Category Archives: Business

Zimbabwe Human Rights Groups Condemn Post-Election Violence

Zimbabwean human rights activists on Thursday strongly condemned soldiers’ actions in post-election violence that left at least six people dead and 14 wounded in Harare, the capital, as the nation’s electoral commission promised that tensely awaited presidential poll results would be issued soon.

“There’s absolutely no skulduggery or anything untoward happening,” said Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairman Emmanuel Magade, when asked why the results had not yet been announced. Legally, officials said, they have until August 4 to release results, and promised they would do so “very soon.”

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa held firm, just hours before the announcement was due. Chamisa maintained that he had won.

“You can’t rig an election, or manipulate an election, and then use that as a basis of engagement,” he said. “That’s deceitful.”

When asked what he would do if the results did not come out in his favor, he said, “We’ll do a lot of things within the confines of legality and the constitution.” When asked if he had had any contact with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, as the president indicated on Twitter, Chamisa denied it.

“There’s no communication,” Chamisa said.

The president’s side also claimed victory.

“I know we have won the presidential election, but we will wait for the proper announcement of the results. Nevertheless, in the unlikely event that we do not win the presidential election, we will still request our supporters to accept the verdict of the people and allow Chamisa to take over,” said Paul Mangwana, spokesman for the ruling ZANU-PF party led by President Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa appeared to strike a conciliatory tone on Twitter, saying he would call for an investigation into the violence. In contradicting Chamisa, Mnangagwa also said, “We have been in communication with (presidential challenger) Nelson Chamisa to discuss how to immediately defuse the situation, and we must maintain this dialogue in order to protect the peace we hold dear.”

On Wednesday, hundreds of angry Chamisa supporters thronged the election commission. Protesters threw rocks as police fired back with tear gas and water cannon. Later, army vehicles rolled through the streets, and soldiers were seen beating and shooting at pedestrians.

The streets of central Harare, usually a hive of activity and a snarl of traffic, were eerily quiet Thursday morning as soldiers and police manned them and told shopkeepers to close early and go home. Police also surrounded opposition headquarters in central Harare, ratcheting up the tension even more.

On Wednesday, police announced that they had called in the army to assist in keeping order, invoking the controversial Public Order and Security Act. That act was used during previous elections under the iron-fisted rule of President Robert Mugabe, who held power for close to 40 years before resigning late last year.

Activist Jestina Mukoko, director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, described the soldiers’ response to the protests as “outrageous.”

“Reports indicated that the police were in control of the situation when military vehicles were observed driving into the central business district,” she said. “Gunshots were fired randomly throughout the central business district, and forum observers witnessed soldiers randomly firing live bullets and beating up bystanders who were not involved in the protest. The military’s conduct fell short of internationally accepted standards in controlling protesting crowds.”

Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the country’s leadership needs to do more than make statements.

“What is needed is a commitment that what happened yesterday will never happen again,” he said. “The statements may just be words loaded with promises, but the real issue is: what are they telling the soldiers that are on the street, what are they telling the police that are on the street in response to what is going to happen if citizens protest? What are the orders that are being given?”

Source: Voice of America

Djibouti Slams Call for End to Eritrea Sanctions

Djibouti, an increasingly strategic nation in the Horn of Africa, has condemned last week’s call by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed for the lifting of U.N. sanctions against Eritrea.

During his three-day visit to Eritrea’s capital last week, the Somali president urged an end to the economic sanctions and arms embargo that the U.N. Security Council imposed on Eritrea in 2009 for its alleged support of Islamist militant forces in Somalia.

Mohamed said lifting the sanctions would promote the economic integration of the Horn of Africa region.

Mohamed’s statement angered Djibouti, which says Eritrea is occupying the disputed Doumeira islands and is holding more than 10 Djiboutian prisoners.

In an interview with VOA’s Somali service, Djibouti’s ambassador to Somalia, Aden Hassan Aden, described the Somali president’s statement as deeply shocking.

As a sovereign state, there is no doubt that Somalia has the right to establish diplomatic relations with the countries in the region. However, it is unacceptable to see our brotherly Somalia supporting Eritrea, which is occupying part of our territory and still denying having Djiboutian prisoners, Aden said.

Djibouti hosts military bases for five countries: the United States, France, China, Japan and Italy.

The tiny nation is also one of five African countries with troops in AMISOM, the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia. The mission has protected Somali governments from attempted takeovers by Islamist militant forces for more than a decade.

Our boys in uniform who sacrifice their blood and life for peace in Somalia, whose brothers are held prisoners in Asmara, would not be happy to hear such a miscalculated statement from a Somali president, Aden said.

As part of a flurry of reforms and peacemaking efforts, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Eritrea last month to end a 20-year state of war between the countries.

Last week, Somalia’s president became the second head of state in the region to visit Eritrea.

Aden, the Djiboutian ambassador, said his country welcomed the diplomatic movements and talks in the Horn of Africa. But he emphasized that Djibouti’s conflict with Eritrea was unresolved.

Our president has no plans to visit Asmara unless Eritrea releases the Djiboutians it detains and withdraws from the territory it occupied, Aden said.

Source: Voice of America

Mali’s Third Candidate Claims Enough Support to Enter Runoff

As counting continues in Mali’s presidential election, a third candidate, Aliou Diallo, has claimed enough votes to enter a runoff with President Ibrahim Boubacar KeA�ta and his main challenger SoumaA�la Cisse. Meanwhile, the turnout has been disappointingly low � partly because of security concerns from Islamist militants in parts of the country.

While early indications point toward a runoff in Mali’s presidential election, a third candidate on Tuesday claimed enough votes to enter a second round.

A spokesman for gold magnate Aliou Diallo claimed he had come in second in Sunday’s election with enough votes for a run-off on August 12.

President Ibrahim Boubacar KeA�ta and his main challenger SoumaA�la Cisse had on Monday claimed to make it to a second round. KeA�ta’s campaign maintains he is in the lead.

Twenty-four candidates entered Sunday’s election to lead a nation suffering from lack of security and frequent attacks by Islamist militants.

The Mali Citizens Observation Pool noted violent incidents all over the country during voting. Its chief observer Ibrahim Sangho said those included voters angry at the absence of observers from opposition parties at polling stations, as reported in the capital. He also noted violent incidents in the regions of Mopti, Taoudenni, and Timbuktu.

The office of Mali Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye MaA�ga said Monday more than 700 polling stations, which were shut down, reported violent incidents, ranging from burning election material to attacks against election officials. But it added that this represents less than three percent of voting stations in Mali.

Mortar attacks near polling stations during Sunday’s election were blamed on Islamist militants. Nobody was injured in the attacks.

The violence contributed to a low voter turn-out, raising some questions about the legitimacy of whoever wins.

The Malian electorate has demonstrated its indifference, said voter Ahmed Traore.

He said there were no crowds, no queues, and that all had gone smoothly. But he said participation rate has not been what it should be, and that is also because people have not been collecting their voters cards.

Observers said voter turnout rates ranged from 20 percent in the northern city of Kidal to 44 percent in the Sikasso region in the southwest.

Turnout was estimated at about 30 percent in the capital, which was not expected to vote for KeA�ta.

It will be up to Mali’s Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization to call the election. The Constitutional Court then validates the results.

The court’s decisions have been controversial in the past � some observers say it is too close to the president.

Observation Pool President Mamadou Seydou Traore said the court’s decision must be motivated, based on the law and on jurisprudence. He said the Constitutional Court is the ultimate judge, so a good judgment would contribute to peace and social stability.

The European Union Observer Mission released a statement Tuesday saying the court should prove its transparency in any decisions. Mission leader Cecile Kyenge also called on the candidates to avoid announcing their own vote estimates before the electoral administration.

If no candidate wins more than half the votes, a runoff, planned for August 12, will be held.

Source: Voice of America

Mali’s Third Candidate Claims Enough Support to Enter Runoff

As counting continues in Mali’s presidential election, a third candidate, Aliou Diallo, has claimed enough votes to enter a runoff with President Ibrahim Boubacar KeA�ta and his main challenger SoumaA�la Cisse. Meanwhile, the turnout has been disappointingly low � partly because of security concerns from Islamist militants in parts of the country.

While early indications point toward a runoff in Mali’s presidential election, a third candidate on Tuesday claimed enough votes to enter a second round.

A spokesman for gold magnate Aliou Diallo claimed he had come in second in Sunday’s election with enough votes for a run-off on August 12.

President Ibrahim Boubacar KeA�ta and his main challenger SoumaA�la Cisse had on Monday claimed to make it to a second round. KeA�ta’s campaign maintains he is in the lead.

Twenty-four candidates entered Sunday’s election to lead a nation suffering from lack of security and frequent attacks by Islamist militants.

The Mali Citizens Observation Pool noted violent incidents all over the country during voting. Its chief observer Ibrahim Sangho said those included voters angry at the absence of observers from opposition parties at polling stations, as reported in the capital. He also noted violent incidents in the regions of Mopti, Taoudenni, and Timbuktu.

The office of Mali Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye MaA�ga said Monday more than 700 polling stations, which were shut down, reported violent incidents, ranging from burning election material to attacks against election officials. But it added that this represents less than three percent of voting stations in Mali.

Mortar attacks near polling stations during Sunday’s election were blamed on Islamist militants. Nobody was injured in the attacks.

The violence contributed to a low voter turn-out, raising some questions about the legitimacy of whoever wins.

The Malian electorate has demonstrated its indifference, said voter Ahmed Traore.

He said there were no crowds, no queues, and that all had gone smoothly. But he said participation rate has not been what it should be, and that is also because people have not been collecting their voters cards.

Observers said voter turnout rates ranged from 20 percent in the northern city of Kidal to 44 percent in the Sikasso region in the southwest.

Turnout was estimated at about 30 percent in the capital, which was not expected to vote for KeA�ta.

It will be up to Mali’s Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization to call the election. The Constitutional Court then validates the results.

The court’s decisions have been controversial in the past � some observers say it is too close to the president.

Observation Pool President Mamadou Seydou Traore said the court’s decision must be motivated, based on the law and on jurisprudence. He said the Constitutional Court is the ultimate judge, so a good judgment would contribute to peace and social stability.

The European Union Observer Mission released a statement Tuesday saying the court should prove its transparency in any decisions. Mission leader Cecile Kyenge also called on the candidates to avoid announcing their own vote estimates before the electoral administration.

If no candidate wins more than half the votes, a runoff, planned for August 12, will be held.

Source: Voice of America

Somalia, Eritrea Mend Ties as Change Sweeps Horn of Africa

The presidents of Somalia and Eritrea on Monday signed an agreement to establish diplomatic ties after over a decade of animosity, in the latest lightning rapprochement between Horn of Africa rivals.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s three-day visit to Asmara coincides with an extraordinary peace process between Eritrea and Ethiopia � part of dizzying change in a region burdened by war, proxy conflicts, isolation and iron-fisted rule.

“The two countries will establish diplomatic relations and exchange ambassadors,” read a “joint declaration on brotherly relations” signed in Asmara by Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and Mohamed.

The declaration came just three weeks after Ethiopia and Eritrea declared an end to two decades of conflict, rapidly restoring diplomatic ties and flights between their capitals.

The history of the three nations, and their fallouts, have been intertwined.

Somalia and Eritrea were once close. Under Somali dictator Siad Barre, the military regime in Mogagishu backed Eritrea’s long fight for independence from Ethiopia, which was attained in 1993.

In 1998, Ethiopia and Eritrea began a bloody two-year war over their shared border which left 80,000 dead before settling into a bitter cold war.

After the fall of Barre in 1991, Somalia fell into chaos.

By around 2006, it became the site of what observers called a proxy war between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Ethiopia backed a weak interim government in Mogadishu while Eritrea was accused of backing the Islamic militants fighting to overthrow it, a charge it denied.

The United Nations Security Council in 2009 imposed an arms embargo and targeted sanctions on Eritrea for its alleged support of the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants, which continue to launch regular deadly attacks despite losing territory in recent years.

The declaration placed special emphasis on its support for the Somali government.

“Eritrea strongly supports the political independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia as well as the efforts of the people and government of Somalia to restore the country’s rightful stature and achieve the lofty aspirations of its people,” it said. The document, posted on Eritrea’s information ministry website, also said the two nations “will endeavor to forge intimate political, economic, social, cultural as well as defense and security cooperation.”

They will, in addition, “work in unison to foster regional peace, stability and economic integration.”

End of ‘epoch of conflict’

At a state banquet on Sunday, Afwerki bemoaned the gloomy post-Cold War history of the Horn of Africa.

He said the region had been destroyed by “ethnic and clan cleavages” and “external pillage and internal thievery” in the speech which also lashed out at the “micromanagement of anarchy” by the United Nations and NGOs.

“Under these bleak realities, interventionist and expansionist regional agendas in the name of religion, cultural intoxication under various extremist ideologies, terrorism, piracy, human trafficking, as well as trade in weapons and narcotics became the new normal,” he said, according to a speech posted on the information ministry’s website.

“But this epoch of crises, conflict and instability is not inherently sustainable. As such, it is nearing its end. We are indeed entering a new, transitional phase.”

Ethiopia, which is undergoing lightning reforms under new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has already formally requested that sanctions be lifted against Eritrea.

And in the wake of Ethiopia’s peace with Eritrea, its other neighbor and rival Djibouti asked the U.N. Security Council for help mediating a long-standing border dispute that has soured relations with Asmara.

Source: Voice of America