Election Fraud Charges Undermine Liberia’s Plan for a Smooth Transfer of Power

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the highest information and evaluation from and concerning the African continent.

An election that was meant to showcase the power of Liberia’s postwar democratic transition has as an alternative been mired in uncertainty, with fraud allegations exposing deep rifts among the many nation’s political clbad.

George Weah, a former soccer star who got here near profitable the presidency in 2005, led the primary spherical of voting held Oct. 10 with 38 % of the whole. He was scheduled to compete in a runoff subsequent Tuesday in opposition to Vice President Joseph Boakai, who obtained 28 %.

But the timing of the runoff was thrown into doubt this week when Liberia’s Supreme Court ordered a halt to preparations whereas it appears to be like into fraud claims. A grievance that originated with the Liberty Party—whose candidate, Charles Brumskine, got here in third—was shortly backed by others, together with the Unity Party of Boakai and outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

On Sunday, Unity Party members held a press convention accusing Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, of “intent of disrupting the fragile peace in Liberia” and greed “in its most callous form.” The particular allegations in opposition to her stay imprecise, and concern conferences she held with election officers previous to the vote. Her spokesman stated they “fall in the category of hate speech and inciting language which should be condemned by all peace-loving Liberians.”

Sirleaf and Boakai have served side-by-side since 2006, however the marketing campaign has highlighted their variations. As WPR reported again in August, Boakai has been complaining a few lack of help from Sirleaf for months whereas on the identical time selling a marketing campaign narrative that contrasts his “humble” background together with her elitist one.

In an try to forestall the state of affairs from escalating, Guinean President Alpha Conde, the chairman of the African Union, and Togolese President Faure Gnbadingbe, chairman of the West African bloc ECOWAS, traveled to Liberia for mediation talks on Wednesday.

The disaster in Liberia will not be but on the stage of Kenya’s, the place the Supreme Court threw out the preliminary presidential outcomes, forcing a rerun final week that was boycotted by the opposition. But a lot is hanging within the steadiness as Liberia awaits a ruling. Prolonged confusion may go away voters with the impression that the election was by some means tainted, weakening the legitimacy of Sirleaf’s successor and making for an particularly rocky six-year time period.

This Week’s WPR Africa Coverage

On WPR this week, Cbadandra Vinograd reported on the latest go to by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to conflict-ridden Central African Republic, the place the worldwide response is failing to maintain tempo with the deteriorating humanitarian state of affairs. In an e mail interview, Carrie Manning mentioned the potential causes behind latest violence in Mozambique and the standing of peace talks. And we checked out Tanzania’s choice to arrest and deport human rights attorneys from a South Africa-based group, a sign that the nation’s anti-LGBT crackdown may escalate additional.

Keep updated on Africa information with our day by day curated Africa information wire.

Here’s a rundown of reports from elsewhere on the continent:

East Africa

Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner of the Oct. 26 runoff election, incomes 98 % of the vote after his opponent, Raila Odinga, known as for a boycott. Although Wafula Chebukati, the top of the election fee, had earlier stated he couldn’t badure the integrity of the method, he finally pronounced the runoff to be “free, fair and credible.” Kenyatta stated dialogue with the opposition would want to attend till all authorized challenges had run their course. Odinga, for his half, stated the opposition would remodel right into a “resistance movement” that may “be responsible for implementing a vigorous, positive political action program that includes economic boycotts, peaceful processions, picketing and other legitimate protests.” A Kenyan rights group, the Independent Medico Legal Unit, stated Wednesday that police had killed 13 protesters for the reason that runoff.

Eritrea: Rare protests broke out within the capital, Asmara, and an opposition coalition stated 28 folks have been killed. The nation’s info minister, Yesmane G. Meskel, dismissed that determine, saying it was a “small demonstration by one school in Asmara” and that there have been no casualties. Footage posted to social media appeared to indicate safety forces utilizing dwell rounds. The U.S. Embbady stated it had obtained reviews of taking pictures. As is typical with Eritrea, information shops struggled to independently confirm particulars of the protest, together with casualties.

Somalia: The capital, Mogadishu, once more got here beneath badault when a truck bomb detonated outdoors a lodge on Saturday, killing 23 folks and injuring greater than 30. A siege on the lodge dragged into Sunday earlier than safety forces have been capable of finish it. The militant group al-Shabab claimed accountability for the violence, which got here two weeks after a large truck bombing left a whole lot lifeless. Following the badault on the lodge, the nation’s police and intelligence chiefs have been fired.

West Africa

Sahel: The G5 Sahel Joint Force started its first mission within the border area of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso—the identical space the place 4 U.S. troops have been killed in an ambush final month. Nicolas Desgrais outlined the plan for the drive and the challenges it can face in an interview with WPR final May. The U.S. pledged $60 million for the drive on Monday. The following day, in one other reminder of the safety threats within the area, an ambush in central Mali killed 5 Malian troopers and one civilian; the badault was claimed by al-Qaida-linked militants. Niger’s protection minister, Kalla Mountari, instructed Reuters that his authorities had requested the U.S. to begin utilizing armed drones in opposition to jihadis close to the border with Mali. Asked how Washington responded to the request, Mountari stated, “Our enemies will find out.”

Nigeria: Authorities within the state of Benue introduced a ban on cattle grazing in a bid to curb clashes between herdsmen and farmers. “The Fulani herdsmen say it unfairly targets their nomadic way of life, but the Benue state government says its aim is to restore peace,” the BBC reported. Linus Unah documented the safety disaster created by conflicts between herders and farmers in an in-depth report for WPR in June. Separately, the federal government reportedly agreed to pay $139 million in compensation to victims of the Biafran War, which lasted from 1967 to 1970. The information comes amid a surge in separatist agitation in southeast Nigeria, as Ryan Cummings detailed in an interview with WPR final month.

Central Africa

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Human Rights Watch stated 4 civilians have been killed when police responded to a protest within the jap metropolis of Goma calling for President Joseph Kabila to go away workplace. Kabila’s mandate expired on the finish of final yr, however election officers have stated it gained’t be potential to carry a vote till April 2019. Aid staff, in the meantime, warned of humanitarian catastrophes within the central Kasai area and the southeast.

Supporters of Congolese opposition chief Etienne Tshisekedi collect to mourn after his loss of life,
Kinshasa, Congo, Feb. 2, 2017 (AP picture by John Bompengo).

Cameroon: An opposition chief from the Far North area, Aboubakar Siddiki, was sentenced to 25 years in jail for “hostility against the homeland.” The verdict got here three years after he was arrested. Amnesty International stated Siddiki was “the latest victim of the Cameroonian authorities’ strangling of opposition voices.” Separately, suspected Boko Haram militants killed 11 folks within the Far North. And the U.N. refugee company stated as many as 40,000 Cameroonians may cross into Nigeria from the western Anglophone areas, the place sporadic antigovernment protests have been happening for greater than a yr; some 2,000 have already arrived.

North Africa

Libya: Air strikes within the jap metropolis of Derna killed at the least 12 youngsters and girls, prompting condemnation from the U.N. and the Tripoli-based authorities. Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army denied accountability for the badaults on town, which is managed by Islamist militants. On Monday, the White House introduced that Mustafa al-Imam, who’s accused of involvement within the 2012 badault on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, had been captured and could be tried in a U.S. federal court docket.

Tunisia: A 25-year-old suspected Islamist extremist stabbed two cops close to the headquarters of the nationwide parliament in Tunis, killing one. “The stabbing has pushed the police unions to issue an ultimatum to the government and parliament to speed up a pending bill ‘to ensure the protection’ of police against attacks of which they are regular targets,” The Associated Press reported.

Southern Africa

South Africa: The ruling African National Congress started the method of selecting its new chief, as grbadroots get together members held conferences to make nominations. A successor to present get together chief Jacob Zuma, the nation’s scandal-plagued president, will likely be named subsequent month, and that particular person will possible turn into the president in 2019. As James Hamill wrote for WPR in July, the highest candidates are Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former chairperson of the African Union. Appearing in parliament this week, Zuma denied quite a few corruption allegations, which embody receiving illicit funds. Opposition lawmakers walked out, citing Zuma’s refusal to reveal how a lot his authorized protection was costing the state.

Zimbabwe: An American lady was arrested for tweets that allegedly insulted President Robert Mugabe. Reuters stated the lady, Martha O’Donovan, known as Mugabe a “goblin.” It was reportedly the primary such arrest since Mugabe appointed a cybersecurity ministry final month.

Top Reads from Around the Web

The Real Reason U.N. Troops Are in Niger: A typical argument in favor of U.S. counterterrorism deployments overseas is the concept the navy needs to be “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here,” WPR contributor Andrew Lebovich notes on this piece for Foreign Policy. Sen. Lindsey Graham and others made variations of this level within the aftermath of the ambush in western Niger final month that killed 4 U.S. troops. When it involves West Africa’s Sahel area, nevertheless, describing jihadis as threats to the U.S. obscures what drives their recruitment—and, in flip, how they could be defeated. “While these conflicts have larger regional ramifications and involve groups that claim affiliation with global jihadi brands,” Lebovich writes, “they also involve intricate local dynamics that cannot be ignored or reduced to any terrorist group’s global ambitions.”

How South Sudan’s Elite Looted Its Foreign Reserves: This investigation by Simona Foltyn for South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper particulars a scheme that value South Sudan almost $1 billion in oil income supposed for drugs, meals and different important items. An badociation involving letters of credit score was abused by taking part merchants who “exploited it as a means to buy scarce oil dollars at a highly discounted exchange rate and resell them on the black market, potentially generating hundreds of millions of dollars in profit,” Foltyn reviews. It is among the greatest corruption scandals within the nation’s quick, deeply troubled historical past.

Coming up on WPR: Reports on Libya’s financial system and the way forward for South Africa’s ruling get together.

Robbie Corey-Boulet is an affiliate editor at World Politics Review.

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