AROUND AFRICA: Buhari Wins Nigeria Election, Ebola Roundup [UPDATE 2]
NIGERIA: Jonathan Concedes, Buhari Winner.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has conceded to his opponent Muhammadou Buhari in the closest presidential election since democratic rule was restored to Africa’s most populous naion in 1999.
Although the final tally isn’t known yet, Jonathan — who defeated Buhari in 2011 — called his rival Tuesday (March 31) to concede and congratulate the retired major general. It is the first time a sitting president has lost an election in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and leading oil producer, according to the BBC, Reuters, VoA and CNN.
More than 20 million votes were cast in an election marred by insurgent attacks, charges of fraud and technology glitches at polling places. Saturday’s voting had to be extended to a second day, Sunday (March 29), as tens of millions turned out to vote, either to stay the course with Jonathan or try Buhari’s promise of change — including a more robust campaign against violent Islamist insurgents who have killed thousands.
The 72-year-old Buhari had a growing lead — 2.5 million votes — over Jonathan late Monday (March 30) with some 23 million votes counted in 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states, according to Reuters. The announcement of further results will resume Tuesday morning, Nigeria’s Independent National Election Commission (INEC).
Buhari, a Muslim from Nigeria’s north, promised to root out the corruption that has plagued Jonathan’s administration and the ruling People’s Democratic Party. Buhari also vowed to crush the radical Islamist group Boko Haram, whose attacks over the last five years have killed 10,000 people and driven thousands more. Buhari seized power in a military coup and ruled Nigeria for almost two years in the 1980s.
While international bodies like the United Nations and the African Union initially said the Nigerian vote was largely free and fair, Britain’s and American’s top diplomats expressed concerns that election results “may be subject to deliberate political interference.”
The joint statement from Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said there were “disturbing indications” that such interference would mar the bitterly contested election, the Washington Post reported.
Problems with electronic fingerprint readers at several polling stations caused delays for voters already waiting in long lines. Nigeria has 60 million registered and turnout was predicted to be the largest since the country returned to democracy in 1999.
Observers’ big concern is that no matter who wins, reports of fraud or intimidation could spark a repeat of the post-election violence in 2011 when Buhari lost to Jonathan, 57, a Christian from southern Nigeria. About 800 people were killed, most of them in the predominantly Muslim state of Kaduna in the north.
Buhari’s supporters in the All Progressives Congress (APC) party are already crying foul after Jonathan won a massive 95 percent of the vote in Rivers state, the volatile and hotly contested home of Africa’s biggest oil and gas industry. Some took to the streets in protest. In the oil city of Port Harcourt, police fired tear gas at a crowd of 100 female APC supporters demonstrating outside the regional offices of the election commission.
In addition to technical problems at the polls, voting was marred by reports of election-related violence in predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria.
Boko Haram launched several attacks on voters in the north-east on election day. Before dawn, extremists invaded the town of Miringa, in Borno state, torching people’s homes and then shooting them as they tried to escape the smoke. Twenty-five people died in the attack, The Guardian reported.
Another 14 people were killed in attacks on the towns of Biri and Dukku, in Gombe state, according to police and a local chief. Among the dead was a state legislator, AFP reported.
The election was delayed for six weeks to allow the government to launch an offensive against Boko Haram — supported by troops from neighboring Niger, Cameroon and Chad, which have all suffered attack by the Islamist radicals who have sought union with the brutal Islamic State group terrorizing parts of Syria and Iraq.
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The three West African countries hit hardest by the Ebola virus outbreak are ramping up efforts to eradicate the deadly disease using lockdowns, restrictions on burials and warnings about the risks of unprotected sex.
The region’s Ebola outbreak has killed more than 10,000 people since cases were first recorded more than a year ago, with most of the dead coming from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the Associated Press reports.
LIBERIA: Safe Sex
In Liberia, hardest hit by Ebola, Liberian officials are urging Ebola survivors to refrain from unprotected sex beyond the recommended 90 days, following on the country’s first Ebola death in more than a month, the Voice of America reported.
The female patient who died Friday was married to a man who had the disease but survived. Officials fear she may have gotten sick through sexual transmission. The 44-year-old woman was its first confirmed case in more than a month.
GUINEA: 45-Day Health Emergency
Guinea’ President Alpha Conde has declared a 45-day “health emergency” in five regions in the west and south-west of the country to stem the spread of the disease.
The restrictions include the quarantining of hospitals and clinics where new cases are detected, new rules on burials and possible lockdowns, the BBC reported.
The Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013. Last January, the World Health Organization reported a steady drop in cases in the three epicenterre countries.
But renewed concern has been triggered by fresh setbacks Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
On Sunday (March 30), the head of the U.N.’s Ebola fighting force warned against complacency, while also hailing Guinea for tightening surveillance, AFP reported.
SIERRA LEONE: Lockdown Ends
Sierra Leone has just ended a three-day, countrywide lockdown where people were told to stay home while volunteers went door-to-door educating people on Ebola prevention.
Almost 4,000 people have died from Ebola in the West African country. The goal of the “Zero Ebola Campaign,” the Voice of America reported, is to stop the spread of the disease by educating people about the dangers and encouraging sick people to seek treatment.
Entry filed under: Africa, Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, International Relief, News Developments, Peacekeeping, Technology. Tags: Africa, African economy, African oil industry, Boko Haram, Counter Insurgency, counter terrorism, Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Nigerian presidential election, Sierra Leone, soft power.