Egypt opposition to boycott polls

Egypt’s main opposition group, the National Salvation Front (NSF), will boycott the forthcoming parliamentary elections, a spokesman says.

Spokesman Sameh Ashour said the move was in response to an absence of guarantees that the polls would be transparent, AFP news agency reported.

It comes days after President Mohammed Morsi announced the date for the elections, to be held over four days.

Judges dissolved the previous assembly, saying polls were unconstitutional.

The first round of voting in Cairo and four other provinces is due to be held on 22 April.

In the last elections, in January 2012, Islamist parties won a majority.

Egypt has since been deeply divided between Islamists and a liberal and secular opposition.

Last weekend, NSF leader Mohamed ElBaradei called for a boycott of fresh polls, branding them “a deception”.

Source: BBC


NPP’s boycott decision was to establish just peace in Ghana – Jake tells GBA

Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey has stated that the decision of the party’s Members of Parliament (MPs) to boycott the vetting of ministerial nominees of President John Dramani Mahama was “based on firm principles and is fully consistent with our commitment to work to deepen and improve our evolving democracy and establish a just peace in our country.”

According to him, though the MPs will participate “vigorously” in everyday business of Parliament, they will not engage in any activity or deliberate in matters that involve the constitution of President Mahama’s government as a result of the legal challenge filed by the party’s presidential candidate, his running mate and the party’s chairman regarding the 2012 Election results.

In a missive signed by Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey to the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) in response to the Association’s public call on NPP MPs to reconsider their decision to take part in the vetting of nominees, the NPP Chairman explained that the party’s parliamentary group was consulted on the legal challenge and since vetting nominee ministers, whose role will be to assist the president, will be contradictory to the challenge, the members of the party’s parliamentary group, who, according to the chairman, form an integral part of the NPP, decided not to show up on the Appointments Committee’s public sittings.

“Reconciling our position to our local culture would be that if one is challenging the elevation of a Paramount Chief one does not, at the same time, recognise such sub chiefs as he may enstool,” Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey analogized.

“I hope this explains our position,” he concluded.



NPP to boycott Jan 7 swearing-in ceremony

The highest decision-making body of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), the National Council, has thrown its support behind the action of the Party’s 2012 Presidential Candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and Party Chairman Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey to file a petition at the Supreme Court against results of the 2012 Elections.

In a meeting on Wednesday, January 2, 2013, the National Council also decided to boycott the planned inauguration of President-elect John Dramani Mahama and his vice, Papa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, on January 7, 2013.

A statement signed by the Party’s General Secretary Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie further directed all NPP members including parliamentarians to boycott the ceremony to be held at the Independence Square in Accra.

“We take this important decision in order to underline the critical principle of any democracy that the results of an election should reflect the voice of the majority of voters, not the voice of those who count, collate or declare the results,” the statement read.

“It is our contention that the declaration made by the Electoral Commission did not reflect this principle. Hence, our challenge in the Supreme Court of the validity of the election of John Dramani Mahama as President of the Republic.”

The Party reminded “the general public and our supporters that the scheduled inauguration of John Dramani Mahama as President of the Republic is without prejudice to the outcome of the case in the Supreme Court.”

They urged their supporters to continue to remain calm as the Supreme Court handles the petition.

“The petitioners have put their case before Court, and we leave it for the Court to judge its merits. The NPP, by this case, is seeking to deepen our democracy by strengthening the institutions that are mandated by the Constitution of the Republic to superintend the electoral process: (1) by ensuring that the Electoral Commission is accountable to the people of Ghana, and (2) the Supreme Court is seen by all as the ultimate arbiter of electoral grievances and disputes.”



Kuwait votes for parliament amid boycott calls

Kuwaitis are casting their votes for the second time this year as they head to the polls to choose a new parliament amid growing unrest.

On the eve of the election, tens of thousands of protesters in Kuwait City called for a boycott over changes made to the voting rules last month.

Opposition MPs say the amendment manipulates the ballot in favour of pro-government candidates.

Kuwait has had months of confrontations between the opposition and government.

Polling stations in the affluent Rumaithiya district of the capital appeared busy on Saturday morning, despite the calls for a boycott, the BBC’s Shaimaa Khalil reports from Kuwait City.

However, the AFP news agency reported a far thinner turnout at a polling station in Salwa, 15km (10 miles) south of Kuwait City.

Defiant mood

The main opposition grievance is a 19 October decree ordered by the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah, whose family dominates Kuwait’s government.

The crisis was sparked in June, when the Constitutional Court annulled parliamentary elections held in February, in which the Islamist-led opposition made significant gains. The court also reinstated the previous assembly, allied to the ruling family.

After months of protests, Kuwait’s emir ordered the dissolution of that parliament and announced new elections.

The emir’s decree last month cut the number of candidates a voter can elect from four to one, saying it would ensure a fairer representation of people in the parliament.

But critics of the amendment say it gives the government greater influence over the outcome of the ballot.

Opposition MPs say the changes breaches the Gulf state’s constitution. As a result they decided not to participate in the election.

Friday’s protesters were angry at what they say is a unilateral decision by the emir to skew the election, which will not create a parliament representing the people, our correspondent reports.

This level of political polarisation is unusual in Kuwait, which has traditionally had a more unified political scene, she adds.

Carrying banners reading “absolute power corrupts”, demonstrators marched through Kuwait City chanting, “we are boycotting” and “the people want to bring down the decree”.

The rally was led by former Islamist MPs, by liberals and by young people, our correspondent says, adding that the mood was jubilant but defiant.

Unlike recent unauthorised protests, which ended in clashes between protesters and police, authorities had issued a permit for Friday’s peaceful march.

Former MP Falah Al Sawagh told our correspondent the rally was not just about an electoral law, but about a long-term plan for real reform in Kuwait. “This is just the beginning,” he said.

Demonstrator Rana Abdel Razak said the march would continue even after the election was held.

“We want real democracy, having elections doesn’t mean we have democracy,” she added.

Kuwait’s parliament has the most powers of any elected body in the Gulf and opposition MPs openly criticise the ruling Sabah family.

However, the Sabahs retain full control over key government and executive posts.

The emir has dissolved parliament four times since 2006.


Source: BBC