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Main opposition to boycott Republic of Congo elections

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The Republic of Congo’s main opposition party will boycott the March 21 elections in which President Denis Sassou Nguesso, in power for decades, is running for re-election.

The 77-year-old has held office for a total of 36 years, making him one of the longest-serving leaders in the world and head of a deeply poor nation.

The holding of the presidential election “must not divide us as it has done in the past”, said Pascal Tsaty Mabiala, first secretary of the opposition group Pan-African Union for Social Democracy (Upads).

“We have unanimously decided not to take part in it, either directly, or by a proxy candidate,” he added.

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Upads — the group of former president Pascal Lissouba, who died in France last August — is the only opposition party to have a parliamentary group in the current national assembly.

Lissouba was overthrown in a brief civil war in 1997 by Sassou Nguesso, who had lost the country’s first multi-party elections in 1992.

In 2015, the country staged a referendum on removing a 70-year age limit and a ban on presidents serving more than two terms.

The move paved the way for Sassou Nguesso to secure a third term in 2016 elections that were marred by bloodshed and claims of fraud.

His rivals, former general Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko and ex-minister Andre Okombi Salissa, disputed the results.

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They were arrested, put on trial and each handed 20 years in jail on charges of undermining state security.

The country is in the grip of a deep economic crisis, triggered by the slump in oil prices but worsened by long-standing debt and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Sudan’s military asks premier to form new government

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Tensions have risen in recent days between military and civilian members of the Sudanese transitional authority over the coup attempt last month.

Military members of Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council asked Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to form a new government to solve the marginalization crisis of tribes, local media reported Wednesday.

According to daily al-Sudani, unidentified informed sources said military members from the Council refused on Tuesday to meet a ministerial committee formed by Hamdok to address the crisis in eastern Sudan.

“The military members refused to meet the ministerial committee and asked to meet Hamdok alone before meeting any minister,” said the newspaper.

It also said members representing the army exerted pressure on Hamdok to dissolve the government in response to demands to form a new government by the head of the High Council of Beja, Muhammad al-Amin Turk.

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Tensions have risen in recent days between military and civilian members of the Sudanese transitional authority over the coup attempt last month.

The government has yet to comment on developments mentioned by the newspaper.

The Sudanese Council of Ministers decided Tuesday to form a committee, headed by Hamdok, to engage military members of the Sovereign Council to agree on “practical solutions” to the crisis.

Sudan is ruled by a civilian government and a Sovereign Council which consists of 14 members; five military representatives from the army, six civilians from the Forces for Freedom and Change Coalition and three members who were added in February to represent armed groups after a peace deal was signed with the government in October 2020.

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Demonstrators have since Sept. 17 blocked Khartoum’s airport, seaports and the main road between Khartoum and Port Sudan in protest of the peace deal with rebel groups, which Beja tribes in eastern Sudan say marginalizes the community.

The High Council of Beja Nazir has complained about marginalization in eastern regions and demanded the cancelation of the peace deal and the establishment of a national conference to approve development projects in the regions.

Since Aug. 21, 2019, Sudan has been in a 53-month transitional period that will end with elections in early 2024.

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Guinea coup leader sworn in as transitional leader

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The new interim president spoke of his "commitment" that neither he nor any member of the junta would stand in any future elections that the military have promised to organise after a transition period.

Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, who led last month’s coup in Guinea, was sworn in as interim president on Friday promising to respect all the West African state’s international commitments.

Doumbouya, who led the overthrow of president Alpha Conde on September 5, was sworn in by Supreme Court head Mamadou Sylla for a transition period of unspecified length.

The new interim president spoke of his “commitment” that neither he nor any member of the junta would stand in any future elections that the military have promised to organise after a transition period.

He said nothing at the time of his swearing in, by the supreme court head, about the duration of this transition.

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– ‘Consolidate democracy’ –

Wearing a beige dress uniform, red beret and dark glasses, the new national leader also vowed to “loyally preserve national sovereignty” and to “consolidate democratic achievements, guarantee the independence of the fatherland and the integrity of the national territory”.

The ceremony was held at the Mohammed-V palace in Conakry on the eve of a public holiday celebrating the 1958 declaration of independence from France.

Doumbouya will serve as transitional president until the country returns to civilian rule, according to a blueprint unveiled by the junta on Monday that does not mention a timeline.

The September 5 coup, the latest bout of turbulence in one of Africa’s most volatile countries, saw the overthrow of 83-year-old president Conde.

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Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015.

But last year he pushed through a controversial new constitution that allowed him to run for a third term in October 2020.

The move sparked mass demonstrations in which dozens of protesters were killed. Conde won re-election but the political opposition maintained the poll was a sham.

The “charter” unveiled on Monday vows that a new constitution will be drafted and “free, democratic and transparent” elections held, but does not spell out how long the transition will last.

The document says the transitional president will be “head of state and supreme chief of the armed forces… (and) determines the policies of the Nation,” with the power to name and fire an interim prime minister.

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However, the president will be barred from being a candidate at the elections that will take place after the transition, it says.

The turbulence in the former French colony has sparked deep concern among Guinea’s neighbours.

The coup is the second to take place in the region, after Mali, in less than 13 months.

The region’s bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is demanding that elections be held within six months, as well as Conde’s release.

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Guinea junta chief to be sworn in Friday as interim president

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The September 5 coup, the latest bout of turbulence in one of Africa's most volatile countries, saw the overthrow of 83-year-old president Alpha Conde. AFP

Mamady Doumbouya, a special forces colonel who led a coup in the West African state of Guinea on September, will be sworn in as interim president on Friday, the authorities say.

Doumbouya will be sworn in at noon (1200 GMT) at the Mohammed V conference centre in the capital Conakry, a communique read late Wednesday on national television said.

He will become transitional president, serving before the country returns to civilian rule, according to a blueprint unveiled by the junta on Monday that does not mention a timeline.

The September 5 coup, the latest bout of turbulence in one of Africa’s most volatile countries, saw the overthrow of 83-year-old president Alpha Conde.

ALSO READ:   Benin's opposition goes into hiding

Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015.

But last year he pushed through a controversial new constitution that allowed him to run for a third term in October 2020.

The move sparked mass demonstrations in which dozens of protesters were killed. Conde won re-election but the political opposition maintained the poll was a sham.

The “charter” unveiled on Monday vows that a new constitution will be drafted and “free, democratic and transparent” elections held, but does not spell out how long the transition will last.

The document says the transitional president will be “head of state and supreme chief of the armed forces… (and) determines the policies of the Nation,” with the power to name and fire an interim prime minister.

ALSO READ:   Uganda's Museveni extends 35-year rule with disputed election win

However, the president will be barred from being a candidate at the elections that will take place after the transition, it says.

The turbulence in the former French colony has sparked deep concern among Guinea’s neighbours.

The coup is the second to take place in the region, after Mali, in less than 13 months.

The region’s bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is demanding that elections be held within six months, as well as Conde’s release.

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