Ethiopia’s upcoming general election will be free and fair, the country’s president, Sahle-Work Zewde, assured lawmakers in the country on Monday.
Zewde made the vow in a speech she gave to a joint session of both houses of parliament, which have gone past their five-year term under a state of emergency due to the outbreak.
Ethiopia had postponed the 6th general elections that were scheduled to take place on August 29, 2020 mainly due to COVID-19. The horn of Africa nation is now set to hold the polls before September 2021.
The president told the parliamentarians that some reforms had been done on the electoral commission to ensure its independence.
“We managed to restructure the country’s electoral board in a way it can function independently,” Sahle-Work said.
Last year in her opening speech to the joint session of the Houses of Peoples’ Representatives and Federation, President Zewde had also expressed the government strong commitments towards a fair, free and credible election.
Indicating the importance of accommodating more diverse views in the parliament, she said the government and pertinent bodies are working around the clock to realize this core value of democracy.
Meanwhile, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) announced that it has prepared 90 percent of election materials required for the 6th round national general elections scheduled to take place in 2021.
In a media tour on October 3rd, the Board announced that more than 50 million voters are expected to participate in close to 51 thousand polling stations.
NEBE Board Chairperson, Birtukan Mideksa, told journalists that the necessary preparations are going well ahead as over 90 per cent of the materials required for the election are already at hand.
According to Birtukan, the Board has been working to hold credible and reliable elections using modern and standard materials, unlike the previous elections, and preparations are going smoothly in this regard.
NEBE Communications Advisor, Soliana Shemelis on her part said that all necessary preparations are going well as the Board has prepared ballot boxes, voters’ registration forms in five local languages and packaging materials to transport polling materials.
According to Soliana, a box containing 29 different items will be sent to each polling station. She added that a total of 644 small generators and more than 2,500 laptops and tablets would also be distributed to various constituencies.
In addition, Soliana said that 152, 700 people would be trained to conduct voters’ registrations while 254, 500 others that participate in managing the vote casting process receive training.
The board announced that its preparation is to make the election credible by using modern materials that meet international standards. NEBE on its social media page announced that it has completed all purchases except voters Id card.
Somalia’s President Farmaajo Urges US To Keep Troops In Country
Following reports President Donald Trump may remove US military presence from Somalia, the East African country’s leader has urged the American government to shelve the plan.
Somalian President Mohamed Farmaajo in a series of tweets on Friday sought to continue security cooperation with the U.S.
Earlier this week, media reports indicated that U.S. President Donald Trump had expressed the desire to withdraw U.S. troops from Somalia.
This will allow Trump to keep his campaign promises and return servicemen back home.
“The U.S. military support to Somalia has enabled us to effectively combat Al-Shabab and secure the Horn of Africa.
“A victory through this journey and for Somali-U.S. partnership can only be achieved through continuous security partnership and capacity building support,” Farmaajo said on Twitter.
The U.S. military has about 700 troops in Somalia – mostly from Special Operations forces – who have been helping local authorities to fight against Al-Shabab terrorist group.
Al-Shabab emerged in Somalia in 2006 and has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks throughout the region.
Al-Shabab has sworn allegiance to the Al-Qaeda terror group, which is banned in Russia.
In 2019, a report emerged that the U.S. was planning to reduce its military presence in the African country and reduce the intensity of airstrikes against Al-Shabab.
SADC To Observe Seychelles, Tanzania Elections Virtually
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) electoral observer mission will virtually observe the conduct of elections in Seychelles and Tanzania, an official has said.
Botswana’s Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Lemogang Kwape, who will be leading the two missions, disclosed this on Wednesday.
Kwape was appointed this week by President Mokgweetsi Masisi as the incumbent Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
Kwape’s appointment was in accordance with the regional bloc’s revised guidelines governing democratic elections.
“Our virtual observations will focus on the pre and post-elections periods which include the final stretch campaigns, voting day and the process of counting of the ballot papers,” said Kwape.
Seychelles will hold its presidential and national assembly elections from Oct. 22 to Oct. 24, while general elections of Tanzania will take place on Oct. 28.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and health protocols in the region, the observer missions will only consist of representatives from the SADC Organ Troika member states.
The member states including Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe as well as members of the SADC Electoral Advisory Council.
These representatives will be supported by the SADC Secretariat, according to a statement released by Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation early this week.
Kenyan Lawmaker To Face Murder Charge Over Election Violence
A Kenyan lawmaker will face prosecution on murder and assault charges over the killing of a man and injury of several other people during the Ganda Ward by-election in 2019.
The East African country’s Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) approved the charges against Malindi Member of Parliament, Aisha Jumwa, on Wednesday.
The lawmaker will be charged alongside her aide, Geoffrey Okuto Otieno.
The two are now set to undergo mental assessments next Wednesday before being charged in court.
The man was shot dead in a scuffle between rival Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party supporters in Ganda Ward in Malindi, Kilifi County, in October last year.
The incident occurred after Jumwa reportedly stormed a meeting of ODM agents at a house belonging to Reuben Katana, the ODM candidate and eventual winner of the by-election.
Jumwa allegedly demanded to know why such a meeting would be held at night after the campaign period had lapsed.
A scuffle ensued between her supporters and those of the candidate and the police fire teargas. One person was shot dead and several others injured.
Gumbao Jola, 48, died upon arrival at Malindi General Hospital. He was Katana’s uncle.
MP Jumwa was on October 16, 2019 arrested at her home in Kakuyuni, Malindi, over the incident before later being released.
Ms Jumwa denies being involved in the murder.
She says she was at the scene of the scuffle but insists she left, on the advice of the police, before the fatal shooting.
The murder charges come a few months after Jumwa was freed on Sh5 million bond after pleading not guilty to six counts of money laundering, acquiring proceeds of a crime, conflict of interest as well as fraud.
Jumwa, alongside six other people and a company, was accused of defrauding the Malindi CDF of Sh19 million.
The money was allegedly misappropriated during the construction of a school building.
She faced two charges of acquiring proceeds of a crime.
Jumwa was accused of receiving Sh2.5 million in her Cooperative bank on September 12, 2018, and Sh900,000 on August 17, 2018, from Multserve Contractors Limited.
The legislator is also accused of money laundering by unlawfully disposing of funds received from the NG-CDF by concealing the two transactions.
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