Jonathan receives Certificate of Return from INEC


PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has collected his Certificate of Return, following his declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
as the winner of last Saturday’s presidential election.

It was given to him during a short ceremony on Tuesday at the Commission’s Airport Road Collation Centre in Abuja by the Chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, who also presented a Certificate of Return to Vice-President Namadi Sambo for his emergence as the vice-president-elect.

In his remarks on the occasion, the president commended Professor Jega and his team for conducting a credible election that had been praised by both local and international observers, saying the success of the exercise was the beginning of good governance in the country.

According to him, “we really have to commend INEC. Professor Jega and his team have made Nigeria proud. Before now the international observers used to paint our elections in tainted colours but this year’s elections, first, that of the National Assembly and then the presidential, the information we have received and what we have read in the papers is that they have given us a pass mark.

“It has to be so because of the competence of INEC officers and the position of not compromising your independence. We thank you. All Nigerians are happy because you have placed us on higher rung of the ladder and others have seen us as people who conduct credible elections.

“This is the beginning of good governance. This is the beginning of economic development. This is the beginning of major changes in this country,” he said.

While thanking God for the grace to conduct the election, President Jonathan hoped that the next leg of the exercise would be better than the last two, saying, “we hope that, by the grace of God, the last leg of election coming on the 26th will be better than the presidential election. We thank God. It is God that made it possible. If it is man, it wouldn’t have been possible.”

He commended Nigerians for coming out en masse to participate in the exercise and for their cooperation with government and INEC, as well as for voting for him, saying that it was a clear demonstration of their patriotism.

Commenting on the riots in parts of the North over the election outcome, Jonathan said the development was regrettable, coming against the background of commendation from international observers who witnessed the election, but added that his administration would, in the next four years, focus on issues like that to prevent recurrence.

“It is regrettable that when international observers are commending us for credible elections, we witnessed some skirmishes in parts of the country. It is really regrettable. This is what happened in the late 50’s when some parts of the country witnessed things like this. But that is what the new generation leaders have to face.

“We will make sure that in the next four years, issues like this will not lead to riot. We assure Nigerians we will carry everyone along. We will run an open government where all Nigerians will play a key role, irrespective of party affiliations,” he said.

The president also addressed the issue of victims of the violence in the riots in the North and said that the government would take inventory of the lost properties, provide assistance for victims’ families and ensure that it would never happen again.

He called on religious and political leaders to condemn the riots, saying that government would work towards providing jobs for the nation’s unemployed youths, to prevent them from being used by unscrupulous politicians.

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BOTSWANA VOTES


Voters in Botswana are going to the polls amid a deep recession in the world’s largest diamond producer.

The global slowdown means gem sales have fallen and some Botswana diamond mines closed earlier this year.

However, President Ian Khama is expected to be returned to office as the opposition is divided.

Botswana is seen as one of Africa’s most stable and democratic countries, even though only one party has been in power since independence in 1966.

The son of Botswana’s first president, Mr Khama faces his first democratic test since becoming Botswana Democratic Party leader some 18 months ago.

He is credited with being decisive but also criticised for being dogmatic.

BBC southern Africa correspondent Karen Allen says Botswana’s over-dependence on diamonds for its export earnings and tax revenIAN KHAMAues, as well as jobs and human rights will all be issues that influence voters.

Recent moves to slap a 30% levy on alcohol, clamp down on the media and impose strict discipline on party dissidents has led to criticism that President Khama is too authoritarian, our correspondent adds.

Mr Khama, 56, has roundly dismissed the charges, and says he is just a man motivated by delivery.

Splits within the ruling party are expected to see its overall support base decline, but the opposition is equally fractured.

Mr Khama’s Botswana Democratic Party won 44 of the 57 seats at the last election in 2004.

The other seats were won by the main opposition Botswana National Front and the Botswana Congress Party.

A party needs at least 29 seats to be able to choose the president.

Some 725,000 voters are registered from a population of 1.9 million people

SOURCED FROM BBC

NIGER’S MILITARY VOTE IN REFERENDUM TO EXTEND PRESIDENT TANDJA’S TENURE


Niger’s military is set to vote in a referendum on President Mamadou Tandja’s bid to serve a third term.

The government says the soldiers are voting early so they can ensure the safety of the rest of the people, who will go to the polls on Tuesday.

Earlier, opposition groups reiterated they would boycott the vote, which they have described a coup d’etat.

Mr Tandja has recently dissolved parliament and the constitutional court to push through his referendum plan.

He says the people of Niger want him to stay in power, and his actions reflect their will.

But his efforts have caused widespread protests in Niger and sparked international condemnation

Reports from the country said huge posters of Mr Tandja were plastered throughout the capital, Niamey, and other main cities.

State media has been calling on voters to say “yes” to changing the constitution so the 71-year-old president can stay in office.

The move would allow him an initial three-year term, and then he would be able to run for re-election with no term limits.

The BBC’s Idy Baraou in Niamey says the referendum is asking the people to vote yes if they want the betterment of their life, and a better tomorrow.

The AFP news agency reported that opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou launched a final appeal on Sunday for “mobilisation to cause the illegal referendum to fail”.

SOURCED FROM BBC


SOUTH AFRICA SET FOR WEEK OF STRIKES


South Africa is bracing itself for a week in which bus, train and municipal workers are all set to go on strike.

The industrial action will see more than 160,000 people stop work in support of claims for higher wages.

This is the latest in a series of challenges for South Africa’s new President Jacob Zuma, who has called for understanding from workers.zuma

There were violent demonstrations in several townships last week, during which some 200 people were arrested.

It is proving to be a cold and difficult winter for Jacob Zuma.

Just two months after taking power, he is facing South Africa’s first recession since the end of apartheid.

Crowd-pleasing promises are proving hard to keep.

An early pledge to create 500,000 new jobs has already been retracted and demonstrations in the townships turned violent this month over long-held grievances about the delivery of services and housing.

As if that wasn’t enough, this is strike season.

On Monday, 150,000 municipal employees responsible for, among other things, rubbish collection and the city police will refuse to work after being denied a 15% wage increase.

A separate strike by transport workers will see most train and bus services grind to a halt.

Several other unions say they are considering their options.

SOURCED FROM BBC

RAILA ODINGA: CABINET IS UNITED IN POST ELECTION COURT


Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga told lawmakers on Wednesday there were no splits in the coalition government’s cabinet about how to deal with perpetrators of last year’s post-poll violence. raila odinga

How to deal with the masterminds of the bloodshed has worried markets, donors and Kenyans alike. The cabinet has twice postponed a decision on whether to try suspects locally or at the Hague-based International Criminal Court.

“There is no stalemate in the cabinet on the issue of post-election violence. There were no disagreements. It is a matter of extensive and intensive consultations, and I am sure the cabinet will reach an agreement,” he said.

Locals and Western governments are pushing the authorities to punish the suspects of the worst bloodshed in the east Africa nation’s post-independence history that killed at least 1,300 people and displaced 300,000.

Crisis mediator Kofi Annan handed over an envelope with the names of 10 suspects to ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo this month, increasing the pressure on the shaky coalition.

Analysts and some legislators say the delay was a sign that cracks in the cabinet were deepening and that matters are further complicated since some ministers are probably suspects.

In a stormy session in parliament, some legislators accused the cabinet of playing political games.

SOURCED FROM REUTERS

SUDAN ACCEPTS OIL BORDER TOWN RULING


North and south Sudan say they accept a border ruling by judges in The Hague that gives a big oilfield to the north.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration has redrawn the boundaries of Abyei region, which became a flashpoint during a 22-year-long war between north and south.sudan

The judges decided not to abide by the borders proposed after the 2005 peace deal, which the north had rejected.

Instead it ruled that several areas – including the Heglig oilfied – were not part of Abyei.

Although The Hague court was deciding where Abyei’s borders lay rather than who owned the land, analysts say the ruling was crucial in determining the ownership of the oilfields.

Abyei’s inhabitants will be asked in a referendum in 2011 whether they want to be a part of north or south Sudan – and analysts say they are likely to opt for a union with the south.

By reducing the size of Abyei compared with the 2005 proposals, the court has effectively awarded more land and mineral wealth to the north.

The BBC’s James Copnall in the capital, Khartoum, says the reaction on the ground to the judges’ ruling will be a key test of the peace between north and south.

SOURCED FROM BBC

MAURITANIA’S LEADER VOWS TO TACKLE TERROR


Gen Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz has vowed to tackle terrorism, as well as its causes, after being declared the winner of Saturday’s presidential election.

Gen Abdelaziz, who came to power in a coup last year, said the army would be strengthened.

Al-Qaeda’s North African cell has claimed several attacks in Mauritania – a US man was killed last month.

Gen Abdelaziz, who denied the election had been rigged, said fighting poverty and ignorance would also be priorities.

On Sunday officials announced he had won the poll outright, with 52% of the vote.

Even before the results were announced, his challengers said the outcome had been “prefabricated” and called for an international inquiry.

But the general challenged the opposition to provide evidence to back up their claims.

“Whatever [they] say, our camp did not engage in fraud,” he said.

“It’s not enough just to say there has been fraud – you have to provide proof.”

In his first news conference after being declared the winner, Gen Abdelaziz said he took the threat of terrorism seriously.

“We need to fight terrorism in terms of security but also by improving the living conditions of the people and fighting ignorance.”

Earlier, one of the main opposition candidates, Messaoud Ould Boulkheir, told a news conference: “The results which are starting to come out show that it is an electoral charade which is trying to legitimise the coup.”

A statement from the group of four challengers read: “We firmly reject these prefabricated results, secondly we call on the international community to put in place an inquiry to shed some light on the electoral process.”

Mr Boulkheir, the outgoing speaker of parliament, came second with 16% of the vote, while veteran opposition leader Ahmed Ould Daddah came third with 14%, according to the official results.

Voter turnout was 61%, the election commission said.

Fighting terrorism had also been one of Gen Abdelaziz’s justifications for staging the August 2008 coup, which ousted Mauritania’s only democratically elected leader Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.

He had been in power for less than a year and a half.

Last year’s Paris-Dakar rally was cancelled after the killing of a family of French tourists in Mauritania.

SOURCED FROM BBC