Liberians to elect a new president
All is set as Liberians will today, October 10, 2023 head to the polls to cast votes and choose a president for themselves who will rule for the next six years.
An estimated 2.4 million voters in the country are eligible to cast their ballots in the general election in which President George Weah is seeking a second term after a first six years marked by corruption allegations and abiding economic hardship.
The former football world’s best player, Weah, 57, who turned to politics after a successful soccer career, says he needs more time to fulfil his promise to rebuild the West African nation’s broken economy, institutions and infrastructure, pledging to pave more roads if reelected.
Elected in 2017 in the country’s first democratic change of power in over 70 years, Weah is running against 19 other presidential candidates, with his main rival being former Deputy President Joseph Boakai, 78.
Boakai has waged his campaign under the slogan “Rescue”, arguing that the West African state went downhill during Mr Weah’s first six years in office.
But Weah is confident of victory, saying that he has kept Liberia stable and has improved education.
To avoid a runoff, the winner must secure 50% of votes cast, plus at least one more vote.
US reiterate support for Niger’s ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum
The United States of America has reiterated its commitment to support the ousted Niger president, Mohamed Bazoum.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he has spoken to the ousted president.
He reiterated that “a democratically elected, civilian-led government presents the best opportunity to ensure that Niger remains a strong partner in security and development in the region,”US state department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement on Monday.
Bazoum was deposed in a military coup on July 26 and he and his family have since been detained.
The US “called for the immediate release of all those unjustly detained following the military takeover,” Mr Miller told BBC.
The junta, led by General Abdourahmane Tchiani, has set up a transitional government and earlier announced a three-year transition period that was rejected by the regional group Ecowas.
ECOWAS had been trying to negotiate with the coup leaders and had warned that it was ready to send troops if diplomacy failed.
First French troops have left Niger
Report has it that French forces have begun exodus from Niger on the orders of the coup executioners.
“The first troops have left,” the spokesperson for the French chief of staff is quoted by AFP news agency as saying.
Tensions between the two countries began in July after a coup in which the democratically-elected president and French ally, Mohamed Bazoum, was ousted.
Earlier, Niger’s army said the departure would begin on Tuesday under escort from Nigerien forces.
About 1,500 French soldiers have been assisting in the fight against Islamist militants.
Algeria puts mediation on hold over Niger coup crisis
Algeria has announced it has suspended its efforts to mediate the political crisis rocking Niger following the coup in July.
Algeria’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement sighted by BBC on Monday, October 2023, that declarations from the Nigerien authorities had raised “legitimate questions about their real willingness to follow through on their acceptance of Algerian mediation.”
It has now put the process on hold pending a commitment from the junta to continue with mediation.
Last month, Niger accepted Algeria’s offer to mediate in its political crisis aimed at returning the country to constitutional rule.
In August, Algeria had proposed a six-month transition period led by a civilian authority.
But the head of the junta, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, who seized power in July, wanted a three-year transition period.
Algeria had also objected to a military solution to the crisis in Niger following threats by the regional bloc Ecowas of a possible military intervention to restore democracy.
The President of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu, who is the chairman of the regional bloc, had welcomed the mediation process, but this latest development will further frustrate efforts to resolve the political crisis in Niger.
Stray Virunga park elephant killed and eaten in DRC
An elephant that escaped from Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has been eaten by the residents of a nearby village.
“It’s like manna falling from heaven for us,” Conservationist group Conserv Congo quoted “jubilant” people from Katwiguru village as saying.
The non-profit group, which works with the country’s wildlife authority, the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN), tweeted that it was not clear whether it was rebels or villagers who had killed the animal.
An electric barrier surrounding the park several weeks ago was damaged by “youths” allowing two elephants to stray on Monday, the AFP news agency reports ICCN as saying.
The fate of the second elephant is unclear.
Virunga is a famed wildlife park in the middle of a conflict zone where many militia groups operate near the border with Rwanda and Uganda Conservation efforts have driven rebel forces from the park – which stretches across 7,800 sq km (3,000 sq miles) – and created a safe area for elephants.
According to the park’s website, 580 elephants migrated into the park in 2020 to form a herd of about 700.