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Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year 2021

Dear Party Presidents,
Dear Members,

The year 2020 which is coming soon to an end has been difficult for all, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Africa Liberal Network continued to function through the organization and monitoring of the various activities in accordance with its set objectives.

2020 was also for some of our members, an election year which ended for some with victories and for others with opportunities to re-assess. I would like to congratulate everyone for the efforts that have undoubtedly contributed to promoting the ideals of liberalism in Africa and across the world.

The health crisis did not allow our us to be physically present and assist everyone as needed, but we managed to show our support whenever necessary. Some of us have lost loved ones during this year. We reiterate the compassion of the network and renew our most saddened condolences. As we are enjoying Christmas festivities, I would like to remind you all that the virus is still there, therefore, let’s observe all sanitary measures, limit our movements and remain on guard.

In terms of prospects, we would like to continue implementing the network’s three-year strategic program, which was severely impacted by the pandemic.

For 2021, our goal is to succeed with the organization of the elective General Assembly scheduled for February-March 2021 in Congo Brazzaville if the sanitary conditions were to improve, making traveling and the Gathering possible.

This General Assembly will also include the examination of the updating project of our fundamental texts led by our brother Olivier Kamitatu and his team whom I congratulate for the excellent work.

In the meantime, I wish you all Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with good health, peace and joy.

Hon. Gilbert Noël Ouédraogo
President: African Liberal Network

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FNF Africa to award Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie the “Africa Freedom Prize 2020”.

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) awards the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie the “Africa Freedom Prize 2020”.

Date: Monday, December 14, 2020
Time: 13:00 CET
Location: https://www.facebook.com/FNFAfrica/ or https://plus.freiheit.org/africa-freedom-prize-2020

 

In her award-winning works, Adichie relentlessly addresses the central social grievances and political challenges of our time. As one of the most important intellectual champions of women’s rights, she inspires people around the world in their pursuit of freedom.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the long-lost, undogmatic voice of liberal feminism in the 21st century. She represents the success and self-image of a new generation of African women writers who are increasingly making their voices heard on the world literary stage. In her fight for freedom and self-determination for women, Adichie contributes to the consolidation of liberal values ​​and goals – not only in Africa, but all over the world

– an extract from the jury’s decision, as relayed by Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Paqué, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

I very much appreciate the honour of The Africa Freedom Prize. It is always gratifying to be recognised, and particularly so in this case, to join the good company of others who share my commitment to our beloved continent” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

The event will be hosted by South African media personality Redi Tlhabi, with a special musical performance by Zolani Mahola.

About the laureate: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in 1977 as the fifth of six children in the Nigerian university town of Nsukka. At the age of 19, she moved to the United States to study communications and political science, where she graduated from Princeton University and Yale University. Today Adichie is one of the great voices in world literature. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the National Book Critics Circle Award and the International Hermann Hesse Prize. Her lectures “We should all be feminists” and “The danger of a single story” are among the most watched TED talks. Adichie’s work is translated into 37 languages. She lives in Lagos and the USA.

About the Africa Freedom Prize: With the Africa Freedom Prize, the Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom has been honouring outstanding personalities who provide decisive impulses for the development of liberal civil society in African countries every year since 2016. Previous winners are Mmusi Maimane, Bobi Wine, Gareth Cliff and Hakainde Hichilema.

 

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Goodluck to our member parties in Burkina Faso, as they each contest the 22 November 2020 legislative and presidential general elections

 

Most recently, in February 2020, the network, our member parties and our strategic partners descended in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, where we were hosted by our 3 member parties: Alliance pour la Démocratie et la Fédération – Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (ADF-RDA), Union pour le Progrès et Changement (UPC) and Le Faso Autrement. Our arrival in Burkina Faso was to convene the network’s annual general assembly, which we successfully concluded under the theme: “Peace and Stability for Economic and Social Development in Africa”.

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This message is to express the network’s solidarity with the contesting member parties, to share our encouragement and support to the leaders Gilbert Noël Ouédraogo, President of the ADF-RDA and President of the Africa Liberal Network; Zéphirin Diabré, president of the UPC and former West Africa Vice-President of the Africa Liberal Network and Ablassé Ouedraogo, president of Le Faso Autrement, the full member of the Africa Liberal Network.

During both 2019 and 2020, the network had the opportunity to work with, capacitate and develop contesting women candidates from our member parties. We wish to extend messages of support to them too, as they defend and expand their advocacy during these elections. Best wishes are shared with Josephine Drabo Kanyoulou, Jacqueline Konate Souratie and Marie Prudence Ouédraogo.

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Le Réseau Libéral Africain exprime sa préoccupation suite aux récents développements au niveau de la zone tampon d’El Guergarat.

Le Réseau Libéral Africain condamne les appels à la violence du « Polisario » et son choix de mener une guerre avec le Royaume du Maroc.

Le Réseau Libéral Africain soutien l’intégrité du territoire du Maroc incluant le Sahara occidental et soutien le plan de régionalisation proposé par le Maroc.

Le Réseau Libéral Africain condamne La rupture de l’accord de cessez-le-feu par le Polisario qui constitue une violation flagrante du droit international et un acte de banditisme au niveau de la zone tampon et une violation des droits de l’homme du fait de l’obstruction par celui ci de la circulation des personnes et des biens à travers les frontières maroco-mauritanienne compte tenu de leur importance stratégique pour la stabilité, la sécurité et la prospérité de la région du Maghreb et du Sahel.

Le Réseau Libéral Africain appelle le Polisario au respect des accords de cessez-le-feu en place depuis 1991 et réitère son plein soutien aux efforts des Nations Unies et de son Secrétaire Général en vue de trouver un règlement pacifique à la question du Sahara, “dans le respect des résolutions pertinentes du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies et tout particulièrement de la dernière résolution (2548) adoptée le 30 octobre 2020”.

Le Réseau Libéral Africain salue les efforts pacifiques engagés par le Royaume du Maroc afin de parvenir à une solution durable sous l’égide de l’ONU.

Le Président du Réseau Libéral Africain

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Congratulations to our member party Seychelles Democratic Alliance & President Wavel Ramkalawan

The Seychelles Democratic Alliance (Linyon Demokratik Seselwa – LDS) previously was named the Seychelles National Party, and was founded in 1994. The SNP was formed by the merger of three separate opposition parties in 1994: the Seychelles National Movement, led by Gérard Hoarau; the National Alliance Party, led by Philippe Boullé (an independent presidential candidate in the 2001 presidential election); and Parti Seselwa, led by Wavel Ramkalawan.

A total of 66,017 votes were cast out of the 74,634 people who were eligible to vote in the three-day presidency and legislative election which started from Thursday 22 October 2020 to Saturday 24 October 2020. President Wavel Ramkalawan, running for the presidency for the sixth time, won 54.9% of valid votes cast.

“I declare Wavel Ramkalawan as the elected candidate,” the electoral commission chairman Danny Lucas said on earlier today, Sunday 25 October 2020.

Ramkalawan will take office with a strong political hand as his party won more than a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly election held at the same time as the presidential election. (Rassin Vannier, Seychelles News Agency)

(Seychelles News Agency) – Wavel Ramkalawan unseated the incumbent President of Seychelles in the island nation’s three-day election, winning nearly 55 percent of the vote and ushering in a new era of political leadership after decades of trying to win the archipelago’s top office, election officials announced Sunday.

The Seychelles Democratic Alliance (Linyon Demokratik Seselwa – LDS) is the largest political party in Seychelles. It holds the majority in the National Assembly after winning the 2016 elections and since then has had the aim to form the national government at the next Presidential election, which were these ones of October 2020.

The Africa Liberal Network, expresses hearty congratulations to our member party, Seychelles Democratic Alliance & President Wavel Ramkalawan.

President Wavel Ramkalawan will be sworn in tomorrow, Monday 26 October 2020 at State House.

 

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Guinée-Conakry : Renew Europe demande la libération immédiate de Cellou Dalein Diallo et le respect des droits et libertés fondamentaux

Le groupe Renew Europe au Parlement européen condamne fermement la violente répression des manifestations en Guinée-Conakry, suite aux élections présidentielles de dimanche et aux abus commis par les forces de sécurité contre le principal parti d’opposition, l’Union des forces démocratiques de Guinée et son président, Cellou Dalein Diallo.

L’assignation à résidence imposée au candidat présidentiel, Cellou Dalein Diallo, représente une violation des droits et libertés fondamentaux et une atteinte à la démocratie en Guinée-Conakry.

Le groupe Renew Europe appelle les autorités guinéennes à rétablir le fonctionnement normal des institutions démocratiques du pays, à mettre fin aux violences en cours et à cesser immédiatement la détention illégale de Cellou Dalein Diallo.

Commentant la situation en Guinée-Conakry, Dacian Cioloș (PLUS, Roumanie), président de Renew Europe, a déclaré :

“Le groupe Renew Europe est extrêmement préoccupé par les tensions qui entourent les élections présidentielles en République de Guinée. Dans les heures et les jours qui suivent, il est très important que les autorités actuelles assurent la transparence du décompte des voix. Les résultats électoraux doivent être exempts de fraude et de manipulation. Compte tenu des tensions, nous appelons également les autorités de la République de Guinée à garantir la sécurité du candidat adverse, Cellou Dalein Diallo et de ses partisans”.

Hilde Vautmans (Open Vld, Belgique), députée européenne, coordinatrice de Renew Europe au sein de la commission des affaires étrangères, a ajouté :

“La démocratie doit être présente en Guinée. Nous condamnons fermement l’assignation à résidence illégale du candidat à la présidence Cellou Dalein Diallo et appelons le président Condé à annuler sans plus tarder cette action injustifiée et illégale. Les droits et libertés individuels doivent être rétablis et respectés”.

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Presidential elections in Guinea: A shimmer of hope in the reign of darkness

The Republic of Guinea has the dubious reputation of being one of Africa’s most corrupt countries, plagued by decades of mismanagement, a ghostly socialist past and autocratic leaders, whose desire to care for themselves and their buddies is haunting the resource rich country.

Now, on 18 October 2020, Guineans are once more called to the elections booths to vote for a new president. Yet there is not much doubt that the old president will also be called the new
one. The 82 year old Guinean autocrat Alpha Condé is seeking a third term in office after he introduced an new constitution with dubious methods to allow him to stay in power. The opposition is subdued by the guns and bayonets of the security forces, while the electoral commission and the justice system are dominated by the president’s cronies.

All in all a picture that is unfortunately very common to Guinea and its history. It seems that the resource rich country, which holds – among other important minerals – about one third of
the world’s bauxite reserves, has a strange destiny to remain poor and badly governed by autocratic rulers. Even the latest experiment in democracy did not start very well. When in
2010, after a military coup that ousted long-term dictator Lansana Conté, civil rule was reestablished, the presidential elections were hardly transparent, nor free and fair. However, Alpha Condé claimed victory in the second round by a narrow margin against the liberal opponent Celiou Dalein Diallo.

What followed was a reversal of the “Saul to Paul conversion” by the craving for power. Condé had originally been a fierce advocate of a democratic opening against the socialist dictatorship of Guinee’s first president Sekou Touré. Being threatened for his life by Touré’s security forces, he exiled himself to Paris in 1964, consequently receiving the death penalty in absentia for treason. Condé roamed the streets of Paris as a revolutionary student in the May 1968 events, which – according to himself – helped him to elaborate some proper socialist ideas. He returned to Guinea after Touré’s death and stayed politically active during the successive military and semi-military governments. In 1998 he challenged the new dictator Lansana Conté in elections for the presidency.

In completely rigged elections, the dictator confirmed his grip to power, after which he had Condé thrown in prison and tortured. This biography gave Condé somewhat of an aura of a Guinean freedom fighter, an image that was properly groomed by his supporters in the country and abroad. It is therefore even more remarkable that someone who went through hardships like that, who once claimed Nelson Mandela as his role model, turned into the best apprentice of his former oppressor.

Condé’s balance sheet for the last ten years is indeed all but negative. Not only was the ever existing endemic corruption further enhanced and spiked with the most remarkable excesses of crony capitalism, but the country as a whole went into decline. Misuse of funds and public budgets lead to a paralyzed administration that could no longer work properly or provide the most basic services to its people. Economic growth was exclusively generated by the export of minerals, while the corresponding fiscal revenues were funnelled away.

Guinea remains one of the poorest countries in Africa with rank 174 on the UN Human Development Index.

Furthermore, apart from his erratic style of governing and serving mainly the kleptocratic elite that courted him to power, Condé was also adopting his predecessor’s methods of repression. Human rights abuses, especially against members of the populous Pheul ethnic group, increased steeply. Local elections were rigged, opposition candidates intimidated and the
security forces strengthened in his favour.

Being re-elected in 2015 for his second and last term, he then turned more and more megalomaniac, being convinced that the country could not do without him. With this in mind, he started his third presidential term project for the 2020 elections, a political move which the Guinean constitution explicitly did not allow. By 2019 he had lost all moderation and went ahead to crush violently the massive opposition coalition that was formed and well supported. Since October 2019 mass demonstrations had swept through towns and cities across Guinea, including the capital. The security forces have put them down ruthlessly with hundreds of deaths so far. The opposition coalition was comprised of all major parties into the “National Front for the Defense of the Constitution¨ (French: Front Nationale pour la Défense de la Constitution (FNDC)”.

Then in March 2020 with the Corona crisis taking away the world’s attention, the president started a mock referendum for a new constitution that would allow him to stand again for the presidency. The project was deliberately called “new constitution” as to give the impression of a “new start” for the Guinean people and not that of a power-obsessed, 82-year-old president who seeks to stay in his palace. Supported by this ridiculous rhetoric the opposition boycotted the referendum and claimed it an illegitimate constitutional coup d’etat. Despite this, the project – went ahead and in the absence of any international election observers the soviet style results of the ballot with 89,7% in favour spoke for themselves.

While the world was busy fighting the Corona pandemic, President Conde fortified his position and prepared the terrain for the elections on October 18th. He posted his allies in the electoral commission and he made sure he had the right people appointed in the courts, so that victory will be assured whatever the real turnout at the voting booth might be. For the same reasons international election observers were reduced to a minimum, with the EU and western nations being politely “not invited” to send any of their experts. The opposition meanwhile split in those
who considered total boycott as the only effective protest and those who were convinced that they must make a stand, even when they have no real chance.

For the latter, the most hopeful candidate is Ceilou Dalein Diallo (CDD), who has decided to stand up a third time against Condé and his ruling party. He comes from the Pheul ethnicity who form a large part of the Guinean population. His party, the “Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea” (French: Union des forces Démocratiques de Guinée, UFDG) was founded in 1991 and is a full member of the Africa Liberal Network and Liberal International.

Being a convinced democrat, CDD decided that it was better to set a sign and fight at the ballot box instead of boycotting the elections. No matter how tampered the results might be, people would at least have a visible alternative, while a mere boycott would just lead to the opposition passing into oblivion. An important factor for his decision to go against the odds was the passivity of the international community, which may well have continued after a boycotted election. Busy with Corona, neither the US nor the EU have taken a strong stand against this constitutional coup d’etat by president Condé.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has so far given only lukewarm statements asking for dialogue without mentioning neither Condé’s shady efforts to stay in power nor condemning the excessive use of force by his security forces. Given the fact that ECOWAS heavyweight Allassane Outtara from Cote d’Ivoire has also recently pushed aside the country’s constitution for seeking a third mandate himself with elections at the end of October, it is unlikely that ECOWAS will become too critical.

France has also avoided any clear comments as president Condé’s network of old French friends successfully play the lobby card in Paris. Open support to the autocratic ruler is coming from the “usual suspect” countries. Condé’s relations with Russia remain strong. The Russian ambassador to Guinea was the only foreign representative, who publicly encouraged Condé to go ahead with his third-term bid. After that, the same ambassador switched sides and now heads the vital RUSAL bauxite and aluminium operations in Guinea.

President Condé can also count on the crucial support – and money – of China. He managed the biggest boost in Guinea’s bauxite production since independence by bringing in a ChineseSingaporean-French consortium that became the country’s largest bauxite exporter. These Russian and Chinese bauxite operations help provide Condé with a war chest that finances his grip to power. With such funding at his disposition and a thoroughly corrupt administration and justice system, it seems to be not too difficult to produce whatever election results may be needed.

However, despite this massive arsenal favouring Condé’s position, the actual election campaign has not been too favourable for him. Against all his assumptions, the people in Guinea seem to be visibly fed up with his rule and his desperate attempt to secure a presidency for life for him and his cronies. The fraudulent referendum and the cozening of the population has left deeper marks than the autocratic president may have suspected. Even in his own ethnicity, the Malinke, enthusiasm for his candidacy looks limited and the usual masses that are payed with foodstuff and cash to attend his political rallies are considerably smaller than expected.

On the other hand, since CDD picked up the gauntlet to go into the presidential race, he is enjoying increasing support, not only from his own Pheul ethnicity, but also in other regions of the country and from the influential Guinean expat community. Like a shimmer of hope he has been drawing the crowds while touring the country in the last four weeks, accusing the government rightfully of all the shortcomings that made the Republic of Guinea into one of the most mismanaged countries on the continent. Condé’s degree of desperation in face of this unexpected situation reflects in the rising amount of violence and oppression used against CDD’s supporters. As campaigning draws to its end, more and more cases of violent intimidation by militants from the ruling Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) party are reported. Roads are blocked and wherever possible campaigning by CDD is hindered. His UFDGs party offices in certain regions are looted and volunteers beaten up by supposedly unknown assailants. The police is not surprisingly passive.

Taking these recent developments, the projections for the elections are rather bleak. To justify his grip to power the results must give Condé a lead by a large margin. Only the support of a massive majority will leave him in the right shine; it will allow him to silence the internal opposition and possible international critics. Electoral fraud will be the obvious way to guaranty such results, but with the ever-rising support for the opposition in the last weeks, any massive fraudulent result in his favour risks to backfire. The Guinean population, especially in the Pheul dominated regions, will not accept these rigged results.

A wave of protest will follow and betrayed voters will massively take to streets. Violence and counter-violence might follow and it is very likely that both, the incumbent and his challenger, will claim an electoral victory. This would be the moment where the international community has to take a stand, as it is highly improbable that Condé will leave his presidential chair voluntarily. Like any autocrat with lifelong ambitions, he has avoided to build up a trustful successor. Internationally he has been isolated in the sub-region for years and his friends in Russia and China care more about the continuity of their mining concessions than his presidency. With his 82 years Condé knows that he has nothing to lose, which might tempt him to go for the extreme and accept any bloodshed to stay in power. In contrast to Condé himself, it is the inner circle of his immediate supporters, that risks to lose everything. They will defect from their erratic doyen, once they realize that his “devil may care attitude” will doom them as well. This would certainly trigger the beginning of the end of his rule.

A swift response by the international community to the elections is therefore imperative. International pressure may be necessary to guarantee that the democratic will of the Guinean people is fulfilled. The regional and sub-regional organisations as well as the EU have the power to put this pressure on the regime. They should demonstrate that they don’t concede to fraudulent elections and autocratic regimes. It is time that international community finally wakes up, because Guinea deserves better than this.

 

Jo Holden (West Africa Director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom)

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La famille libérale africaine salue avec joie la libération de Soumaila Cissé

Son parti, l’Union pour la République et la Démocratie (URD) du Mali est membre à part entière du Réseau qui compte 47 membres. Il en a toujours été un membre actif de part l’engagement de son leader.

Nous souhaitons à Soumaïla un bon retour auprès de sa famille. Que sa santé, eu égard à la dure épreuve de captivité durant plusieurs mois, lui permette de reprendre ses activités sereinement.

Il nous faut ici rappeler que la paix et la stabilité en Afrique nous interpelle toutes et tous. Cela est un combat de chaque instant.

Nous acteurs politiques libéraux devons en faire une priorité afin que les peuples que nous représentons puissent retrouver l’entente et la sérénité d’antant gage du développement économique et social que nous souhaitons accélérer pour le bien-être de nos Nations.

Soumaïla, bon retour chez toi!

Le Président du Réseau Libéral Africain.
Me Gilbert Naamdouda OUEDRAOGO

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German Liberal Politician Visits Mali

Honorable Dr. Christoph Hoffmann  (MdB) for political talks in Bamako

Dr. Christoph Hoffmann, Member of the German Parliament (Bundestag) has visited Mali from 20-24th of September 2020.  Dr. Hoffmann is the first German politician to visit the country after the Coup d’Etat on August 18th. As speaker for International Cooperation of the liberal Free Democratic Party  (FDP) and member of the parliamentary commission for economic cooperation and development, Dr. Hoffmann follows closely the political developments in West-Africa. With the recent events in Mali, he saw the need for a personal fact finding mission that would allow him to better evaluate the political developments and get a more objective picture of the situation on the ground.

In the four days of his mission in Bamako, Dr. Hoffmann met with development organisations, groups of the Malian civil society, from the human rights sector and women associations, the UN led international stabilisation force as well as the West- African Economic Community (ECOWAS). His visit at the headquarters of the liberal partner party and largest parliamentary opposition, Union pour la République et la Démocratie (URD), was a highlight of his stay. Accompanied by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF),  Dr. Hoffmann met with the executive committee of the URD.

The discussions focused on the eventual liberation of the party’s president Soumaila Cissé as well as the URD’s role in the transition process.  There was a general consensus that Mali needed liberal political solutions more urgently than ever. In this context Dr. Hoffmann highlighted the importance of Rule of Law and Transparency as cornerstones for a functioning state. Dr. Holden, the West Africa Director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation emphasized the important cooperation between FNF and URD and pledged continuous support for the URD. As the transition process will be of limited time, the URD will have to be prepared for those general elections that will eventually decide on a new president and parliament. This is a challenge but also a tremendous chance for the liberal cause in Mali.

In the course of his mission in Bamako Dr. Hoffmann also met with the  Vice-President for West-Africa of the African Liberal Network (ALN), Mr Ousmane Ben Fana Traoré as well as with Ms Fatoumata Sako, from the liberal Malian Parti pour le Développement Economique et la Solidarité (PDES).

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