassies.Full Article: As Syria Presidential Election Begins, Survivors of Chemical Attack Shun Vote In Disgust.
The United Nations has sent a delegation to New Caledonia in the lead up to crucial municipal and provincial elections as supporters and opponents of independence joust over who should have the right to vote. The UN delegation arrived in New Caledonia in March in the midst of the electoral campaign for local town councils. The visit also coincided with the arrival of French judges charged with updating the electoral rolls for national elections to be held on 11 May. According to a UN statement, the objective of the visit is to monitor “New Caledonia’s provincial electoral process, especially the technical issues related to the electoral lists for the provincial elections in May, as well as to uphold the spirit and letter of the 1998 Noumea Accord in this process.” New Caledonia was relisted with the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation in 1986, and since that time the UN has maintained a watching brief over progress towards a referendum on self-determination in the French Pacific dependency.Full Article: UN sends mission to New Caledonia - Politics - April 2014 - Islands Business magazine.
Guinea Bissau holds presidential and legislative elections on April 13 in a bid to help restore democracy two years after a coup that thwarted a previous vote and triggered an economic slide in the former Portuguese colony. As many as 775,500 voters out of a population of 1.6 million will cast ballots in an election that was delayed twice, according to the United Nations Integrated Peace-Building Office in Guinea Bissau. There are 13 presidential candidates, while 15 parties are vying for 102 seats in parliament. Former Finance Minister Jose Mario Vaz is considered the frontrunner in the presidential vote, according to Bjorn van Wees, Africa analyst at the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit. Vaz is the candidate for Partido Africano da Independencia da Guine e Cabo Verde, or PAIGC, which fought a guerrilla war against the Portuguese and took power at independence in 1974.Full Article: Guinea Bissau Holds First Vote Since Coup in Bid to Lift Economy - Bloomberg.
When you think of the type of countries the United Nations might want to keep an eye on, you probably think of, say, Libya, whose citizens voted for the first time in over 40 years in 2012. But newly democratized countries aren’t the only subjects of U.N. election oversight. In 2012, civil-rights groups voiced their concern to the U.N. that state voter-ID laws would lead to voter suppression. The U.N. sent 44 of its election monitors to states—including Tennessee—and drew much ire from conservative groups in the process. Now, the Republican-controlled Legislature in Tennessee is fighting back against the international governing body. On Tuesday, the state Senate passed a bill banning U.N. elections monitors from overseeing state elections—unless they have express permission from the U.S. Senate to be there. The legislation now sits on Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk, waiting to be signed.
Just a few years ago, Timbuktu was still a popular destination for tourists. These days, by contrast, the town has the lugubrious air of many post-conflict zones around the world. White SUVs from the United Nations patrol its streets. Its citizens depend on handouts from international humanitarian organizations. The electricity supply is still spotty. The craftsmen and tour guides who used to live from the tourism trade now wait in vain for customers. The reasons for the decline in the city’s fortunes are all too apparent. In 2011, a Tuareg-dominated separatist group known as the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), capitalizing on an influx of weapons from Libyan arsenals after the collapse of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi’s regime, stormed across northern Mali (an area the rebels saw as a Tuareg homeland they called “Azawad”). The poorly equipped and deeply demoralized Malian Army collapsed. The outside world took relatively little notice at first — but then the MNLA’s allies, jihadi groups such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), set out to hijack the rebellion. In Timbuktu, they declared their own brand of sharia rule, amputating the limbs of thieves and stoning alleged adulterers.Full Article: Votes, Hopes, and Missing Faces.