- - Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NIGERIA

Court overrules election challenge

ABUJA — An election tribunal has dismissed the main opposition party’s challenge over fraud claims in the April presidential election, revalidating the ruling party’s win in Africa’s most populous nation.

The Congress for Progressive Change’s election lawsuit failed to cast reasonable doubt on the results that handed victory to President Goodluck Jonathan about six months ago, said Judge Kumai Akaas, who led a panel of four judges that reached a unanimous decision.

“The petitioner did not discharge the burden of proof, even on the balance of probability,” Judge Akaas said.

Opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari’s party challenged the results of the April 16 vote soon after the nation’s election body announced that Mr. Jonathan had won 22.4 million votes.

The election body said that Mr. Buhari had come in second place, with 12.2 million votes, giving Mr. Jonathan enough votes in at least 24 of Nigeria’s 36 states to avoid a runoff.

The opposition vowed to appeal the ruling.

“We have judgment of conscience, judgment of people and judgment of God,” opposition party Chairman Tony Momoh said.

Leading up to the vote, the opposition party had support in the country’s predominantly Muslim north, where a wave of postelection riots later left at least 500 dead and more than 40,000 people displaced.

Nigeria has a long history of violent and rigged polls since it abandoned a revolving door of military rulers and embraced democracy 12 years ago.

UGANDA

Group says government harassing, repressing critics

KAMPALA — A report from an international rights group released Tuesday said that government-backed harassment and repression of critics are increasing in Uganda.

A government spokesman called the accusations exaggerated and unfounded.

The report from Amnesty International said that Uganda's government and public officials are placing illegitimate restrictions on freedom of expression.

Amnesty said that journalists, opposition politicians and activists face arbitrary arrest, intimidation and politically motivated criminal charges.

Ugandan opposition supporters have launched a wave of “walk to work” demonstrations this year to protest high prices and government corruption. Many of the demonstrations have turned violent.

The most recent protest, on Monday, resulted in the arrest of opposition leader Kizza Besigye.

In demonstrations in April and May, police opened fire on protesters, killing nine people.

“The government’s position … has been to effectively outlaw all forms of public demonstrations, rallies or assemblies in the wake of the 2011 general elections and especially those which criticize the electoral process, current government policies and the conduct of public officials,” Amnesty said.

Amnesty said that journalists were physically assaulted before, during and after Uganda’s February elections by police, political aides or political supporters. Police often failed to investigate such complaints, the group said.

Mr. Besigye ran against Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in those elections but lost for a third straight election to the 25-year leader. Mr. Besigye has said he suspects the results were falsified.

Tamale Mirundi, a spokesman for Mr. Museveni, said groups like Amnesty International “exaggerate about human rights abuse in Uganda and Africa at large so they get funds from donors.”

KENYA

Kenya to probe deaths of civilians in Somalia

NAIROBI — Kenya’s prime minister said Tuesday that the government will carry out investigations if there have been any civilian deaths stemming from Kenya’s military incursion into Somalia, even as the international Red Cross lent weight to the view that civilians were harmed.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Tuesday that it resumed distribution of food aid to more than 6,000 people at a camp in southern Somalia a day after the aid group Doctors Without Borders said five people were killed and more than 50 wounded in airstrikes there.

The ICRC said it suspended operations after an air raid on Sunday.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said that any civilian loss of life in Kenya’s pursuit of al Qaeda-linked Somali insurgents would be regrettable and that investigations would be carried out if civilians were killed.

The Kenyan military acknowledged carrying out an air raid attack on Sunday but blamed militants for the deaths.

Kenyan military spokesman Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir said the civilian deaths from Sunday’s attack occurred when one of the militants drove a burning truck of ammunition into the refugee camp in the town of Jilib, where it exploded.

He said the Kenyan air force hit the truck as it drove away from an al-Shabab training camp.

Kenya sent hundreds of the troops to Somalia in mid-October in pursuit of al-Shabab militants whom it blames for a string of kidnappings in Kenya.

BURUNDI

Great Lakes nations to create security center

BUJUMBURA — The intelligence services of 11 nations in Africa’s Great Lakes region have vowed to create a joint security center against rebel movements that “threaten peace and stability.”

The secret services pledged to provide “information about all the negative forces and armed groups that threaten the security of their country and the entire Great Lakes region,” said a confidential document seen by Agence France-Presse.

The agreement by members of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region said the new body will be based in Goma, in eastern Congo.

Each country will give “the names, designations, composition, order of battle, staff, activities … of the armed forces and armed groups,” the document read.

The international conference, founded in 2006 in Nairobi to try to bring peace and stability to one of the world’s most troubled regions, is made up of Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

From wire dispatches and staff reports