[JURIST] Leading Friday's international brief, opposition members in Togo [government website in French] clashed with police on the first day of political campaigning for the national elections required by the resignation [JURIST report] of Faure Gnassingbe [BBC profile]. Protesters blocked off several streets with barricades of burning tires and were dispersed by the police firing tear gas into the crowd. Faure's agreement to step down after he was placed into the presidency by the nation's military led to the scheduling of national presidential elections for April 24, a date contested by the majority of the oppostion groups as too soon to allow for free and fair elections. Opposition parties have alleged the government distribution of voter cards has favored government party strongholds and have kept opposition members from gaining their cards. Togo's interim President Abass Bonfoh issued a statement [government press story in French] Thursday calling on both sides to follow election procedures and preserve a 'climate of peace.' JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Togo [JURIST news archive]. BBC News has more.
In other international legal news …
- The Kenyan Chapter [advocacy website] of the International Commission of Jurists [advocacy website] released a report Thursday that evaluated the state of the judiciary in Kenya [governments website] in light of the government's push to root out judicial corruption. The report, based on a fact-finding mission conducted in December 2004, alleged that the government's efforts to root out corruption were at best flawed for failing to provide basic rights to judges and magistrates accused of corruption, and were often self-serving in pushing out judges that failed to fall in line with government policy. The report also criticized the methods used for appointing acting judges to fill vacancies, saying that there was a lack of transparency in the appointment process. Read the ICJ-Kenya official press release. Read the ICJ-Kenya summary of the report. The East African Standard has local coverage.
- King Abdullah II [official website] of Jordan [government website] swore in a new cabinet Thursday after the old cabinet resigned under harsh criticism from the King concerning the pace of reforms in the country. Adnan Badran, a Michigan State University graduate, was appointed the new Prime Minister and pledged to speed the King's desired reforms as quickly as possible. King Abdullah has been a strong advocate of educational, economic, and technological reforms in the country, and has expressed a desire to see Jordan become a regional informational and technological hub. While the King has pushed for greater participation of political parties and women in the political process, he has been criticized for curbing the freedoms of the press and unions. AP has more.
- The tiny African nation of Djibouti held its presidential elections today amid police use of tear gas and batons to break up a protest of the one-candidate polls. Current Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh is the only candidate standing for office, in what oppostion protesters called a rigged election. Djibouti is currently used as a base for US military forces, but has even begun to lose support from the US, as the US State Department issued a report [official text] in March which criticized the government for failing to allow its people to create democratic change. The single-candidate election has already been condemned as unfair by human rights groups and the US. Reuters has more.