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Mali opposition leader rejects election result as counting underway

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Malian opposition candidate Soumaila Cisse said on Monday he would reject the results of a presidential runoff marred by accusations of fraud, violence and low turnout, calling on the population “to rise up.”

Ballot counting was underway on Monday across the vast West African country after the vote Sunday saw one poll worker killed and hundreds of stations closed due to insecurity.

“The fraud is proven, this is why there are results we will not accept,” Cisse said at his party’s headquarters in Bamako.

“I call on all Malians to rise up… We will not accept the dictatorship of fraud,” he added.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, 73, is the clear frontrunner in a reprise of his 2013 faceoff against former finance minister Cisse, 68.

But Cisse’s team and other opposition contenders have repeatedly accused the government of fraud, including ballot-box stuffing and vote buying.

However the African Union (AU) election observers said the voting was carried out “in acceptable conditions,” in a preliminary report published Monday.

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At this stage there is “no tangible element” pointing towards voting irregulariities, the observers said, congratulating the Mali government for its efforts to improve the voting process and noting a drop in the number of untoward incidents in the second round of voting.

The European Union also said that in the 300 polling stations its observers visited, no “major incident” occurred.

Nearly 500 polling stations were unable to open on Sunday, the government said, mostly in regions plagued by jihadist violence and ethnic tensions.

“We had a little over 3.7 percent of stations which had not functioned properly” during the first round on July 29, Salif Traore, Mali’s security minister, said on Monday.

In the first-round vote on July 29, Keita was clearly ahead, with 42 percent against 18 percent for Cisse.

The three main opposition candidates had mounted a last-ditch legal challenge to the first-round result, alleging ballot-box stuffing and other irregularities.

But their petition was rejected by the Constitutional Court.

Politics

The Kenyan effect? Nigerian lawmakers agree to cut salary by 50%

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Following continued outcry against the high cost of governance amid humongous benefits accruing to public office holders in the face of soaring cost of living in Nigeria, the lower chamber of the country’s legislature— the House of Representatives— has agreed to donate 50% of its salaries for a period of six months.

 

 

The position comes after a motion of urgent importance for “An appeal to the proponents of the proposed nationwide protest, to maintain peace, eschew violence and open windows for meaningful engagements with the governments at all levels in order to address their issues” was raised by a lawmaker on Thursday.

 

 

There have been reports of an upcoming statewide mass demonstration by youths to show their unhappiness with the country’s hardships, which include high living costs, food scarcity, unemployment, and other issues.A viral poster on social media announced a nationwide demonstration on August 1 about the country’s hardships.

 

 

A similar kind of protest recently broke in Kenya, forcing the government to reverse a controversial tax bill, and announcing major cuts in public offices and office runnings. But the protest wasn’t without violence and vandalism. Nigeria like Kenya can be a susceptible the same protest approach with the hunting memories of the 2020 #EndSARS protest fresh.

 

While recognizing that Nigerians had the constitutional right to seek better living conditions, the Ogun legislator encouraged the youngsters to give the government a chance to solve the nation’s concerns.

 

Isiaka said, “The citizens of Nigeria have the constitutional right to peaceful assembly and protest to address their grievances but the House is pleading for reason, understanding, and unity in the face of adversity.

 

“This honorable House appeals to the proponents of the proposed nationwide protest in Nigeria to consider a different path, a path of patience, dialogue, and collaboration, prioritise peace and open channels for meaningful engagements with the government at all levels.

 

“We urge all stakeholders to uphold the principles of democracy, respect human rights, and uphold the rule of law in their actions and engagements

 

 

The Speaker, Tajudeen Abbas, presided over the session and gave members the opportunity to contribute to the motion. When it was time for the Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu, to speak, he amended the prayers by pleading with his colleagues to sacrifice 50% of their salaries to support the government’s intervention efforts to address the situation.

 

“This government is doing its best, but one year is not enough to address the challenges of this country. I want to plead with our colleagues to sacrifice 50 per cent for a period of six months.

 

 

“Our salary is N600,000 a month. I want to plead that we let go of 50 per cent of our salary for a period of six months,” Kalu said.

 

 

According to the International Monetary Fund, the general government expenditure consists of total expense and the net acquisition of nonfinancial assets. Despite its growing economic challenge and the uncharitable tag of been “poverty capital” of the world, Nigeria’s public office holders are part of the best paid across the world.

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Kenya’s Ruto sacks cabinet amidst protests in major win for protesters

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In response to pressure from widespread protests that have produced the greatest crisis of his two-year government, Kenyan President William Ruto dismissed his entire cabinet on Thursday, with the exception of the foreign minister.

After beginning peacefully, the youth-led demonstrations against the proposed tax increases descended into violence, resulting in at least 39 deaths during altercations with the police last month. A few protestors briefly invaded the parliament before Ruto decided against the new levies.

“I will immediately engage in extensive consultations across different sectors and political formations and other Kenyans, both in public and private, with the aim of setting up a broad-based government,” Ruto said in a televised address to the nation, adding that he would announce additional measures later.

In addition, he fired the attorney general but claimed that this had no bearing on the deputy president’s position.

Kenyans had been requesting significant cabinet changes, seasoned anti-corruption activist John Githongo told Reuters.

“Let us see what happens now if the new ministers deal with big issues around corruption and just the arrogance and excess of his administration and the fact that a lot of Kenyans died during the demonstrations,” he said.

“Hopefully this should temporarily calm things.”

Ruto finds himself torn between a beleaguered populace reeling from the rising expense of living and lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressuring him to reduce deficits. He suggested borrowing more money and cutting spending in approximately equal proportions last week to close the nearly $2.7 billion budget deficit left by the removal of the tax rises.

Although the government has no outstanding debt, many claim that Kenya is likely to miss its IMF targets as a result of the tax rollback. For the fiscal year that began on July 1, the estimated budget deficit is currently 4.6% of GDP.

Dismissing so many cabinet members, according to Ojango Omondi, a community organizer from the Social Justice Centers Working Group in Nairobi, was a “move towards justice,” but activists would want to see who Ruto chooses to replace them.

“It’s one thing to dismiss, the second is to ensure that the people that will be chosen in the cabinet are accountable to the constitution and the rule of law,” Omondi said.

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