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Cameroon probes deadly unrest in restive Anglophone region
13 October 2017, 2:16 PM

Cameroon has launched a probe into recent deadly violence linked to a symbolic declaration of independence in the west African nation’s English-speaking region, the defence minister said Friday.

“Apart from the material damage, precise enquiries have been opened by judicial authorities on the toll,” Defence Minister Joseph Beti Assomo said on state radio.

According to an AFP tally, 14 people died in violence in the run-up to the symbolic October 1 declaration of independence of Ambazonia, the name of the state the separatists want to create.

However, Amnesty International has given a toll of 17.

Cameroonian authorities have said that security forces did not open fire during the demonstrations.

Assomo had on Thursday visited Buea, the main city in the English-speaking southwest region, where he headed a meeting to review security.

Cameroon’s anglophone-francophone rift dates back to 1961 when the British-administered Southern Cameroons united with Cameroon after its independence from France in 1960.

The English speakers complain they have suffered decades of economic inequality and social injustice at the hands of the French-speaking majority.

Anglophones account for about a fifth of the 22 million population.

Friday 13 October 2017 14:16

AFP

Cameroon probes deadly unrest in restive Anglophone region
13 October 2017, 2:16 PM

Cameroon has launched a probe into recent deadly violence linked to a symbolic declaration of independence in the west African nation’s English-speaking region, the defence minister said Friday.

“Apart from the material damage, precise enquiries have been opened by judicial authorities on the toll,” Defence Minister Joseph Beti Assomo said on state radio.

According to an AFP tally, 14 people died in violence in the run-up to the symbolic October 1 declaration of independence of Ambazonia, the name of the state the separatists want to create.

However, Amnesty International has given a toll of 17.

Cameroonian authorities have said that security forces did not open fire during the demonstrations.

Assomo had on Thursday visited Buea, the main city in the English-speaking southwest region, where he headed a meeting to review security.

Cameroon’s anglophone-francophone rift dates back to 1961 when the British-administered Southern Cameroons united with Cameroon after its independence from France in 1960.

The English speakers complain they have suffered decades of economic inequality and social injustice at the hands of the French-speaking majority.

Anglophones account for about a fifth of the 22 million population.

– By AFP

Weah and Boakai ahead in Liberia election partial results
13 October 2017, 6:39 AM

Liberian presidential candidates George Weah and Vice-President Joseph Boakai dominated partial tallies released by the country’s electoral commission on Thursday, but the results showed the vast majority of votes are yet to be counted.

Political parties have expressed concern over polling-day hitches on Tuesday that have caused significant delays to the results, with one party calling for a halt to the ballot counting.

Weah and Boakai are expected to top the first round of voting, according to analysts, though former Coca-Cola executive

Alexander Cummings is considered to have eaten into their support with an innovative campaign strategy.

The only county with more than 30 % of votes counted — Bong county — showed Boakai and Weah neck-and-neck with a slight advantage on Weah’s side.

Weah was also leading in Montserrado county, his stronghold, which although just 14.8 percent of ballots have been counted dwarfs Liberia’s other counties in representing 778 000 voters.

If no candidate wins over 50% of the presidential vote nationwide, a run-off between the top two contenders will be held on November 7 — an outcome deemed a near certainty.

Jerome Korkoya, NEC Chair, said the commission was “committed to the release of timely results but this cannot be done at the expense of accuracy,” after foreign observers began to apply pressure over the long wait.

“This commission has not declared any winner,” Korkoya added, saying the results remained too partial to declare a runoff.

Korkoya also hit out at false reports including a tweet by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger that Weah had already been declared the winner.

“Reports going around that somebody or some people have already been elected, we are not aware of that,” the NEC chairman said.

The chair of the Liberty Party, whose candidate is not expected to make the run-off round, on Thursday urged the “NEC to immediately halt further announcements of election results.”

“If NEC does not cooperate with our request, we will take the appropriate legal action,” the party’s chairman, Ben Sanvee, said.

Turnout for Liberia’s first democratic transfer of power in seven decades was exceptionally high, the NEC has suggested.
Given the delays, the European Union observer mission had urged the NEC to be as open as possible about the details of the final results.

“In order for the final result to be credible, the Liberian authorities will have to show the greatest transparency regarding the handling of the result for the polling stations until the validation,” the chief observer of the EU’s Election Observation Mission, Maria Arena, told journalists in Monrovia.

She also called on the authorities to ensure that “potential complaints are handled with the utmost impartiality” in a tense environment.

The Carter Center, an NGO founded by former US president Jimmy Carter, said “prompt release of results” would help in “building confidence among the electorate and preventing confusion and tension.”

– By AFP

Weah and Boakai ahead in Liberia election partial results
13 October 2017, 6:39 AM

Liberian presidential candidates George Weah and Vice-President Joseph Boakai dominated partial tallies released by the country’s electoral commission on Thursday, but the results showed the vast majority of votes are yet to be counted.

Political parties have expressed concern over polling-day hitches on Tuesday that have caused significant delays to the results, with one party calling for a halt to the ballot counting.

Weah and Boakai are expected to top the first round of voting, according to analysts, though former Coca-Cola executive

Alexander Cummings is considered to have eaten into their support with an innovative campaign strategy.

The only county with more than 30 % of votes counted — Bong county — showed Boakai and Weah neck-and-neck with a slight advantage on Weah’s side.

Weah was also leading in Montserrado county, his stronghold, which although just 14.8 percent of ballots have been counted dwarfs Liberia’s other counties in representing 778 000 voters.

If no candidate wins over 50% of the presidential vote nationwide, a run-off between the top two contenders will be held on November 7 — an outcome deemed a near certainty.

Jerome Korkoya, NEC Chair, said the commission was “committed to the release of timely results but this cannot be done at the expense of accuracy,” after foreign observers began to apply pressure over the long wait.

“This commission has not declared any winner,” Korkoya added, saying the results remained too partial to declare a runoff.

Korkoya also hit out at false reports including a tweet by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger that Weah had already been declared the winner.

“Reports going around that somebody or some people have already been elected, we are not aware of that,” the NEC chairman said.

The chair of the Liberty Party, whose candidate is not expected to make the run-off round, on Thursday urged the “NEC to immediately halt further announcements of election results.”

“If NEC does not cooperate with our request, we will take the appropriate legal action,” the party’s chairman, Ben Sanvee, said.

Turnout for Liberia’s first democratic transfer of power in seven decades was exceptionally high, the NEC has suggested.
Given the delays, the European Union observer mission had urged the NEC to be as open as possible about the details of the final results.

“In order for the final result to be credible, the Liberian authorities will have to show the greatest transparency regarding the handling of the result for the polling stations until the validation,” the chief observer of the EU’s Election Observation Mission, Maria Arena, told journalists in Monrovia.

She also called on the authorities to ensure that “potential complaints are handled with the utmost impartiality” in a tense environment.

The Carter Center, an NGO founded by former US president Jimmy Carter, said “prompt release of results” would help in “building confidence among the electorate and preventing confusion and tension.”

Friday 13 October 2017 06:39

AFP

Liberia heads to presidential elections
8 October 2017, 8:11 AM

Liberia, which elects a new president on Tuesday, is an English-speaking nation in West Africa that is still scarred by a gruesome civil war and a devastating Ebola outbreak.

Here is a snapshot of the country:

Sunday 8 October 2017 08:11

In 1822 the United States starts sending freed black slaves to a part of West Africa that eventually becomes Liberia.

The new arrivals declare independence in 1847, establishing the first republic in Africa.

Descendants of former slaves run the country until the assassination in 1980 of President William Tolbert in a coup led by Samuel Doe, who establishes an authoritarian and corrupt regime.

Doe is captured in 1990, at the height of civil war, and tortured to death by men loyal to warlord Prince Johnson, one of the candidates in Tuesday’s election.

The National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) of Charles Taylor launches a rebellion in December 1989 in the northeast that quickly takes control of most of the country but not the capital, Monrovia.

The civil war involves seven rival factions until it ends under a peace accord in 1997.

In the elections that follow, Taylor is elected president.

Violence again erupts in 1999 when another rebellion flares and Taylor loses control of much of the country, fleeing in 2003 to Nigeria.

The death toll from 14 years of civil war is estimated at 250,000 with hundreds of thousands of people displaced. Some of the worst abuses are perpetuated by government forces.

In 2012, Taylor is convicted by an international criminal court of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf becomes Africa’s first female head of state in 2005 when she wins presidential elections.

“Ma Ellen” wins relection in 2011, and a month later is co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize as a champion of women’s rights.

The 78-year-old has served two terms and so is barred from standing in the coming election.

Liberia suffered the most deaths in West Africa’s 2014-16 outbreak of Ebola.

The virus killed 11 300 people in three countries, more than 4 800 of them in Liberia.

The years of civil war devastated the economy and infrastructure of Liberia, which is rich in natural resources such as minerals and forests.

Growth stagnated at zero percent over 2014 and 2016 because of the Ebola outbreak and a fall in commodity prices, the World Bank says.

But prospects are better for 2017 with gold production and improvements in service likely to account for better economic performance, it says.

AFP

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