FEATURED PHOTOS AND STORIES

Tuesday:  November 25, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in elections (6)

Saturday
Apr022011

Historic Elections in Nigeria Suspended Due to Irregularities (UPDATED)

The EU is heading an election observer mission in Nigeria. CREDIT: HUMNEWSUPDATED -- (HN, April 3, 2011) - In a huge embarrassment for Africa's third largest economy and regional superpower, elections for Nigeria's House of Representatives were suspended just four hours after tens of millions of registered voters started to head for voting stations.

The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) said Saturday it has postponed the elections  for 109 seats in the Senate and 360 seats for the House of Representatives across the country to Monday, April 4th.

INEC chief Attihiru Jega said on TV that he blamed the postponement on ‘ unprecedented late arrival of results sheets’ to the country's 120,000 polling stations.

According to Nigeria's Vanguard newspaper, glitches on Saturday were caused by poor logistics, as materials arrived in many polling stations late. Voting materials reportedly failed to arrive in the capital Abuja and other regions, including Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom, Edo and Delta, Plateau and Borno states. 

Later reports attributed the delay to the late delivery of ballot papers from Europe and South Africa. It remained unclear Sunday what would be the fate of the ballot papers already used.

There are fears that the crisis could stoke more violence in an election campaign that has already reportedly claimed the lives of hundreds of people in politically-motivated communal and sectarian violence across the country of 150 million people.

Late Saturday, the Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) said it was "naturally very disappointed" and that it sympathises with the "frustration" felt by the Nigerian people.

"We also call for calm and restraint on the part of all stakeholders, so that the elections can take place in an atmosphere of peace and order," said a statement issued by the Chair of the COG, Festus Mogae.

Some Sunday newspapers in Nigeria called Saturday's failed National Assembly vote an "election fiasco" and a "national shame."

The former Chieftain of the Alliance for Democracy, Musa Umar, told The Vanguard that the postponement was surprising. "This is the first time in the history of Nigeria that an election is postponed on the day fixed for it."

Opposition groups have been quoted as saying that the postponement is a deliberate attempt by the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) to prevent defeat at the polls.

Debo Adeniran, head of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders pressure group, was quoted as calling the postponement "a national shame and a monumental waste of time and resources."

Election posters in Abuja. CREDIT: HUMNEWSWidespread disappointment was visible as ordinary Nigerians tweeted about their disbelief in the postponement. "It seems Nigerians showed up to do their civic duty in hoards but the government failed to do its part...unfortunately," said a student in Nigeria in Twitter post at 1730GMT today.

The debacle comes several weeks after a nationwide registration process had to be extended twice due to chaos involving computers and other equipment.

An election observer mission led by the European Union arrived in the country about two weeks ago to monitor the polls.

Next weekend elections for the presidency are scheduled to take place, followed by governorship elections in 36 states a week after that. Many will see this development as a major blow to Nigeria's desire to break a cycle of election fraud and violence.

- HUMNEWS staff

Saturday
Feb052011

Amid Chaos Nigeria Voter Registration Extended (Updated Feb 6 1500GMT)

HN, February 6, 2011 - Nigerian officials late Saturday ordered a two-day extension to the largest-ever voter registration drive in Africa amid widespread choas that left many citizens unable to get documented.

The order of the last minute "mop-up" registration came as tempers flared at voter registration points across the country of 150-million people as thousands of voters were trying to obtain voter registration cards for April elections.

A voter registration point in Abuja. The technology used has caused widespread problems. HUMNEWS

As the deadline for voter registration ended at 1700 local time (1700GMT) Saturday, hundreds of people were angrily pushing towards the booths in two locations in the capital, a HUMNEWS correspondent on the scene said. Similar scenes of chaos were reported elsewhere in Nigeria - Africa's most populous nation.

"I've been waiting here since early this morning and still dont have my card," said Geoffrey, an Abuja resident in his 20s.

George, a small business owner, said it took at least 20 minutes per person for processing - which includes finger printing, a head shot photograph, verification of identification and printing and lamination.

As darkness began to fall at 1800 local time there was no way that officials could clear the backlog at the two points visited by HUMNEWS.

The two-day mo-up registration will occur only in certain states and only in certyain parts of the Federal Capital Territory.

The voter registration exercise - the largest-ever in Africa - was initially scheduled for a two week period. Despite assuarnces from the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) - which is overseeing the process - a second extension still may not be sufficient to document million of unregistered eligible voters.

Soon after the nationwide registration process got underway in January, widespread problems began to emerge with the more than 120,000 computers and peripherals purchased. Registrars also complained of a lack of crucial materials, a lack of electricity and late salaries.

Security was tight at registration points HUMNEWSEarlier in the week, Project 2011 Swift Count - and independent monitoring group, called upon the INEC to improve its logistical and organizational capabilities. Another group said that in spite of the one week extension, the registration exercise is still being undermined by non-functioning direct data capturing machines and shortages of essential materials.

As of Thursday, INEC said it has registered 54.9 million of an estimated 70 million potential voters. The average daily registration count has fluctuated recently between 3.2 million to 4.3 million-a-day. When all is said and done the entire registration exercise will have cost Nigerian taxpayers almost N100-billion.

Elections for presidential, senate and local races will be held April 7.

From a HUMNEWS correspondent in Abuja

Friday
Jan142011

Goodluck for Nigeria (Exclusive Report)

By HUMNEWS in Abuja

(HN, January 14, 2011) - "We have money - that is not our problem." That's what taxi driver Geoffrey Gumaju repeated as he navigated his battered, green taxi along the roads of the Nigerian capital.Mention of Nigeria's children was almost absent from the PDP convention CREDIT: HUMNEWS

Like many of his countrymen, he complains of a horribly-decaying infrastructure, despite the country's oil wealth. Roads are in bad shape, the health system has been described by DFID as on the brink of collapse and millions of youth are unemployed. "I have to bribe someone to get a job," says Gumaju.

Gumaju and Nigeria's 150-million people woke up this morning to news that incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan has won the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) ticket for the April presidential elections, handily defeating his opponent - former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.

Ordinarily, the presidency of this oil rich nation rotates between the predominantly Christian South and the majority-Muslim North. Jonathan, who assumed the presidency last year after the death of Umaru Yar'Adua, a northern Muslim, is a Christian from the South.

The PDP has captured every single presidential vote since the country returned to civilian rule in 1999. It gained independence from Britain in 1960.

In what was mainly a lackluster series of speeches, the three PDP presidential aspirants had little to offer in terms of concrete change. In fact, Jonathan, who spoke last before voting last night, said one of the biggest accomplishments during his term of office is that airplanes no longer get lost in Nigerian airspace. "The whole country is covered by radar now," he said.

Sarah Jibril, a colourful candidate and the lone female contender, was the only speaker to emphasize the need to lift the country's women and children out of poverty.

She said: “I represent ‘zoning neutraliser’. When you vote me, Nigeria will not be called one of the corrupt countries again. We did it in Liberia when we elected a female president. I have the mental capacity to lead Nigeria…I will be Mama President from whom there will be a rebirth. ”

The World Bank on Thursday boosted its growth forecast for Nigeria to 7.1 percent in 2011, from a previous estimate of 5.7 percent. Fresh spending on infrastructure is expected to contribute.

According to the UN, however, more than half of Nigeria's population of 150-million live in poverty, and 20 percent of Africa's poor call Nigeria home. The country accounts for 20 percent of global maternal mortality.

- From a HUMNEWS special correspondent in Abuja

Sunday
Nov282010

Haiti in Crisis: Widespread Irregularities Reported in Presidential Elections (News Brief)

(HN, November 28, 2010) - Claiming widespread fraud and mismanagement, a dozen presidential candidates in the Haiti elections Sunday are calling for annulment of the results.

In what one foreign correspondent described as an extraordinary press conference, a statement by 12 of 18 candidates - including one of the frontrunners, the 70-year-old former first lady Mirlande Manigat - called upon the people of Haiti to mount a peaceful protest against the government and the ruling party's hand-picked Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). Thousands of people did protest in Haiti's two largest cities but the CEP said the election would go on.

"We ask the people to mobilize right now to show their opposition to the election," candidate Josette Bijoux said. "We need a new Haiti  without fraud."

The disenfranchised candidates said the fraud was a ploy by "the corrupt government of (Haitian President) Preval" to "perpetuate his power and keep the people hostage to continue their misery."

CBC News reporter Paul Hunter said he had witnessed numerous occasions of electoral fraud.

"It was unbelievable. I have never seen anything like it," said Hunter. "We saw ballot stuffing. We heard voters who were intimidated into voting for a candidate. And we saw thugs, gangs of thugs, going into polling stations, grabbing stacks of ballots, marking them with the candidate of their choice."

Election monitors and representatives of major donor governments and the United States met after the press conference and hinted that things did not go as planned.

"We are all concerned about the possibility of violence because we don't want to see people lose live in a process that should be democratic," said Organization of American States Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin.

The United Nations said that it "and the international community expressed their deep concern at the numerous incidents that marred the elections."

Preliminary results are not expected until Dec. 7.

The chaos comes amid an ongoing cholera outbreak in Haiti that has affected about 70,000 people, and has complicated the international response to January's 7.0-magnitude earthquake. A UN spokesperson said that unrest may complicate efforts to deal with the epidemic; she appealed for calm. "We appeal to the conscience of everybody; everything can be sorted out," she told the BBC.

- HUM staff, agencies

Thursday
Nov042010

(REPORT) Myanmar (aka Burma): Election look ahead to Sunday 

(HN, November 4, 2010 ) -- After months of preparation and the promise of “free and fair” elections, the polls in Myanmar (also known as Burma) will be open for the first time in 20 years on November 7th.   The general election forms the fifth step of the seven-step "road map to democracy" proposed by the ruling junta in Myanmar, the `State Peace and Development Council’ (SPDC) in 2003. The sixth and seventh steps being the gathering of elected representatives and the building of a modern, democratic nation, consecutively.

Although the  international consensus is that there will be no such thing as a “free and fair” election this Sunday there is support of the generals from India, China, Thailand and others; and the world’s top diplomat, Ban Ki-moon is keeping optimistic.

The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) is expected to emerge as the new “civilian leaders” backed by millions of Burmese who have been enticed or coerced into joining the proxy party.

The USDP, led by current Prime Minister Thein Sein, began on a populist platform, offering low-interest loans to Burma’s poorest. The cash-for-vote ploy may prove to be too hard to refuse for the average Burmese citizen to refuse as approximately 33 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.  After decades of military rule, Burma has the lowest per capita GDP in South East Asia.

The wealth of the USDP has meant that it can promote a candidate in 1,112 of the 1,158 districts around the country, while most other parties struggle with high registration fees. In 52 of those districts, USDP faces no competition at all and in fact has actually been canceling balloting in at least 12 villages in six districts in Kayah state "as conditions are not conducive to holding a free and fair election," according to an official notice seen on November 2nd.  The announcement in the states official newspaper gave no further explanation for the action, but in September, the election commission canceled voting in about 300 villages in 33 townships where ethnic minorities are dominant.

Funding for the USDP comes from the disbanded Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), the so-called "social welfare" wing of the junta, which also boasts the country's most powerful political and business figures. Most of the 26 million USDA members are now with the USDP.

Since 1990, world attention has focused on Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party won 58 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections in 1990, only to see the results annulled and Suu Kyi put under house arrest, imprisoned where she’s been since. Her house arrest was due to end in May 2009, but was extended for eighteen months after she was convicted for violating the terms of her house arrest.

From her house arrest she has called for an election boycott and supporters of the (NLD) are holding "lightning" protests telling the public that a vote on Sunday will legitimize military rule.

Currently the strongest opposition party, the National Democratic Force, formed by former members of the NLD, is fielding 163 candidates against the USDP’s 1,100 and faces added competition from the boycott lobby. What opposition exists faces little hope of winning any clout in the new parliament as 25% of those seats are already reserved for the military.

"You cannot hope the election to be free and fair by world standards," said Dr Than Nyein, the chairman of the NDF. "But at least we can have a civilian government in place of a military one and I think this is a great step forward.”

(VIA: DVB.NO)

In addition to this on October 22nd the country’s West Coast state of Rakhine was hit by Cyclone Giri which devastated the area, leaving 71,000 people homeless and affecting over 200,000 according to government estimates who, according to the UN will require food aid over the next three months following the Cyclone's destruction of rice fields. Although petitions have been filed asking for a delay in elections to take place in the affected areas, the government has not replied and elections will take place on Sunday as scheduled. This is not the first time the government has proceeded with voting after a natural disaster. In the 2008 referendum, which set the ball rolling for these elections, the junta claimed a 98% voter turnout, with 92% approval, despite 15% of the country having been left crippled by cyclone Nargis.

Compounding matters are reports that there has been an increase in fighting in border areas where there has been a long-running war between ethnic groups and the Burmese military; and stories of villages being attacked due to assumed affiliation with border rebels are also increasing.

Added to all of this are the 2,200 political prisoners, more than half a million internally displaced persons, 400,000 monks and hundreds of thousands of refugees abroad – all of whom would likely vote opposition in a democratic election; but all of whom cannot vote in Sunday’s election.

How the election will be reported to the rest of the world is also an issue. The ban on foreign journalists and election monitors is intended to lock the country's physical and virtual borders; a campaign that has already seen aggressive aggressive cyber attacks on independent media, the slowing of the country's internet, and a ban on domestic journalists going near the polls.

The international NGO Human Rights Watch along with other world leaders have already issued their view on the upcoming election saying "The international community doesn't need to wait until November 7 to know these elections are rigged from top to bottom," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. 

The group is urging the new government for real change in Burma and calling on the global community to take various steps, including calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, while pressing the new government to respect human rights, commit to an inclusive political process that includes increased access for humanitarian agencies and the media, and increasing the role of civil society and development groups.

The SPDC announced the elections on August 13th and results are expected to take several days to weeks to return. 

- HUMNews Staff

Monday
Nov012010

(Report) Brazil elects nation's first woman president 

Dilma Rousseff greets supporters during her victory meeting in Brasilia, Brazil. (Marcelo Sayao, EPA / October 31, 2010) 

(HN, November 1, 2010) -- Dilma Rousseff, the former Marxist rebel who was imprisoned and tortured during Brazil’s military dictatorship, has become the country’s first female leader, winning 56% of the total votes compared to rival Jose Serra’s 44%

Ms. Rousseff, the protégée of current leader, Luiz inacio Lula da Silva (Lula), has vowed to follow in her predecessor's footsteps by continuing to work to eradicate extreme poverty in Brazil, which approximately 20 million people in Brazil suffer from.

Ms. Rousseff takes office on 1 January next year when President Lula steps down after completing the constitutional limit of two consecutive terms.

Her election as Brazil’s first female leader was a sign of the democratic progress Brazil has made, Rousseff said in her victory speech in the capital, Brasilia. “I am here stating my first post-election commitment: to honor Brazilian women so that this fact – unprecedented until now – becomes something normal and can be repeated and expanded in companies, public institutions, and organizations that are representative of our entire society.” She continued: “I would like very much today for fathers and mothers of daughters to look in their eyes and tell them ‘Yes, woman can.”

Rousseff, 62, had never before held elected office. She is an economist and worked her way up through local and state governments.

She joined President Lula’s cabinet as energy minister in 2003-5 and then became his chief of staff.  

She is expected to emphasize government efficiency, expand the role of state in some sectors such as mining, and upgrade the country’s dilapidated infrastructure.

Paying respect to her predecessor she said, “The task of succeeding him is difficult and challenging. But I know I will honor this legacy and extend his work”

In the near future Ms. Rousseff will oversee a huge expansion of Brazil’s oil industry, following the discovery of major offshore fields that should make Brazil one of the world’s top 10 oil exporters.

She can count on strengthened majorities for the governing coalition in both houses of Congress to help ease the task of pushing her legislative agenda.  

President Lula said of Rousseff that she will have “to form a government in her own image – I only hope she achieves more than I did.”

- HUM News Staff