Tag Archives: opposition parties

Japan PM woes persist before vote; party in disarray

in.reuters.com

Japan PM woes persist before vote; party in disarray

TOKYO- july 14 – Japan’s ruling bloc voted down a no-confidence motion against embattled Prime Minister Taro Aso on Tuesday, but chaos deepened within his party as fears grew of a historic defeat in a national election next month.

A loss for Aso’s coalition in the Aug. 30 general election would end half a century of nearly unbroken rule by the pro-business ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), struggling to revive the economy with massive stimulus spending.

The LDP’s woes have raised the chances of the opposition Democratic Party taking control of the lower house and breaking policy deadlocks in parliament, where opposition parties already control the upper chamber and can delay bills.

The Democrats, trying to make the most of the LDP’s falling popularity before the election, submitted a no-confidence motion in the lower house against Aso’s cabinet by criticising its economic policies.

“The cabinet has been spending large amounts of money for the economy but we can only think that it was aimed at winning support for the election,” said Democratic Party leader Yukio Hatoyama. “The measures won’t improve people’s livelihoods.”

As expected, the motion was rejected by the ruling bloc’s majority, although a non-binding but embarrassing censure motion against Aso was adopted by the opposition-controlled upper house. The Democrats plan to boycott debate in parliament before Aso dissolves the lower house early next week.

The Democrats hoped that by forcing LDP lawmakers to back Aso, it would make it harder for his critics in the party to persist in trying to dump him ahead of the election.

Alarmed by falling public support for Aso, lawmakers in the long-ruling party have openly called for him to quit ahead of the election and bring forward a vote for the party leadership set for September.

PARTY DISARRAY

Former LDP Secretary-General Hidenao Nakagawa repeated calls for a leadership change, but Aso has refused to quit.

“We must fight now and it is as a matter of course that we fight united,” Aso told a meeting of lawmakers. “Unless we are united, we won’t be able to fight well.”

Japan has had four LDP leaders in four years and voters may not be impressed with another change at the top. The party lacks an obvious successor who could guarantee a jump in popularity and boost the LDP’s chances in the national poll.

The Democratic Party was not without its own headaches after party leader Yukio Hatoyama apologised for the fact that some people listed as his political donors were dead.

The Democrats’ ambitious spending plans have also come under scrutiny from financial analysts, with some saying policies such as cash allowances for families and free highway tolls could lead to more government bond issuance and push up yields.

But domestic media have focused on the disarray spreading within the LDP. On Tuesday, its chief election strategist, Makoto Koga, offered to quit, although the party’s No. 2 said he would not accept the resignation.

LDP lawmaker Koichi Kato said party leaders had yet to reach consensus on whether to hold a meeting of lawmakers from both chambers of parliament, sought by many of Aso’s critics.

“The secretary-general talked at great length at the end,” he told reporters after a party gathering. “But then a lot of people started to leave the room and in the end there was no conclusion.”

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Congo Republic votes, opposition wants boycott

af.reuters.com

Congo Republic votes, opposition wants boycott

BRAZZAVILLE – Congo Republic voted on Sunday in an election widely expected to give President Denis Sassou-Nguesso another seven years in power and which opposition parties are boycotting over what they say are irregularities.

Investors are watching to see whether the vote sparks a repeat of the conflict and rows that have marred previous elections and disrupts political and economic stability in Africa’s fifth biggest oil producer.

Polling stations opened at around 0600 GMT in the capital, with few voters lining up in the early hours but numbers starting to pick up later in the morning.

“I have just voted. I hope that the president will win. But if he is re-elected, he must tackle the problem of unemployment, increase teachers’ salaries,” said 30 year-old Georges Itoua.

Congo has long produced large amounts of oil but Sassou-Nguesso’s critics say that only a small elite has benefited from it. He is one of three African presidents whose wealth is being investigated by a French judge.

Opposition parties, citing irregularities in voter lists and cards, had called for the vote to be postponed to allow for the creation of a new election commission and the clean up of voter lists, which were a source of complaints during 2002 polls.

“No one should go and vote on Sunday. Stay at home — we don’t want an electoral hold up or a parody of an election,” Clement Mierrassa, head of the Congolese Social Democratic Party, which is part of the coalition calling for a boycott.

The election commission says that some 2.2 million people will be eligible to vote for the 13 candidates. But many say they have not been issued with their cards while opposition parties say an extra 500,000 cards have been printed for fraud.

he European Union has also already criticised the lack of progress made in Congo since elections in 2002.

But the ruling party has mobilised large crowds during campaigning while the divided opposition has struggled to drum up support for its rallies, with some voters preferring to keep the political status quo rather than risk a return to violence.

“You should go and vote for your candidate Denis Sassou-Nguesso in peace. Fear not and go and vote. There will not be any more war in Congo,” the president told a final rally.

EU DISAPPOINTMENT

Disputes in the lead up to the poll have led to tensions and some residents have left the capital, but analysts say violence is unlikely.

Sassou-Nguesso has been in and out of power since a 1979 coup, losing multiparty elections in 1992 before sweeping back into power in a war that destroyed much of the capital in 1997.

He won the last election in 2002, when his main rivals were banned or withdrew, citing irregularities.

“In terms of the electoral process, not much has evolved since 2002 in terms of an administration which does not give clear figures on registration, electoral lists or the process itself,” Miguel Amado, head of the EU mission in Congo said.

“We expected more progress from the government,” he added.

The EU said it was not sending observers to monitor the vote due to priorities elsewhere.

Investors are looking for signs of stability before they diversify into other sectors of the economy such as mining and agriculture, and several deals hinge on the outcome of the poll.

A group of South African farmers have been told they must wait until after polling day to find out if they have secured a multi-million hectare land deal in Congo, one of the largest such deals on the continent.

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