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Buhari claims victory in Nigeria

International | The opposition disagrees, sparking fears of violence in the days ahead
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 2/26/19, 05:45 pm

ABUJA, Nigeria—As Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said an unofficial count indicated he won Saturday’s presidential contest against former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the opposition has already rejected the outcome of the vote, causing concern about unrest. At least 53 people have been killed in election-related violence and there have been a handful of insurgent attacks in some of the northern areas known for conflict.

The final results are expected on Wednesday, at the latest. With 28 of the country’s 36 states reporting, Buhari captured 15 states, while Abubakar won in the capital and 11 other states, most of them in the majority Christian south. The YIAGA Africa civic group said its election observers recorded between 36 and 40 percent voter turnout, compared to 44 percent in 2015. Babatunde Fashola, a spokesman with Buhari’s campaign, said the ruling All Progressives Congress party was already preparing to celebrate its victory. He called on Abubakar to concede willingly, saying, “Let this nation move forward.”

Buhari, 76, and Abubakar, 72, are both Muslims from the country’s north. The two contenders remained at the forefront of a race with 71 other candidates, many of them first-timers. The incumbent promised to continue building on the foundational work his party began four years ago, while Abubakar and his People’s Democratic Party emphasized the need for more jobs and investment across the country.

In a Tuesday statement, People’s Democratic Party spokesman Uche Secondus said the results do not tally with what the opposition party collated and accused the ruling party of manipulating the results. He asked the commission to “remain impartial and not become willing agents to disenfranchise our people and derail our democracy, because the world is watching, and history will indeed pass judgment.”

So far, it seems unlikely either candidate will concede, and observers worry the weeklong delay of the vote enabled the parties to contest the result. In a joint preliminary statement, two U.S.-based observer missions—the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute—said that postponing the vote and the delay in opening some polling units risked “undermining citizen confidence in elections and disenfranchising voters.”

The Nigeria-based SBM Intelligence analysis group reported at least 53 people died in election-related violence, including at least 16 casualties from two attacks in Borno state and Yobe state on the day of the vote. But Amaka Anku, who leads the Africa team with the New York–based risk firm Eurasia said a Buhari victory is not likely to trigger widespread violence. “Atiku’s voters do not match Buhari’s passion and are unlikely to risk their lives on the streets for him,” she said.

Associated Press/Photo by Christophe Ena Associated Press/Photo by Christophe Ena French President Emmanuel Macron at the funeral of Mireille Knoll, a holocaust survivor killed in her apartment in March 2018 near Paris

France fights rising anti-Semitism

French President Emmanuel Macron announced a bill last week to curb online hate speech and redefine anti-Semitism to coincide with international standards in response to a wave of attacks targeting Jews.

During the annual dinner of the Council of Jewish Institutions in France, Macron said the nation would recognize anti-Zionism—the denial of Israel’s right to exist—as “one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism.” He said the changes abide by a working definition of anti-Semitism the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance issued in 2016.

In recent weeks, people have vandalized the portraits of a late holocaust survivor, cut down a tree planted outside Paris in memory of a Jewish youth killed by an anti-Semitic gang, and painted swastikas and other slogans at a Jewish cemetery in Lyon. “Our country is confronted with a resurgence of anti-Semitism undoubtedly without precedent since the Second World War,” Macron said.

The Vienna-based European Union Fundamental Rights Agency in a December survey reported 89 percent of Jews in 12 EU countries consider anti-Semitism online as a major problem. Some 28 percent of the Jews also reported some form of harassment over the past year. —O.O.

Associated Press/Photo by Mohamed Abuamrain Associated Press/Photo by Mohamed Abuamrain Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum, Sudan, on Friday

Sudan declares emergency

Embattled Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir last week declared a one-year state of emergency and disbanded the Cabinet and provincial governments amid anti-government protests that have persisted since December.

Sudan’s unrest began Dec. 19 over the rising costs of fuel and other basic amenities. It quickly spiraled into calls for the leader of three decades to step down. Al-Bashir acknowledged the protesters’ demands were legitimate but said some were exploiting the demonstrations “to take the country to the unknown.”

In a Sunday ceremony, al-Bashir swore in senior army staff to replace state and central government officials. Protesters fear the new appointments would encourage another crackdown on the protests, which have already drawn a violent response from officials. Human Rights Watch said authorities so far have shot dead at least 51 people. Since the state of emergency announcement, protests resurged in the capital city of Khartoum and several other parts of the country. —O.O.

Getty Images/STR/AFP Getty Images/STR/AFP Residents hold bullets in Rathedaung township, Rakhine state, Myanmar, on Jan. 28

Buddhist rebels abduct another pastor in Myanmar

A Buddhist insurgent group in Myanmar, also known as Burma, abducted an evangelical Christian pastor on Feb. 13, which was the second such abduction this year.

Pastor U Thar Tun’s wife, Daw Hla Sein, told International Christian Concern (ICC) that the Arakan Army tied her husband up and dragged him away after demanding to talk outside his home in Buthidaung Township, Rakhine State. She said local authorities and police are investigating.

Tun, 50, is a member of the Myo ethnic group and is active in the community in addition to pastoring Mara Evangelical Church, ICC reported.

On Jan. 19, the Arakan Army abducted another pastor, Tun Nu, along with several others. He was pronounced dead on Feb. 1.

The Arakan Army is an ethnic separatist group fighting for sovereignty for the Rakhine people in Myanmar. The rebel group expanded and recently increased attacks against the Myanmar army.

“This is an insurgency that people have taken their eyes off in recent years, but we should be paying closer attention to it,” David Scott Mathieson, a security analyst and human rights expert, told UCA News. —Julia A. Seymour

More on African elections

Senegal’s Alliance for the Republic ruling party prematurely claimed victory Sunday in a first-round vote that pitted incumbent President Macky Sall against four other contenders. Following the announcement, the electoral commission asked candidates to “abstain from prematurely declaring the results.”

Sall is widely expected to win the vote after the top two opposition candidates faced corruption charges that disqualified them from the race. The 57-year-old leader first assumed office in 2012 and is seeking another term.

In Uganda, the ruling National Resistance Movement party endorsed President Yoweri Museveni as the party’s candidate in the 2021 election—a move that could usher in his sixth term as the country’s leader. In December, the Ugandan Parliament approved a bill to remove the presidential age limit of 75, allowing the 74-year-old leader to run for another term. Museveni has ruled since he seized power in 1986. —O.O.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

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