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SIERRA LEONE GENERAL ELECTIONS 2018: COMMONWEALTH OBSERVER GROUP INTERIM STATEMENT 07 March 2018

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Statement by:HE John Dramani Mahama, Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group to Sierra Leone
This is the Interim Statement of the Commonwealth Observer Group,and it is issued with the results process yet to be formally completed.
The Commonwealth Observer Group commends the people of Sierra Leone for the peaceful and orderly manner you went about the voting process on 7 March 2018. The Group has been present in Sierra Leone since 28th February.
Ahead of Election Day,we met with a broad range of stakeholders to gain a comprehensive picture of the electoral processes and environment.We met with the National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (NEC),political parties,civil society, including women and youth groups, media representatives, the Office of National Security, Commonwealth
High Commissioners and other national and international election observer missions.
 
 
Download full Statement here  Commonwealth Observers PDF

PRESS RELEASE: EMERGING ISSUES ON KENYA’S FRESH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: OUR CONCERNS

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The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), a think tank organization working towards enhancing sustainability of democracy and development in West Africa, has been painstakingly observing the electoral process in Kenya in the lead up to the 8 August 2017 and unfolding events after the Supreme Court judgement of 1 September 2017. The Supreme Court decision on the results of the presidential election, which saw the people of Kenya voting in their fifth presidential election since the end of the one-party state in 1991, is a watershed in the history of elections in Kenya and Africa at large and worth emulating by all countries committed to deepening electoral process and democratic governance in the continent.
Since the annulment of the presidential election results by the Chief Justice David Maraga-led judicial team on 1st September 2017, we have observed a series of fiery speeches by groups of politicians, especially the incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta, against the judiciary. While we commend Mr Uhuru Kenyatta’s call on loyalists and supporters of Jubilee Alliance Party to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner in the wake of the Supreme Court judgement, we absolutely condemn his unwarranted attacks against the judges; referring to them as Wakora (meaning “crooks/thugs” in Swahili). This is entirely unacceptable, especially coming from a presidential candidate of a respected nation like Kenya.
The judiciary has an important role to play in protecting the sanctity of democracy; its core principles and fundamentals. Effective performance of this responsibility predicates on its independence from the executive and the uprightness of the occupants of the office. This judgement is apparently unprecedented in Africa and is a beacon of hope for the continent on the role of the judiciary in reclaiming the people’s stolen mandate. This exceptional decision should be applauded and taken as a step towards rebuilding failing institutions for better democratic outcomes. We stand by the judgement of the Supreme Court and implore all concerned parties including the candidates, the electoral body, security institutions, citizens and other stakeholders to respect the institution and independence of the judiciary and work towards peaceful fresh election on 17th October 2017.
What is also worrying for us is that politicians are over heating the political system with the recent condemnations. A lawmaker was quoted as referring to the head of the opposition, Raila Odinga, as ‘a demon…[who] needs to be whipped by a man and whipped by a woman…’ More so, according to a news report, the opposition leader also called the President a drunk. Such unacceptable language may heavily deepen ethnic divides that have characterised elections in Kenya and, if politicians continue to toll this line, it may be counter-productive to the conduct of peaceful fresh election. Hate and dangerous speech must be avoided in the build-up to the election.
 
More so, the ability of IEBC to learn from experience of earlier conducted presidential elections and put in place corrective measures ahead of the fresh election would go a long way in building trust of different parties in the electoral process. NASA and Jubilee Alliance Party have raised several concerns about preparedness of the electoral umpire for the fresh election. Recently, the media is replete with reports on internal squabbles among IEBC Commissioners. A confidential internal memo allegedly written by IEBC Chairman, Mr Wafula Chebukati, to CS/CEO Ezra Chiloba demanding answers to why some forms printed by Al Ghurair had no security features, among others, has generated concerns to institute necessary measures for a free, fair and transparent poll ahead of the fresh election.
While we applaud efforts by IEBC to strengthen the process such as the decision to include members of the two political parties in its IT team, it is important that it does more to ensure that adequate measures are put in place to address and avoid the alleged irregularities and malpractices emerging from the last election. The members of the electoral body who allegedly perpetuate irregularities and illegalities in the transmission of the election results should be thoroughly investigated and, if found wanting, held accountable for such acts and abuse of trust. We also call on the electoral body to adhere strictly to the letters of the law in the conduct of the election.
We also call on people of Kenya, regardless of who they support, to harness the opportunities the recent happenings created; particularly the supreme court ruling on the last presidential election, to further support the consolidation and sustainability of democracy in Kenya. They should continue to shun acts of violence and strongly exercise their civic responsibility by voting for the candidate of their choice on 17 October 2017.
 
Signed:
Idayat Hassan
Director

No Referendum, No Election: Biafra Agitation and the Boycott of the 2017 Anambra State Governorship Election

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The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have threatened to stop the November 18, Anambra Governorship Election.  The IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu had earlier posited that unless the Nigerian State calls for a referendum to determine the status of the country, there would be no election in Anambra State. In series of press interviews and YouTube videos, Kanu insisted that the November Anambra election would not hold. It is important to point out that the agitation for the Sovereign State of Biafra never died since the end of the civil war in 1970. The agitation is not unconnected to a perceived skewed distribution of resources and opportunities in the country since the end of the civil war in 1970.
The opportunity to return the Biafra issue to the political front burner was provided immediately the country returned to democracy in 1999 when the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) was launched under the leadership of Ralph Nwazurike.
The strong resurgence for the Sovereign State of Biafra received a fillip immediately after President Buhari’s address at the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) on July 22, 2015. In his response to a participant on how he would bring development to the oil-rich Niger Delta region in the south that has suffered decades of environmental degradation due to oil spills and oil bunkering, he remarked that:
“I hope you have a copy of the election results, Naturally, the constituencies that gave me 97 percent cannot, in all honesty, be treated in the same way on some issues with constituencies that gave me five percent” (Aljazeera 30 May, 2017).
This statement was interpreted to refer to the South East where he got five percent of the presidential votes. Although President Buhari went on to say that the principles of federal character should prevail, his initial statement was taken as a political testament. Immediately after the speech, Pro-Biafra movements such as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Biafra Independent Movement (BIM), Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), and People of Biafra Rebranded (IPOBR) all re-emerged with a strengthened call for self-determination and the independence of Biafra.