Senegal: Governing coalition loses legislative majority | Politics News

Dakar, Senegal – After a tense few days of ready for a winner in Sunday’s legislative elections, provisional outcomes launched confirmed President Macky Sall’s governing coalition misplaced its majority in a ballot pitched by opposition teams as a referendum on his insurance policies and potential third-term aspirations.

Nevertheless, the primary opposition coalitions additionally did not win a majority of the Nationwide Meeting’s 165 seats. Sall’s coalition, United in Hope (Benno Bokk Yakaar, within the Wolof language) gained 82 of the meeting’s 165 seats, one shy of a majority.

The principle opposition coalitions, Liberate the Individuals (Yewwi Askan Wi) and Save Senegal (Wallu Senegal), working in an alliance, gained 56 and 24 seats, respectively, for a complete of 80. The remaining three seats had been break up amongst smaller events and coalitions.

Thursday’s outcomes throw one more twist onto an already suspense-filled week following the high-stakes Sunday polls. How the varied teams will govern and the way a lot affect the primary opposition or Sall’s camp could have stays to be seen, as they should court docket the three remaining legislators.

Senegal has by no means earlier than had a Nationwide Meeting with out an outright majority, and a Senegalese president has by no means ruled with out his get together holding the bulk.

“There can be a balancing of political forces,” mentioned Maurice Soudieck Dione, a political science professor at Senegal’s Gaston Berger College.

“President Sall not has his comfy majority, his mechanical majority that allowed him to do no matter he wished.

“There’s going to be an impact of checks and balances,” Dione mentioned, including the “presidentialisation” of the legislative marketing campaign by the opposition – that’s, making the elections a referendum on Sall – was a profitable technique.

A backdrop of democratic backsliding in Senegal had, for a lot of, elevated the stakes of Sunday’s vote. After constitutional modifications throughout Sall’s first time period, many mentioned he was more likely to argue that such modifications successfully reset his time in workplace, permitting him to pursue one other mandate in 2024 regardless of being restricted to serving two phrases.

The opposition hoped a majority within the Nationwide Meeting would complicate such a transfer. For years now, Sall has repeatedly declined to remark publicly on whether or not he would search a 3rd time period, placing many on edge.

The stress between Sall’s camp and the opposition arose quickly after Sunday’s voting ended, when Sall’s coalition declared victory within the early morning hours of Monday.

The opposition coalitions rejected the transfer as untimely – and later claimed victory for his or her aspect.

Outcomes had been initially anticipated Monday, however amid shut margins, voters had been caught ready as administrative division vote counts got here in individually, in a gradual drip.

As extra votes trickled in all through the week, it began to seem like the opposition had the sting. Earlier than Thursday’s outcomes, consideration had turned to the northern area of Saint Louis.

Liberate the Individuals known as for the nationwide vote counting fee to droop the announcement of the outcomes to be able to give the opposition an opportunity to look into allegations of fraud and irregularities in some northern polling stations, however the request was rejected.

Allegations within the press and suspect movies on Twitter have circulated in current days, however analysts mentioned that whereas the scenario is sophisticated, no proof of fraud has appeared.

The Collective of Civil Society Organizations for Elections, a neighborhood election statement group backed by worldwide observers, mentioned honest elections had been held with minimal disruptions.

Protests forward of elections

Protests sprung up in Dakar and across the nation within the lead-up to the vote when the candidate record for Liberate the Individuals was thrown out by the constitutional council on a technicality – leaving high-profile candidates similar to Ousmane Sonko, a 2019 presidential contender, off the poll.

Contemplating earlier political rivals to Sall have additionally discovered themselves in jail or with expenses levelled in opposition to them, the constitutional council’s resolution was interpreted by some as political interference.

In Sunday’s elections, Liberate the Individuals needed to run its substitute record, largely composed of political outsiders. Sall’s coalition, which needed to drop its substitute record in one other technicality dinged by the constitutional council, defended the method.

“For those who make an inventory that doesn’t respect what the legislation says, it’s merely eradicated,” Sall informed French broadcaster Radio France Worldwide. “It’s powerful, however that’s the legislation.”

Protesters additionally took to the streets in Dakar and cities across the nation final yr when Sonko was arrested for rape – expenses he has denied. However the stress seen between Senegal’s rival politicians was largely absent amongst voters on Sunday, in polls that observers have mentioned largely went off with no hitch.

Although the capital, Dakar, went to the opposition, there have been loads of voters blissful to solid a vote for Sall’s coalition. Beneath Sall, Senegal’s financial system grew by greater than 6 p.c annually from 2014 to 2018.

Even amid an financial downturn in 2018 – then adopted by the COVID-19 pandemic – the nation’s GDP continued to take care of optimistic, if hampered, development.

A lot-needed infrastructure tasks, from highways to refurbished regional airports to new bridges, are beneath development across the nation. Off-shore oil and gasoline manufacturing has simply kicked off, and a brand new prepare line runs from Dakar via its suburbs out to newly constructed stadiums and convention centres on the outskirts of the capital.

“There are a variety of issues that should be performed, and so they’re behind them,” mentioned Daouda Banji, a United in Hope voter sitting within the courtyard of a center faculty that doubled as a polling centre on Sunday within the crowded suburb of Thiaroye. “They’re working for our nation.”

On the identical time, the rising tide of the financial system has not lifted all boats equally. Whereas the nation has rebounded from the worst of the pandemic, worldwide inflation – a fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, COVID-induced provide chain woes, and Wall Road hypothesis – has pushed up costs for gadgets similar to wheat and cooking oil.

Lease, cost-of-living points, and unemployment are longstanding points amongst involved residents. Different entrenched points stay unsolved: This spring, battle heated up once more between the Senegalese military and separatist rebels within the Casamance area, the place after 40 years of peace continues to look elusive.

In July, as seasonal rains swamped Dakar, some neighbourhoods discovered themselves underwater regardless of repeated guarantees to enhance town’s and surrounding suburbs’ infrastructure.

“Every thing that occurs on the Nationwide Meeting, it’s Macky Sall who decides … I’m voting within the first place for the individuals to have illustration within the Nationwide Meeting,” mentioned Oumar Fall, a Senegalese-American who voted overseas from Detroit, Michigan, the place he’s a postal employee.

“There’s the opportunity of a 3rd time period [for Sall], which might plunge the nation into chaos.”

Senegal’s Nationwide Meeting has 97 legislators elected by a majority of their division and 53 elected by proportional illustration. One other 15 legislators are elected by Senegalese residing overseas.

Whereas the nation is famous for its political stability, that has not all the time been equal to a wholesome democracy: Sall got here to energy after defeating then-President Abdoulaye Wade throughout a third-term run by the incumbent, who used modifications to the structure as an excuse to reset his time in workplace.

Senegalese took to the streets and the poll field to reject Wade, and most of the identical protesters from that 2012 election have been demonstrating over fears Sall will attempt the identical factor.

Whereas the opposition did not win a majority, some analysts and observers highlighted the very fact Sall’s get together misplaced its majority bodes in poor health for any third-term presidential makes an attempt.

On Sunday, some supporters famous their votes for United in Hope weren’t essentially votes for a 3rd time period for Sall.

“These are the presidential elections – it’s not time for that but,” mentioned Badji, the United in Hope voter in Thiaroye.

Bintou Sané, a highschool pupil who voted for Sall’s get together, added, “We are able to wait, we will see.”

Colombia’s next defence minister faces ‘a hell of a fight’ | Politics News

Bogota, Colombia – Ivan Velasquez first made a reputation for himself as a prosecutor in Medellin within the Nineteen Nineties, when he reportedly refused to simply accept a briefcase of cash from Pablo Escobar to drop investigations into the drug lord’s lifetime of luxurious in jail.

He gained prominence by investigating the ties between Colombian paramilitary forces, politicians and the enterprise group on the peak of the civil struggle. His work finally led to the conviction of greater than 60 politicians, together with the cousin of former President Alvaro Uribe. And he’s no stranger to non-public danger: Throughout a landmark probe into monetary ties between the enterprise group in Antioquia and paramilitary teams, 14 investigators in his workplace had been murdered.

On August 7, Velasquez will turn into defence minister within the administration of President-elect Gustavo Petro. He’ll take workplace amid a bunch of safety challenges: rising violence in rural areas with little or no state presence, report coca manufacturing, and felony armed teams who’ve grown in energy because the nation’s historic 2016 peace accord with rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Petro, who will turn into the primary leftist president in Colombia’s trendy historical past, vowed on the marketing campaign path to considerably reform police and navy forces. His appointment of Velasquez, who additionally labored as the highest United Nations official on the Worldwide Fee towards Impunity in Guatemala, sends a robust message that he intends to observe via.

The appointment has sparked harsh criticism from Petro’s critics, who view his previous as a insurgent fighter with deep suspicion. Velasquez “has taken a powerful place towards these of us within the navy”, Raul Musse Pencue, a retired profession soldier, instructed Al Jazeera. “We concern he’ll usher in a widespread persecution of navy personnel who’ve undergone investigations associated to their on a regular basis duties as troopers in service to their nation.”

CICIG
An activist in Guatemala Metropolis holding an indication that reads in Spanish ‘Thanks CICIG’ – the Spanish acronym for the Worldwide Fee In opposition to Impunity [File: Moises Castillo/AP]

Proper-wing Senator Paloma Valencia went additional, telling native media that the appointment “reveals a whole absence of democratic ensures … [and] places all of our lives at risk”.

However individuals who have labored intently with Velasquez in each Colombia and Guatemala paint a really totally different image: one among a soft-spoken and apolitical anti-corruption crusader who at all times retains a cool head, even throughout instances of utmost private hazard.

“He isn’t politically motivated,” Gregorio Oviedo, a prosecutor who labored alongside Velasquez in Medellin, instructed Al Jazeera. “His whole profession, he has advocated for human rights. He is aware of the right way to lead. He is aware of the right way to examine, and most significantly, he is aware of what it’s to dwell and work in areas of the nation most politicians solely examine from Bogota.”

Stephen McFarland, the previous US ambassador to Guatemala, additionally welcomed the appointment: “Uribe has accused him of getting a political agenda. So long as I’ve identified him, his solely agenda has been to construct a clear and impartial justice system.”

‘Highly effective message’

Velasquez’s work has made him many enemies. His workplace in Medellin was illegally bugged by Colombian intelligence and his safety workforce infiltrated. His private bodyguard on the time was a spy for the nation’s Administrative Division of Safety, which was dissolved in 2011 after a spate of instances of unlawful surveillance of journalists, human rights staff, politicians and judges went public.

He reportedly evaded a kidnapping try in Guatemala when authorities officers allegedly tried to deport him extrajudicially, and he has endured numerous demise threats towards each himself and his household in each nations.

Velasquez’s anti-corruption work in Guatemala led to profitable convictions towards ex-President Otto Perez Molina, his former vp, seven ministers, and dozens of politicians and businessmen. Velasquez was declared persona non grata by then-President Jimmy Morales in 2017 and exiled from the nation.

“He arrested high-level businessmen for monetary crimes – individuals from the richest households in Guatemala,” McFarland instructed Al Jazeera. “Individuals who earlier than Velasquez arrived thought they had been untouchable.”

Petro
Colombia’s President-elect Gustavo Petro just lately spoke to college students at Externado College in Bogota, Colombia [Fernando Vergara/AP]

Petro, who incessantly denounced corruption whereas he was on the marketing campaign path, “is sending a robust message that the times of impunity, when the federal government would possibly flip a blind eye to the excesses of public forces, are over”, Oviedo mentioned. “Civilian regulation can be revered.”

Abuses by police and navy forces have come below rising scrutiny in recent times, as official investigations have revealed disturbing particulars of rights abuses, together with the “false positives” scandal through which greater than 6,400 civilians had been killed by safety forces, who falsely claimed the victims had been enemy combatants.

Velasquez has expressed assist for Petro’s plan to position police, who at the moment report back to navy command as a part of the defence ministry, below civilian management. The reform was advisable by the UN final yr after an investigation into police violence throughout nationwide protests, the place dozens had been killed in a crackdown by safety forces.

Petro has additionally promised to reimplement elements of the 2016 peace deal that had been delayed or dismantled by the outgoing administration of Ivan Duque. As a part of his efforts to implement “complete peace”, Petro has provided to barter new disarmament talks with rebels who weren’t a part of the FARC peace deal. However this plan additionally entails dialogue with teams such because the Gulf Clan, which has grown more and more aggressive, shutting down giant parts of the nation by pressure and killing dozens of law enforcement officials.

Will they be prepared to barter with an ex-guerilla president and a prosecutor who has focused them for many years? Oviedo isn’t sure, however he notes that Velasquez “has the dedication, the power, and the expertise to take the primary steps in direction of actual justice in Colombia. However he’s in for a hell of a battle.”

Two years after Beirut blast, lawsuits raise hopes for justice | Beirut explosion News

Beirut, Lebanon – It has been a protracted two years for the households of the greater than 200 individuals who have been killed within the Beirut port explosion, however because the Lebanese investigation continues to be obstructed, the struggle for justice may very well be selecting up steam amid new authorized circumstances launched from overseas.

Tania Dou-Alam and her husband Jean-Frederic Alam have been attending an appointment at St George hospital, which overlooks Beirut port, on the night of August 4, 2020, when 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate ignited in a port warehouse – leading to one of many largest non-nuclear explosions in historical past.

Freddie, as Dou-Alam affectionately refers to her husband, was killed immediately because the glass of the constructing shattered and threw them throughout the room.

“Whenever you lose your husband, your soul mate, it feels such as you lose your entire life,” Dou-Alam advised Al Jazeera.

Ever because the explosion, by which greater than 7,000 folks have been additionally injured and far of the encircling neighbourhoods have been destroyed, Dou-Alam, and others who had members of the family killed, have unwaveringly referred to as for justice.

“It makes me really feel like I’m doing one thing for Freddie, as a result of we owe him, we owe all of them the reality and justice,” Dou-Alam mentioned.

“This makes my life value dwelling as a result of at a degree I misplaced hope for the whole lot; I used to be questioning why am I nonetheless right here, we have been sitting subsequent to one another, then seconds later he was gone,” Dou-Alam mentioned.

The proof that has emerged strongly means that high-ranking officers in authorities and the safety forces knew in regards to the danger from the ammonium nitrate stockpile and tacitly accepted it. Stories have additionally raised questions over the hyperlinks between officers and offshore commerce and solid doubt on the claims by corporations concerned in transport the hazardous cargo.

However Lebanon’s investigation has been stymied by relentless political interference, together with by Lebanese politicians submitting greater than 25 requests to dismiss the judges main the investigation, beginning with Choose Fadi Sawan, who was dismissed in February 2021.

His successor, Choose Tarek Bitar, has confronted the identical stress and authorized challenges, which has resulted within the investigation being suspended since December final yr. Bitar had issued arrest warrants for some officers, though the safety forces didn’t act on them.

‘Nefarious dealing’

With no signal that the home investigation will transfer ahead quickly, a civil case was filed in the US in mid-July by the Swiss-based organisation Accountability Now. It’s searching for $250m in damages for the survivors and in addition filed the case within the hope of uncovering new proof that may push the Lebanese investigation and different worldwide probes ahead.

The authorized motion is searching for the damages from Texas-based TGS, a US-Norwegian geophysical companies group, which owns the British agency Spectrum, the corporate that chartered the Moldovan-flagged Rhosus to ship the ammonium nitrate in 2013 – allegedly destined for Mozambique.

Accountability Now president and victims’ co-counsel Zina Wakim advised Al Jazeera the case focuses on contracts entered into between Spectrum and the Lebanon ministry of power – notably in 2012 when Spectrum was contracted to do seismic information evaluation, for which it required vibrator vehicles.

After finishing up the obligations beneath the contract, the vehicles wanted to be transported from Beirut to Jordan, and to take action, the Rhosus was purportedly chartered.

That is though the Rhosus – with a most capability of 964 tonnes – was already carrying 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate allegedly destined for Mozambique and didn’t have the proper ramps to load such heavy equipment weighing 160 tonnes.

A number of investigations discovered that the Rhosus – impounded in Beirut port for months over a debt dispute after which security fears over its rickety state – was reportedly susceptible to sinking, and the ship needed to offload its cargo of ammonium nitrate on the port in October 2014.

Legal professionals and the victims’ households say the declare about amassing the vehicles was a ploy to take the ammonium nitrate to Beirut and offload it there.

“It was already at thrice its capability when it arrived to Beirut … so it doesn’t make sense why this boat was chartered to Lebanon beneath the quilt of seismic information equipment transportation,” Wakim mentioned.

Through the case, people in Lebanon could also be summoned to questioning in the US, and in the event that they fail to seem they may very well be held in contempt of courtroom with potential arrest warrants being issued.

“They won’t be able to evade worldwide justice … they could refuse to seem however they then would simply have to remain in Lebanon as a golden cage till the winds shift,” Wakim mentioned.

Freddie was an American citizen – as his and Dou-Alam’s two sons are US-born and he or she has a inexperienced card, she and her youngsters have been in a position to signal their names as plaintiffs within the case in opposition to TGS.

Dou-Alam feels the authorized motion within the US is a method for victims to be heard, contemplating “there’s a scarcity of concern everywhere in the world relating to the explosion”.

Different kinfolk of victims have additionally joined the lawsuit.

Sarah Copland – the mom of two-year-old Isaac Oehlers, the youngest individual to be killed within the explosion – says this yr is particularly arduous for her and her husband.

“[Now it’s] two years, it received’t be for much longer till Isaac has been gone longer than he was with us, as a result of he was [only] two years and three months previous, in order that’s an enormous factor weighing on my thoughts,” Copland advised Al Jazeera.

Though Copland and her household lived lower than a mile from the port in 2020, Isaac was born in New York and had US citizenship so Copland felt a way of accountability to affix the lawsuit in Texas as a plaintiff on behalf of individuals in Lebanon whose solely recourse is the home Lebanese course of.

Plaintiffs say the proof makes it clear that Spectrum both consciously participated in or it turned a blind eye to the occasions that introduced the ammonium nitrate to the Port of Beirut.

“At finest it’s negligent, at worst [there is a] nefarious dealing occurring,” Copland mentioned.

“There’s no cash or something that can make any of this higher, but when damages are awarded the concept is {that a} victims’ fund can be arrange, so it wouldn’t simply profit the plaintiffs within the case,” she mentioned, including it might assist households concentrate on therapeutic reasonably than day-to-day survival amid Lebanon’s unprecedented financial disaster.

TGS didn’t reply to a request for remark by Al Jazeera, however has beforehand mentioned that it denies all allegations within the lawsuit and intends to struggle them in courtroom.

A helicopter drops water over the partially-collapsed Beirut grain silos
A helicopter drops water over the partially collapsed Beirut grain silos, broken within the August 2020 port blast, on July 31, 2022 [File: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters]

One other main worldwide lawsuit filed by the Beirut Bar Affiliation earlier within the yr is continuous in the UK’s Excessive Courtroom of Justice relating to Savaro Ltd, the corporate suspected of importing the ammonium nitrate from the Georgian chemical substances manufacturing unit Rustavi Azot.

Savaro Ltd, now seemingly inactive, has been given a September 20 deadline to disclose its nonetheless unclear possession, and if it fails to conform, a contempt of courtroom order in opposition to the corporate might be filed, which might lead to legal proceedings.

Al Jazeera was unable to succeed in Savaro Ltd for remark.

In the meantime, there are additionally native prosecutions in France, Germany, and the Netherlands relating to the demise of diplomats within the explosion, however in addition to being depending on the home investigation to disclose findings, advocates say these nations would additionally profit from a separate United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) fact-finding mission.

Legal professionals and households of the victims have been calling for such an investigation because the explosion occurred, to no avail.

Pressing want for UN investigation

The UN mentioned within the aftermath that it “assist requires a immediate, neutral, credible and unbiased investigation primarily based on human rights ideas, to look at all claims, considerations and desires in relation to the explosion in addition to the underlying human rights failures”.

Nevertheless it has not instigated its personal investigation, and advocates for justice over the blast say their letter to the Excessive Commissioner of Human Rights calling for a UN investigation went unanswered.

On the second anniversary of the explosion, survivors and households of these killed and a number of other organisations together with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty Worldwide, Authorized Motion Worldwide, Authorized Agenda and the Worldwide Fee of Jurists have despatched one other letter to the UN HRC to induce an unbiased fact-finding mission to Lebanon.

Authorized Motion Worldwide Government Director Antonia Mulvey advised Al Jazeera it’s extra pressing than ever for this decision to be tabled within the UNHRC at its subsequent session in September contemplating “the whole failure” of the home investigation.

However as Human Rights Watch identified at first of July, France is the barrier to tabling a decision within the HRC as President Emmanuel Macron is unwilling to take the lead, and most member states look to Paris to take action contemplating its historic ties to Lebanon.

“It’s shameful the member states haven’t but positioned this as a decision, it’s clearly a human rights difficulty, the very foundation of human rights is the proper to life,” Mulvey mentioned.

France’s stance is a sore level for households, contemplating Macron got here to Lebanon two days after the blast promising to assist the folks of Lebanon within the absence of a authorities, and personally referred to as for an “worldwide, open, clear probe” into the reason for such devastation.

“It’s important that President Macron follows up on his authentic statements requesting an unbiased and truthful investigation,” Mulvey mentioned. “France should take heed to the decision of the victims.”

As a mom who had her son taken away from her in a cut up second, Copland finds it extremely irritating that the decision for a UN investigation retains being ignored.

“So long as I don’t have Isaac, there’ll all the time be an enormous gap in our lives, however, I believe so long as [we] must expend power on preventing for justice it means [we] can’t simply concentrate on processing on all the sentiments and grief,” Copland mentioned.

Dou-Alam is assured justice shall be delivered quickly, solely as a consequence of how courageous and brave all of the households of the victims are, to face up in opposition to impunity.

“Each time you’ve proof and you’ve got folks able to struggle, justice will come, even when it’s not going to be very fast, it would come,” she mentioned.