Libya: in Derna, one month after the storm, trauma and solidarity

Libya: in Derna, one month after the storm, trauma and solidarity

Nearly a month after the disaster, the flood-hit Libyan city of Derna is still experiencing devastation and destruction.

Young residents of the city recently launched a volunteer campaign to help the victims and clean the city from the rubble left by the floods.

The initiative, entitled "Campaign of Derna with the help of its youth" and which has already started operating, brings together young people who say they are ready to clean up and help citizens whose homes have been exposed to floods and rain, as well as cleaning shops and mosques and removing rubble from roads, despite very limited resources.

Abubaker Mansuri, owner of a cafe and hair salon, says his downtown businesses have been cleaned.

He served free coffee to the volunteers to boost their morale, as well as the townspeople.

Waleed Othman, one of the survivors, surveyed the extensive damage to his home and belongings as he tried every day to remove accumulated dirt and rubble.

Othman, who was also able to save his family the night of the disaster, explains that the roof of the house collapsed and the water took away all his belongings and personal papers. He adds that the floods also swept away his parents, friends and neighbors.

The Libyan authorities had promised to rebuild the stricken city and allocated a large budget for this purpose, but they have not yet launched the project, given the political chaos in which the country is plunged.

Survivors still suffer from the psychological burden of the disaster caused by the loss of loved ones and possessions.

The tragedy left thousands of residents of the town of Derna dead and more than 42,000 people displaced after their homes were lost or damaged, according to the latest figures from the International Organization for Migration ( IOM ) .

IOM says the urgent needs of displaced people are food, clean water, mental health and psychosocial support.

Presidential election in Liberia: after the vote, time for counting the votes

Liberians voted on Tuesday, without major incident, to choose their future president, with the outgoing and former world football star George Weah starting favorite against 19 competitors.

More than 2.4 million voters were called to the polls in this small English-speaking country in West Africa which dreams of development and peace after years marked by wars and epidemics. In addition to their president, they also chose their 73 representatives and 15 senators.

Polling stations located at Nancy Doe Market, in central Monrovia, closed at 6:00 p.m. (local and GMT). Joseph Kollie, president of one of them, was delighted with a strong participation and a peaceful vote. The counting then began.

The Liberians came in large numbers and enthusiastically. More than an hour before the opening of the voting centers in Monrovia, hundreds of people crowded under the sun to exercise their right.

“I am so happy to vote. We pray that the president stays in power for six more years ,” enthused Sundaymar J. Jaycon, a 36-year-old professor.

President Weah voted mid-morning in Paynesville, a suburb of the capital.

"I am confident because I have worked a lot and people have confidence in me. I hope to win in the first round," he told AFP after casting his ballot in the ballot box.

A second round between the two leading candidates is planned for early November unless one candidate obtains an absolute majority in the first.

The chair of the Electoral Commission, Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, as well as international observers indicated that there were no major incidents, and highlighted the high turnout.

The vote was only locally disrupted by heavy rain.

The Electoral Commission (NEC) will start making results public from Wednesday as counting progresses and will communicate the final results within 15 days.

Presidential election in Madagascar: Rajoelina says he is confident of victory

Outgoing Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina promised Tuesday "an orange wave" in the presidential election at the beginning of November, the color of his party, during the official launch of his campaign in front of several thousand supporters in the capital Antananarivo: 

"Our victory is obvious, we will win. Even if there are people who try to take this victory away from us. Even if there are many people who want to bring us down. It will not affect us."

The first round of voting on November 9 on the large island in the Indian Ocean is being prepared in a climate which has continued to deteriorate in recent weeks, with the opposition denouncing a plot by those in power to favor Rajoelina.

Opposition gatherings have been prevented for more than a week, with the police using tear gas on supporters of the "collective of eleven", an alliance of convenience of candidates who will individually oppose the outgoing president in the urns.

“ Go all over Madagascar to create an orange wave ,” urged Rajoelina from a stage set up in the middle of a pine forest in Akamasoa, in the suburbs of Antananarivo.

“ No one will be able to take victory away from us,” he continued in front of a crowd including supporters who came dressed in their Sunday best in luxury cars and residents of the deprived neighborhood living off what they found in the local dump.

Andry Rajoelina, 49, came to power in 2009 following a mutiny that chased out Marc Ravalomanana. Banned from running by the international community in 2013, Rajoelina was elected in 2018.

Last month, ten opposition candidates denounced “an institutional coup” orchestrated by those in power.

The High Constitutional Court rejected three appeals demanding the invalidation of Rajoelina's candidacy "for lack of Malagasy nationality". At the end of June, press reports revealed that he had been naturalized French on the sly in 2014.

The country's highest court subsequently appointed an interim government led by Prime Minister Christian Ntsay, close to Rajoelina. In accordance with the Constitution during an electoral period, President Rajoelina ceased to exercise power one month before the election.

The interim was normally to be carried out by the President of the Senate, who however declined for “personal reasons”. Herimanana Razafimahefa, however, reversed his decision in a letter addressed to the High Constitutional Court dated Tuesday and of which AFP had a copy.

Denouncing "pressure" in the media, he explained that he was now "determined to assume my responsibilities" because "the specter of a political crisis once again threatens Madagascar."

Candidate Andry Raobelina, injured in the face by a fragment of a tear gas grenade during an opposition rally last week, also filed a request to postpone the vote for "force majeure", declared to the AFP the president of his party, Hajo Andrianainarivelo.

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