Comoros to Hold Referendum on Presidential Term Limits in July

The Indian Ocean state of Comoros will hold a constitutional referendum in July on presidential term limits that could result in the next vote behind held two years ahead of schedule, its president has said.

The move could allow the President Azali Assoumani, who won the last election in 2016, to run the country for two fresh five year-terms instead of the one five-year term allowed in the constitution. The next vote is scheduled for 2021.

The referendum if passed would do away with a constitution meant to rotate power every five years between the archipelago’s islands.

That system was intended to promote stability and power-sharing in a coup-prone country. Comoros has had more than 20 coups or coup attempts since it declared independence from France in 1975.

“In a case where the referendum will win the support of the population, the presidential election will be held in 2019, not in 2021,” Assoumani said on Sunday during a visit to the island nation of Anjouan.

Under the constitution, the presidency of the Union of Comoros rotates between the three islands of Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli every five years.

Assoumani hails from Grande Comore.

Although details of the referendum are yet to be released, a recently completed national dialogue recommended that a president could be re-elected. This would open the door for a leader to run the country for two five-year terms.

Assoumani, a former military officer, first seized power in a coup in 1999 and ruled until 2006 after winning the country’s first multi-party poll in 2002. He won re-election in 2016.

The president said that, like anyone else holding public office, he would resign ahead of seeking re-election. He did not say when this would happen.

The president also said that he would bring together legal teams to tackle the scandal over the sale of Comoros citizenship, which a parliamentary investigation said had led to millions of dollars in government revenues going missing.

“The economic citizenship affair is very delicate. The credibility and pride of our country have been damaged .. It must be used as an example because those who run states must always know that they can, at any moment, be held accountable for the way they manage public office.”

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Comoros to Hold Referendum on Presidential Term Limits in July

The Indian Ocean state of Comoros will hold a constitutional referendum in July on presidential term limits that could result in the next vote behind held two years ahead of schedule, its president has said.

The move could allow the President Azali Assoumani, who won the last election in 2016, to run the country for two fresh five year-terms instead of the one five-year term allowed in the constitution. The next vote is scheduled for 2021.

The referendum if passed would do away with a constitution meant to rotate power every five years between the archipelago’s islands.

That system was intended to promote stability and power-sharing in a coup-prone country. Comoros has had more than 20 coups or coup attempts since it declared independence from France in 1975.

“In a case where the referendum will win the support of the population, the presidential election will be held in 2019, not in 2021,” Assoumani said on Sunday during a visit to the island nation of Anjouan.

Under the constitution, the presidency of the Union of Comoros rotates between the three islands of Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli every five years.

Assoumani hails from Grande Comore.

Although details of the referendum are yet to be released, a recently completed national dialogue recommended that a president could be re-elected. This would open the door for a leader to run the country for two five-year terms.

Assoumani, a former military officer, first seized power in a coup in 1999 and ruled until 2006 after winning the country’s first multi-party poll in 2002. He won re-election in 2016.

The president said that, like anyone else holding public office, he would resign ahead of seeking re-election. He did not say when this would happen.

The president also said that he would bring together legal teams to tackle the scandal over the sale of Comoros citizenship, which a parliamentary investigation said had led to millions of dollars in government revenues going missing.

“The economic citizenship affair is very delicate. The credibility and pride of our country have been damaged .. It must be used as an example because those who run states must always know that they can, at any moment, be held accountable for the way they manage public office.”

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Chad Parliament Approves New Constitution Expanding President’s Powers

Chad’s parliament on Monday overwhelmingly approved a new constitution that expands President Idriss Deby’s powers and could allow him to stay in

office until 2033, in a vote boycotted by most opposition lawmakers.

The new constitution reimposes a two-term limit scrapped in a 2005 referendum. But it will not be applied retroactively, meaning Deby could serve two terms after the next election in 2021.

The constitution now heads to Deby for his signature.

Deby’s opponents say that the constitution, which eliminates the post of prime minister and creates a fully presidential system, is aimed at installing a de facto monarchy in Chad, an ally of Western nations fighting jihadist groups in West Africa.

The new constitution – approved by a vote of 132 to two — introduces six-year rather than five-year presidential terms. That would mean Deby could stay in power until 2033, when he will be at least 80.

Deby first came to power in a rebellion in 1990. He has recently faced strikes and protests due to budget shortfalls caused by low prices for Chad’s chief export, oil.

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Chad Parliament Approves New Constitution Expanding President’s Powers

Chad’s parliament on Monday overwhelmingly approved a new constitution that expands President Idriss Deby’s powers and could allow him to stay in

office until 2033, in a vote boycotted by most opposition lawmakers.

The new constitution reimposes a two-term limit scrapped in a 2005 referendum. But it will not be applied retroactively, meaning Deby could serve two terms after the next election in 2021.

The constitution now heads to Deby for his signature.

Deby’s opponents say that the constitution, which eliminates the post of prime minister and creates a fully presidential system, is aimed at installing a de facto monarchy in Chad, an ally of Western nations fighting jihadist groups in West Africa.

The new constitution – approved by a vote of 132 to two — introduces six-year rather than five-year presidential terms. That would mean Deby could stay in power until 2033, when he will be at least 80.

Deby first came to power in a rebellion in 1990. He has recently faced strikes and protests due to budget shortfalls caused by low prices for Chad’s chief export, oil.

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Migrant Caravan Remains in Limbo at US Border

A group of about 50 Central American migrants remain in limbo at a U.S. border crossing after U.S. border inspectors said the port of entry did not have enough space to accommodate them.

 

The migrants, who traveled in a caravan to try to seek asylum in the United States, awoke Monday near the border crossing facility in Tijuana, Mexico. On Sunday, the migrants were stopped from entering the San Ysidro facility because officials said it was at capacity.

 

It is not clear how long the migrants might need to wait to be seen by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials. Another 50 to 100 migrants camped in Tijuana say they also plan to try to cross the U.S. border and seek asylum.

Organizers of the caravan say they want the most vulnerable cases to cross the border first, including children under threat.

Many of the migrants are women and children. They are part of a group of several hundred people from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador who spent a month traveling in a caravan through Mexico.

The migrants walked Sunday to the El Chaparral pedestrian crossing wearing white arm bands to distinguish themselves from others at the busy border site.

Nicole Ramos, a lawyer working with the migrants, said they plan to tell border officials they are afraid to return to their home countries.

U.S. President Donald Trump and members of his administration have been tracking the caravan of migrants, calling it a threat to the United States, since it started March 25 in the Mexican city of Tapachula, near the Guatemala border.

Trump sent hundreds of National Guard troops to the border after railing against the migrants and pressuring Mexico to stop the caravan, going as far as to threaten the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mexico rejected the pressure from Trump. Instead, it gave the migrants a one-month transit pass to decide if they want to seek refuge in Mexico, go back home or keep moving toward the United States.

The weeks-long journey by the so-called caravan is an annual, organized trip aimed at drawing attention to the plight of destitute Central Americans. The tradition dates back to 2010.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said asylum claims will be resolved “efficiently and expeditiously.” But she warned that any asylum-seekers making false claims could be prosecuted, as could anyone who assists the migrants in doing so.

Asylum seekers must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution at home. The vast majority of those who apply for asylum in the United States are denied. Those who pass an initial “credible fear” screening are assigned a date in immigration court that is often months away.

 

Trump administration officials say many of those migrants skip their court dates and try to live illegally in the United States. Trump has urged Congress to change what he calls “catch and release laws” to prevent migrants from entering the country before their asylum cases have been heard.

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UK Housing Minister to Run Interior as Immigration Scandal Grows

Britain’s Housing Minister Sajid Javid, the son of Pakistani immigrants, was named Monday to take over the portfolio of the Home Office (interior ministry), which oversees  law enforcement, immigration, and counter-terrorism activities.

Interior minister Amber Rudd resigned Sunday amid a growing scandal over the harsh treatment of elderly immigrants who were brought to the country from the Caribbean seven decades ago.

Rudd told lawmakers last week that the government had not set targets to deport people considered illegal immigrants. But documents have since emerged contradicting her testimony.

She said in her resignation letter to Prime Minister Theresa May Sunday she “inadvertently misled” Parliament about the deportation targets.

Housing Minister Sajid Javid, the son of Pakistani immigrants, was named Monday to take over the portfolio of the Home Office (interior ministry),

May and Rudd have been under increasing fire since the so-called Windrush scandal first emerged several months ago. The scandal gets its name from the ship Empire Windrush, which in 1948 brought the first wave of immigrants from the Caribbean to Britain to help rebuild the country in the aftermath of World War II.

News reports have revealed that many of these immigrants have lost jobs, housing, access to medical care and threatened with deportation because they could not produce documents proving their right to reside in Britain, which was granted by a law passed in 1971.

The harsh treatment of the “Windrush generation” apparently stems from a policy introduced by May during her tenure as interior minister between 2010 and 2016, which called for creating a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants.

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