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Nigeria election: Early results show close race

Counting is under way but the announcement of results has already been delayed

Early results from Nigeria's election show little separating the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan, and ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.

With eight states and the capital Abuja declared, President Jonathan's People's Democratic Party (PDP) has a lead of about 20,000 votes.

Final results in the closely contested poll are due Tuesday. The US and UK in a joint statement expressed concern over possible "political interference" in the count.

"So far, we have seen no evidence of systemic manipulation of the process," said the statement from UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

"But there are disturbing indications that the collation process, where the votes are finally counted, may be subject to deliberate political interference."

Nigeria's election commission (Inec) dismissed these fears, with a spokesman telling the AFP agency "there is absolutely no basis" to talk of meddling.

Of the nine regions announced, the PDP has taken four, with 2,322,734 votes, and Gen Buhari's All Progressives Congress (APC) taking five, with 2,302,978 votes.

Police in the battleground Rivers State have used teargas against female opposition protesters who were attempting to lodge complaints with election officials of alleged rigging.

Voting spilled into Sunday in some parts of Nigeria after problems were encountered with new electronic card readers.

President Jonathan was among those whose registration to vote was delayed by the technology, which was introduced to prevent fraud.

The PDP, which had opposed the card readers, called it a "huge national embarrassment".

Election commission chief Attahiru Jega said only a fraction of the 150,000 card readers being used nationwide had failed.

The presidential and parliamentary elections had been delayed by six weeks because of the insurgency by Boko Haram militants.

The Islamists attacked polling stations in north-eastern states, with a curfew declared in Bauchi State after fighting between the security forces and the group.

The UN gave an upbeat assessment of the vote on Sunday, with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praising the "determination and resilience" of Nigerian voters, despite the reports of attacks by Boko Haram and others.

He said in a statement voting had been "largely peaceful and orderly".

His comments were echoed by the regional bloc Ecowas, which urged Nigerians to accept the result.

The PDP has dominated Nigerian politics since 1999, but the APC is viewed as a serious challenge.

Voters are also electing members of the house of representatives and the senate.

BBC

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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