Counting of votes cast in the first round of Comoros’ presidential polls was expected to wind up on Tuesday as tensions mounted between re-election-seeking President Azali Assoumani and his rivals, who accuse him of fraud.
Twelve people were injured on Monday when police fired teargas and rubber bullets at opposition candidates and supporters as they marched through the capital Moroni protesting alleged irregularities.
Interior Minister Mohamed “Kiki” Daoudou said that counting, underway at the National Assembly in Moroni, would be concluded later Tuesday.
He did not say when the results, which must announced within five days of Sunday’s vote, would be announced.
“We have authorities who have gone mad and fired at the very candidates who won at the ballot box,” said opposition Juwa party candidate Mahamoudou Ahamada.
But Daoudou insisted Ahamada and his allies “want to create disorder in Moroni, there’s no question of that being allowed.
“We will do everything necessary to guarantee the peace and stability of the country,” he told AFP.
Heavily-armed soldiers were deployed to several key locations in the capital with orders to prevent unrest.
Sixty-year-old Azali’s main rivals, the Union of the Opposition, allege that irregularities at several polling stations reported by the electoral commission on Sunday amounted to a “coup d’etat” and called for public “resistance”.
“We utterly reject these results,” said Juwa’s Ahamada at a media briefing.
“The most sensible solution would be to organise elections worthy of a civilised country as soon as possible.”
An electoral commission official told AFP on Sunday that a dozen booths had been vandalised during polling.
– ‘A climate of panic’ -Witnesses said several stuffed ballot boxes were found on Anjouan island — an opposition stronghold.
Some opposition poll monitors were also prevented from carrying out their duties, they added.
Counting started Sunday night at the National Assembly under police guard.
“We will use all peaceful means to oust the government,” said opposition figure Soilihi “Campagnard” Mohamed.
Official observers were also critical of the poll.
“(We) condemn the incidents witnessed which meant voters were unable to exercise their civic right in conditions of calm,” said a joint statement issued by observers from the African Union, the Comesa east and southern African bloc, and the Eastern Africa Standby Force.
Azali’s campaign director Houmed Msaidie described opposition claims of election fraud as “pathetic”, accusing them of creating “a climate of panic to invalidate the electoral process”.
“If there was fraud, they should go to the appropriate authorities,” he told AFP.
Some 300,000 voters were eligible to vote in the Indian Ocean archipelago, which has a two-round system for electing the president.
The mainly Muslim nation of 800,000 people is one of the world’s poorest and most coup-prone states — there have been more than 20 attempted or successful power grabs since independence from France in 1975.
The Supreme Court barred some of Azali’s major rivals, including former president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, accused of corruption, from running.
Azali staged the poll after Comorans voted in a referendum, boycotted by the opposition, to support the extension of presidential mandates from one five-year term to two.
The change upset a fragile balance of power established in 2001 that sought to end separatist crises on Anjouan and Moheli, and halt the endless cycle of coups.
Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed to avoid questions at Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo
Events kick off with meetings at the Nobel Institute and a large press conference with the Peace Prize winner
The Norwegian Nobel Committee is grappling with challenges just days before the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize arrives in Oslo.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has made it clear he won’t attend any event where he could publicly be asked questions, either by the press or even children, and the committee finds that “highly problematic.”
Olav Njølstad, Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute and secretary for the committee that annually awards the Peace Prize, told Norwegian Broadcasting that the Nobel Institute and the Nobel Committee wishes Abiy Ahmed had said ‘yes’ to meeting Norwegian and international press.
Ahmed’s decision to avoid any events in which he’d need to answer questions has thus resulted in a highly amputated program for the “Nobel Peace Prize Days” that should begin in Oslo on Monday, December 9.
Events traditionally kick off with meetings at the Nobel Institute with committee members and a large press conference with the Peace Prize winner that’s broadcast live.
For the first time in many years, the Nobel press conference has been cancelled, as have traditional in-depth interviews usually conducted by NRK, the BBC and Al Jazeera.
Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni leads walk against corruption in his government
The three and a half kilometre walk from Constitutional Square to Kololo Independence Grounds saw the closure of roads within the city
President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday morning led a walk against corruption in the country, themed, “A Corruption-free Uganda Starts with Me,” in the capital city of Kampala, Uganda. He was joined by key government officials, traditional leaders, civil servants and Ugandan citizens.
According to Edith Nakalema, the head of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit, the main conveners of the event, the walk is a show of commitment to support and intensify the fight against corruption.
The three and a half kilometre walk from Constitutional Square to Kololo Independence Grounds saw the closure of roads within the city for several hours, forcing many who didn’t participate to walk to their places of work.
Museveni ended his public address at the event by claiming that, ‘obesity is a part of corruption’.
Irate Ugandans took to Twitter to express their outrage over the President and leader of government ostensibly fighting corruption within his own government by leading a walk, rather than encouraging the active prosecution of cases.
Transparency International ranks Uganda 149th out of 180 countries in its corruption perceptions index of 2018, where the top-listed country is perceived as the least corrupt.
Elsewhere, Uganda’s police blocked opposition leader Kizza Besigye’s own parallel anti-corruption march. Police spokesman Patrick Onyango accused the opposition of planning to cause chaos in the capital. “They were planning to cause chaos in the city,” said Onyango.
Besigye was headed to the location of his march when he was stopped by police and his vehicle forcefully towed back to his home, where he was put under heavy police guard. He has described the walk led by the president as “a parade of the corrupt”.
“What’s happening today is a good demonstration of a captive state because you saw that the city was surrounded by gunmen ensuring that whatever they want to happen is what happens,” Besigye said while addressing journalists in Kampala on Wednesday.
He further declared:
“I understand there has been a march in town of public servants; people that we pay who are the problem of this country, involved in public sector corruption. Today, we have a demonstration of the corrupt, headed by the chief corrupt person, Mr Museveni himself. It’s the parade of the corrupt. What we wanted to do was to precisely label them to show who they were.”
Besigye is a key figure in Ugandan politics; he is an opposition leader in a country whose leadership is highly intolerant to opposing political units organizing.
He unsuccessfully vied against Ugandan strongman, Museveni, in four elections and is often in the crosshairs of Uganda’s ruling party with his arrests being extremely frequent.
Nandi county senator arrested over ethnic incitement, hate speech in Kenya
Cherargei, a close ally of the Deputy President William Ruto, was previously summoned by police over the remarks
The senator from Kenya’s Nandi County, Samson Kiprotich Cherargei was arrested on Tuesday morning by detectives from the Directorate of Criminal investigations (DCI) and arraigned in court following utterances he made at Kilibwoni Primary School on 17th August 2019. He was later released on a cash bail of Kes 300,000.
Cherargei, a close ally of the Deputy President William Ruto, was previously summoned by police over the remarks. In a viral video that circulated over social media in August, the senator is seen to issue unspecified threats at critics of the Deputy President. “For those who are opposed to the Deputy President, we are profiling you and marking you; we will deal with you,” he said.
He faces charges of ethnic contempt, in contravention of Section 62(1) of the National Cohesion and Integration Act as well as incitement to violence, contrary to Section 96(a) of the Penal Code.
His arrest is the culmination of investigations by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC). The government body was formed to address inter-ethnic conflict following the 2007-2008 post-election violence and ethnic clashes in Kenya that left 1500 people dead. The commission is investigating several politicians accused of incitement and hate speech against rival communities.
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