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September 26, 2015

Civilian government restored as Burkina Faso coup ends

Civilian government restored as Burkina Faso coup ends

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

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Gilbert Diendéré in 2010.
Image: Jeremiah Erickson, USAF.

The week-long coup d’état in Burkina Faso ended on Wednesday with the restoration of interim President Michel Kafando and the civilian government. By yesterday the government announced that the presidential guard unit involved in the coup, the Regiment of Presidential Security, would be dissolved.

This follows the intercession of regional leaders and the regular Army, which sent soldiers to the capital on Monday.

The leaders of the Economic Community of West African States met on Tuesday in the Nigerian capital Abuja and helped with negotiations. A prominent mediation role was also played by the Mogho Naba, the traditional king of the Mossi, who are the country’s largest ethnic group. Civilian protests against the coup resulted in the deaths of at least ten people with more than a hundred injured. The attempt to overthrow the government was criticized by the international community, with the African Union suspending the country’s membership and describing the coup as “null and void”.

The President and Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida were detained by the presidential guards at a ministerial meeting on September 16. The guards installed their former commander, Gilbert Diendéré, as head of state and demanded the lifting of a ban on electoral participation by anybody who had tried to help exiled former President Blaise Compaoré to extend his 27-year rule in October 2014. Diendéré was previously Compaoré’s chief of staff.



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November 26, 2011

Yahya Jammeh wins Gambia presidential election

Yahya Jammeh wins Gambia presidential election

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

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In Gambia, current president Yahya Jammeh has won a presidental election, allowing him to take a fourth term in office. According to the election commission, Jammeh gained 72% of the votes.

File photo of Gambian president Yahya Jammeh from February 2007.
Image: John Armagh.

Mustapha Carayol, electoral chairman, reported an 83% voter turnout. Carayol also stated Ousainou Darboe, the leader of the United Democratic Party, took 17% of the vote, while Hamat Bah, of the United Front coalition, received 11% of votes. Jammeh was confident that he would win this election, saying: “There is no way I can lose unless you tell me that all Gambian people are mad”.

Darboe has disputed the validity of these results, calling them “bogus, fraudulent and preposterous” and claimed that they “constitute a capricious deception of the will of the people”. Before polling commenced, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) expressed concern about the fairness of the election and the freedom of Gambian voters. ECOWAS refused to send poll observers to monitor Gambia’s vote; they cited “intimidation, an unacceptable level of control of the electronic media by the party in power, the lack of neutrality of state and para-statal institutions, and an opposition and electorate cowed by repression and intimidation” as reasons for their refusal to do so.

BBC News Online has reported that the polling was overseen by observers representing the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the African Union (AU). According to Voice of America, AU members were satisfied with the organization of the poll and the conduct of voters. The head of the poll monitoring group at the AU reported: “We didn’t notice any intimidation anywhere. The policemen who were in the polling stations were not armed, and as much as possible tried to do their job without interfering with the process.” Meanwhile, Carayol has contested the accusations of ECOWAS, stating that the Gambia election process is “one of the fairest in the world”. Carayol explained: “We use marbles; we don’t use ballot papers, [and] we have very few invalid votes. All Gambians understand the system”. He insisted that Gambia elections “are free and fair”.

Samuel Fonkam, the chairman of ELECAM — Cameroon’s Electoral Board — says members of the group did not witness any incidents of violence or intimidation in the approach to the election. Fonkam said that in all 24 constituencies they observed, “the turnout was massive, orderly, peaceful and really serene”. The citizens of the Gambia “demonstrated to those who wanted to see that they are the sovereign masters of their destinies,” according to Fonkam.

Jammeh came to power of the Gambia in 1994 as the result of a bloodless coup in which he overthrew the previous president. Speaking about his presidency, Jammeh claimed: “In 17 years, I have delivered more development [to Gambia] than the British were able to deliver in 400 years”.

The stance of the Jammeh government on civil liberties has attracted criticism from international rights groups, with particular disapproval drawn to the government’s attitude towards freedom of the press, as well as the disappearance of journalists there and the detaining of journalists within the country. Jammeh responded to this criticism by stating: “The journalists are less than 1% of the population and if anybody expects me to allow less than 1% of the population to destroy 99% of the population, you are in the wrong place.”

Last year, eight people accused of plotting Jammeh’s overthrow were sentenced to death. In 2007, Jammeh claimed that the sexually transmitted infection AIDS could be cured through the use of a herbal concoction. In 2008, he said he would sentence homosexuals to execution by beheading. The three elections Jammeh previously won have also received a substantial amount of criticism.



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December 23, 2010

French citizens told to leave Ivory Coast as UN warns of civil war

French citizens told to leave Ivory Coast as UN warns of civil war

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Map highlighting location of the Ivory Coast.
Image: Vardion.

The French government has urged its citizens to leave the Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) as the United Nations (U.N.) warned that the country was heading towards a civil war. According to the U.N., there has been an increase in the use of intimidation methods by elements of the national security forces loyal to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo.

“The international community must act and act decisively. I emphasize again today what I have said earlier: any attempt to starve the United Nations mission into submission will not be tolerated. Any attack on the United Nations and its staff must be considered an attack on the international community,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement. He added that the techniques of intimidation include “abductions and killings and the propagation of hate speech through the state broadcasting corporation.”

Meanwhile, the French government urged its citizens to leave the country. “We ask those who can, to leave Ivory Coast temporarily until the situation normalises,” said Francois Baroin, a government spokesperson.

On Saturday, Gbagbo ordered the U.N. and French peacekeepers to leave the country saying, “The government demands the departure of the UNOCI and LICORNE [French] forces in Ivory Coast and is opposed to any renewal of their mandate.” Gbagbo claimed victory in the nation’s elections on November 28. Alassane Ouattara won the presidential run-off election on December 3 according to the country’s electoral commission. However, the Constitutional Council has contested the announcement. The French government and the U.N. have also rejected the election results. Gbagbo offered for several entities to investigate the election results, which was rejected by Ouattara who said “we’ve finished with these games.”

“I am … ready to welcome a committee… headed by the African Union, involving ECOWAS, the Arab League, the United Nations, United States, the European Union, Russia and China, which will have permission to analyse objectively the facts of the electoral process …to solve this crisis peacefully,” Gbagbo said in a statement.

The U.N. said it has no plans to leave the country saying, “the president-elect is Ouattara and he hasn’t asked us to leave” and that they intend to “fulfill its mandate and will continue to monitor and document any human rights violations, incitement to hatred and violence, or attacks on U.N. peacekeepers.”

Also on Saturday, a U.N. convoy and the mission headquarters in Abidjan was attacked by masked gunmen in military uniforms. According to the mission, a civilian vehicle with six men inside approached the convoy. When the convoy approached the compound’s entrance the gunmen opened fire. No one was injured in the attack. Shots were fired back at the gunmen, but none were hit.



Related news

  • “UN says it won’t leave Ivory Coast” — Wikinews, December 20, 2010
  • “UN convoy attacked by gunman in Ivory Coast as peacekeeping forces ordered to leave country” — Wikinews, December 18, 2010

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February 19, 2010

Niger coup ousts president

Niger coup ousts president – Wikinews, the free news source

Niger coup ousts president

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Friday, February 19, 2010

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The president of Niger, Tandja Mamadou, has been captured and imprisoned by a group of Nigerien soldiers under the name of “Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy” after an attack on the presidential palace late Thursday.

File photo of Tandja Mamadou from 2007.

The Nigerien embassy in London has issued a statement saying that both the president and ministers in his company were “safe and well,” although officials said that the company was most likely imprisoned in military barracks outside of Niamy.

According to an announcement by the representative of the group responsible for the coup, a Nigerien Army colonel, the country’s constitution has been suspended and all government institutions have been dissolved. It is not clear who the leader of the coup is, although several military sources said that Major Adamou Harouna of the Nigerien Army was responsible.

The coup apparently took place during a cabinet meeting in the capitol building, and was preceded by a several-hour long gun battle in the capital, Niamy. The battle began at about 13:00 local time (12:00 UTC), ending about four hours later, with both foot soldiers and tanks involved, although no significant deployment of the military was reported. The morning after the battle, the streets were relatively quiet, and the only significant military presence is heavy artillery around the presidential palace.

The battle led to at least ten deaths, four of which were soldiers. The identities of those killed have not been released. Additionally, a curfew has been imposed, and the military has closed Niger’s borders. Despite the crisis, the government has yet to release an official statement as to its status.

The actions of the military prompted condemnations of the coup from both the African Union and the nation of France, both of which called for negotiations to resolve the situation. The West African group of countries Ecowas has already dispatched a delegation to talk to the group responsible for the coup.

The coup came after an extended political crisis in which President Tandja has dissolved both the National Assembly and Niger’s High Court, as well as extending his presidential term by three years, and removing all further limits on his term. These actions have led to increasing pressure against him and the government, culminating with a thousands-strong demonstration against the government last week.



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October 25, 2009

Niger’s ruling party wins majority in parliament after elections

Niger’s ruling party wins majority in parliament after elections

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

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Niger’s president Mamadou Tanja

According to Niger’s election commission, President Mamadou Tandja’s party won a large majority in the parliament after recent elections held on Tuesday.

76 of 113 total seats were taken by Tandja’s party, and a further 21 seats were taken by smaller parties supportive of the president. Twelve independents also received seats in the parliament. Opposition parties boycotted the ballot after Tandja altered the constitution to allow him to extend his time in office past the limit of ten years, and seek a third term.

Reports of turnout varied widely, indicating that between 18% and 80% of people voted. Turnout in rural areas was reported to have been higher, while fewer voters cast their ballots in Niger’s capital Niamey.

The elections, however, have been condemned by some in the international community. The polls were organised despite pressure for them to be postponed. Several days ago, the ECOWAS trade bloc suspended Niger when it refused to heed calls to postpone the ballot, and said it would not recognise the election’s results. The country’s Foreign Minister Aichatou Mindaoudou responded to ECOWAS’ decision, saying that the bloc didn’t understand Niger’s political dynamics. Niger has asked for the bloc to reconsider the suspension.



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October 20, 2009

ECOWAS suspends Niger in dispute over constitution

ECOWAS suspends Niger in dispute over constitution

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has suspended Niger for refusing to postpone a legislative election. The regional alliance wanted Niger to delay the vote, which was held on Tuesday, to allow for political dialogue following a controversial referendum that has extended the president’s time in office.

“ECOWAS will not recognize the outcome of today’s elections in Niger,” the alliance said in a statement.

ECOWAS followed through on its threat to suspend Niger after President Mamadou Tandja went ahead with legislative vote. Tandja ignored last-minute appeals by ECOWAS leaders to delay the poll, saying that election preparations were too far advanced.

Niger president Mamadou Tandja

The regional alliance asked him to indefinitely suspend the election in favor of political dialogue to resolve a political crisis sparked by an August referendum that changed the constitution to extend the president’s time in office.

“ECOWAS is already in touch with the African Union to put the Niger file also on the agenda of the African Union Peace and Security Council, which would also lead to the United Nations taking a similar decision,” said Abdel Fatau Musah, the political director of the ECOWAS alliance. “And we know that our partners, like the European Union, are also considering very severed measures against President Tandja and the authorities in Niger for blatantly casting aside their constitution, which actually forbids their president from going beyond two terms.”

Opposition parties have been boycotting this vote for 113 legislators to replace the parliament Tandja dismissed when it said his constitutional referendum was illegal. The president dismissed the country’s constitutional court when it reached the same conclusion.

Alat Mogaskiya, one of the founders of Niger’s Party for Democracy and Socialism, said that Tandja had the legal authority to dismiss parliament, but ignored the constitutional mandate to have new elections to replace those lawmakers within 90 days. He claimed that the new Tandja government is illegal and illegitimate, because the referendum extending the president’s term was unconstitutional.

Ruling party communications secretary Issoufou Tamboura said the opposition boycott will have no impact on the vote, just as its boycott of the referendum had no effect on changing the constitution. Tamboura said the boycott will not stop the new government from continuing its work and electing a new assembly. Parties are free to join or boycott the vote as they choose.

He added that the boycott will not affect the credibility of this vote, because the ruling party is the country’s largest and it is taking part. Some other smaller parties are also participating. He said his party believes this election will be credible.



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October 8, 2009

Guinea to launch investigation into killing of protestors

Guinea to launch investigation into killing of protestors

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

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Guinea’s military government has said that it is launching what it calls an independent investigation into last week’s killing of opposition demonstrators by security forces. Military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara told state television that the commission of inquiry is his government’s response to calls from the international community, political opponents, and local human rights groups to prosecute those responsible for last Monday’s violence.

A Justice Ministry statement said that the commission will include members of the ruling military council, political parties, trade unions, civil society groups, human rights organizations, lawyers, judges, and university professors.

In all, the military government said 31 people will investigate what happened when security forces opened fire on opposition demonstrators at Conakry’s main sports stadium. Human rights groups say at least 157 people were killed in the clashes. The military says 57 people were killed, most in the crush of protesters fleeing the stadium.

Captain Moussa Dadis Camara in August 2009

Captain Camara has blamed both “uncontrollable elements” of the military and political opponents who he said should not have staged an illegal protest.

Opposition leaders say they will not join proposed regional efforts to mediate the crisis unless Captain Camara resigns and his military council is dissolved.

There was no immediate word on whether opposition groups would take part in the military government’s probe into the killings last week.

The Economic Community of West African States says it is organizing a regional investigation involving both the United Nations and the African Union.

Human Rights Watch says that is an “excellent move.” But it also supports Guinea’s own inquiry into the events of September 28.

“You could have up to 150 or even more murders of mostly peaceful demonstrators. Not to mention the horrific sexual abuse that happened against an unknown number of women and other abuses that were happening including theft and looting and so on,” said Corinne Dufka, head of the Human Rights Watch operations in West Africa. “This was done by all accounts by members of the security forces. They need to be held accountable.”

Dufka said the volume of photographic evidence of sexual assaults against women at the protest should be front and center in any investigation. “You see security forces from a number of different corps,” said Dufka. “You have members of the presidential guard. You have what appear to be members of the military, the police, and the gendarmerie. So right there you have a number of people who are responsible.”

The demonstrators were protesting Captain Camara’s expected run for the presidency. He has not yet formally announced his candidacy, but has told supporters that he will not insult them by ignoring their demands that he run.

The African Union suspended Guinea following Captain Camara’s December coup. The AU said it will sanction him later this month unless he makes clear that he will not be a candidate in elections scheduled for January.



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  • “At least 50 killed in clashes in Guinea” — Wikinews, September 29, 2009

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April 30, 2005

Violent rioting, deaths follow disputed election in Togo

Violent rioting, deaths follow disputed election in Togo

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Saturday, April 30, 2005

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Immediately after the provisional election returns in the West African nation of Togo were given last Tuesday, violence and chaos erupted with security forces beating and shooting protesters, who object to the fairness of the Togolese elections and allege widespread fraud. Some of the opposition leaders who were targeted are said to have been unarmed or even found by security forces in their homes, and police have fought in fiery pitched battles against rioters for days, employing tear gas behind burning barricades. At least 40 Togolese citizens have been killed.

The elections were won by Faure Gnassingbé, son of the previous leader Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who held power in Togo for about 38 years before his death on February 5, 2005. The army appointed his son as his successor and the country’s leader, but regional opposition forced him to step down and seek free elections.

The preliminary count indicates that 60% of the vote went to Faure Gnassingbé, a 38-year-old Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Yale University and son of the former President. An additional 38% went to his chief opponent, 74-year-old Emmanual Bob-Akitani, who was endorsed by a six-party coalition and opposition leader Harry Olympio. Further violence is expected as the official vote tally and announcement of results comes within a few days.

“Just after the [preliminary] results were announced the red berets [commandos] went out into the streets and started shooting at the boys,” said Marthe, who fled to a U.N. refugee camp in Benin to escape the fighting. “They only shot at the boys. They ransacked shops and blamed the youths, who were unarmed,” she continued in her Reuters interview. More than 11,500 Togolese have fled from their country and taken up temporary residence in Benin and Ghana since the elections, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The opposition party claims that 100 people have been killed in the ongoing violence that passed through Lome and other villages. Togo’s Human Rights League has verified the deaths of at least 40, and the wounding of many others.

“Violence is not the way to deal with democracy,” said Mohammed Ibn Chambas, executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). “We think the way forward is for Togolese to use dialogue, and to sit down and negotiate.” ECOWAS has certified the elections as free from interference, a decision that some countries such as France have accepted, but the United States continues to question the fairness of the outcome.

Germany protested after its cultural center, the Goethe Institute, was burned down in Lomé. The Togolese government has accused Germany of aiding the opposition, and former interior minister Francois Boko (who was fired earlier for trying to postpone the election due to fears of violence) has sought refuge in the German embassy. Togo is a former German colony, but the official language of the country is French, since it was passed to Britain and France in 1918 and only gained its independence in 1960.

Gnassingbé has offered to form a new unity government, incorporating voices from the opposition, but their leaders turned down the offer, claiming that the election was fraudulent and stolen.

“If they refuse tomorrow, I hope that they will decide to join us the next day,” said Gnassingbé to France’s Le Monde in their Friday edition. “Reconciliation is a long process. You can’t jump overnight from a regime that lasted for 38 years to a new one,” he continued.

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February 19, 2005

Togo\’s Faure Gnassingbé says elections will be held in 60 days

Togo’s Faure Gnassingbé says elections will be held in 60 days

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Saturday, February 19, 2005 Following pressure from African leaders, Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbé has announced on Friday that new elections will be held within 60 days. Mr. Gnassingbé was selected as the successor of his father Gnassingbé Eyadéma, Africa’s longest serving leader, who passed away two week ago.

“I have decided in the higher interests of the nation to continue the process of transition in line with the constitution of 1992 … and organise the presidential election within the stipulated time of 60 days,” Mr. Gnassingbé told in a televised address on a state channel. He said that he intends to remain in power until the elections.

Mr. Gnassingbé’s selection with the army’s help — in contrast to the process outlined by the Togolese constitution — has drawn sharp criticisms from world leaders and Togo’s population. Despite his decision to hold elections the criticism continued. On Saturday Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the chairman of Economic Community of West African States, said that Togo faces “immediate sanctions” if Mr. Gnassingbé did not step down. According to the constitution in effect at the time when Gnassingbé Eyadéma died, upon the president’s death power is transferred to the head of the national assembly.

See also

  • February 10, 2005: Togo’s new leader promises elections, but doesn’t say when

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