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Presidential Contenders Both Declare Victory in Guinean Race

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

Two finalists in Guinea’s first national election have both declared victory, complicating the West African country’s first democratic exercise, after 52 years of authoritarian rule.

Veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde was officially declared the winner in a surprise upset as he had received only 18% in an earlier poll. Candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo, who was comfortably ahead in the first round of voting, received several thousand votes less than Conde in the final vote. His supporters immediately cried foul and clashed with riot police.

After the results were declared on Nov. 15, Conde, 72, reached out to Diallo, saying "The time has come to join hands.” Diallo, 58, a former prime minister, said he is planning an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The contestants hail from Guinea's two largest ethnic groups, the Peul and Malinke. Diallo’s Peul community has never held the presidency while the Malinke are heavily represented in the ruling military junta.

A former French colony, Guinea is mineral-rich with as much as half of the world’s reserves of bauxite, and significant deposits of gold and diamonds. Still, it is ranked near the bottom of 182 countries on the U.N.’s Human Development Index.

Meanwhile, a New York-based group that monitored Guinea's historic election via text messages from voters is now monitoring outbreaks of violence between the nation's opposing parties.

Jennifer Swift-Morgan of Alliance Guinea said rioting in the capital city of Conakry prevented verification of the SMS allegations. The main goal now, she said, "is to make sure the world knows this crisis has broken out."

Attorney General Files $168 Million Suit Against Company Over Election Day Robocalls

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By George Barnette, Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American Newspapers (DC) –

An Election Day robocall sent to Democratic voters in the state of Maryland telling them to “relax” and that the election was over—an apparent attempt to get them to stay home and not vote—has been traced back to Universal Elections, a company hired by Republican Robert Ehrlich’s gubernatorial campaign.

Julius Henson, owner of Universal Elections, took responsibility for the calls.

“Universal Elections made the call and it was my decision to make the call,” Henson said. “It’s really nonsensical that [the complaint about the call] is coming from the people who won by 14 points and were leading by 14 points for more than a week.”

The call was placed through the Pennsylvania-based company robodial.org. That company said the call was placed through an account maintained by Rhonda Russell, an employee for Universal Elections.

“I’m calling to let everyone know that Governor O’Malley and President Obama have been successful,” the woman’s voice on the call said. “Our goals have been met. The polls were correct and we took it [the governor’s office] back. We’re ok. Relax, everything is fine. The only thing left is to watch on TV tonight. Congratulations and thank you.”

Word of the call spread as the polls closed on Election Night, outraging many of the state’s prominent Democrats, who saw it as an attempt to curtail late Democratic support and give Republicans an edge. Among those Democrats who denounced the call was Prince George’s County, Md. Executive-elect Rushern Baker.

“I am shocked by the news of a robocall targeting residents of Prince George’s County intended to dissuade voting earlier this evening,” Baker said in an election-night statement. “This isn’t dirty politics, it’s un-American. I hope those behind this call are investigated and exposed for their attempt to suppress everyone’s right to cast a ballot.”

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was quick to denounce the calls in a statement released last week. “I was deeply troubled to hear this misleading robocall targeting Baltimore City residents urging them to relax and stay home as if the election was over and the polls have been closed,” Rawlings-Blake said. “Sadly, this [is the] kind of gutter politics that we have come to expect from Bob Ehrlich and the Republican Party.”

Henson said that the call did not explicitly urge Democrats who hadn’t voted yet to stay home.

“The call was counterintuitive,” he said. “We felt that the people who’d already gone and voted were voting for the opposition and the people who had not voted, and because they hadn’t voted, were mostly likely not going to vote for the incumbent. We were trying to get them [Republicans] to go to the polls and vote.”

“It never said ‘don’t vote’ or anything like that,” Henson continued. “It was an attempt to get to voters who were not going to vote and it was a lot of them because they didn’t like their choice - the incumbent.”

Andy Barth, spokesman for the Ehrlich campaign, did not comment on the issue. Henson did not comment regarding his connection to the Ehrlich campaign.

Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, confirmed that an investigation into the call is underway.

“It is deeply troubling that an operative working for Bob Ehrlich's campaign was responsible for this shameful and illegal attempt to deceive Maryland voters,” Maryland Democratic Party Chair Susan Turnbull said in a statement. “We hope the Ehrlich campaign will fully disclose their role in this unfortunate episode and cooperate fully with any ongoing investigations in the matter. The right to vote is precious in a democracy and anyone who attempts to deny that right to citizens should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

District Attorney Clears NAACP of Wrongdoing

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Special to the NNPA from the Milwaukee Community Journal –

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office announced it has cleared the Milwaukee Branch NAACP of any criminal wrongdoing.

The District Attorney’s investigation was the result of accusations made by a small group of members and office seekers.

They reportedly accused the Milwaukee branch’s leadership of thievery, malfeasance, and of literally operating a criminal enterprise from the offices of the local branch.

A press statement by the Milwaukee branch said the District Attorney (DA) found no evidence of the aforementioned allegations. The DA’s findings mirror findings of an earlier investigation by the NAACP’s national office that also found no wrongdoing by the local branch.

Nevertheless, the allegations—many of which were unsubstantiated—have taken their toll on the local branches operations.

The Milwaukee branch has experienced a decrease in contributions totaling $200,000, as a result of what local NAACP officials called a “smear campaign.”

Despite the allegations and investigations, branch President Jerry Ann Hamilton said the Milwaukee branch never stopped working toward accomplishing the NAACP’s duel mission of ensuring equal opportunities and eliminating racial hatred.

“We are hopeful, but not entirely confident, this will bring an end to this bitter, relentless, and at times very personal smear campaign,” Hamilton said in a press statement.

First elected branch president in 1998, Hamilton, along with members of her family involved in the organization, have been at the center of the ongoing controversy that has cast a cloud over the organization. She is stepping down at the end of her current term after branch elections are held November 20.

Wendell Harris, Milwaukee NAACP first vice president and one of two candidates to replace Hamilton, said the local branch is fortunate to have the unwavering support of dedicated volunteers.

“We have been able to achieve civil rights victories in an atmosphere where many organizations would not have been able to keep their doors open,” Harris said. “We persevered. This is a testament to the strength, character, and loyalty of our volunteers.”

Harris noted the branch’s recent success in helping to defeat the MPS takeover plan, assisting with the 2010 Census, and in reopening the investigation of the bar owner who burned a statue of President Barack Obama inside her establishment.

“The mission of the NAACP must continue uninterrupted,” Hamilton said. “Despite the smear campaign, the current administration pledges to work diligently with the next administration, whomever it may be, to ensure a smooth transition so as not to cause a disruption of NAACP activities.

“The NAACP is larger than any petty squabble by disgruntled members,” Hamilton said.

Reports: Church Can't 'Confirm or Deny' Bishop Long had Intimate Relations with Accusers

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By Robert Naddra, Special to the NNPA from The Champion Newspaper –

A week after Bishop Eddie Long denied allegations that he coerced former members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church into sexual relationships, the church admitted that Long took them on trips but could not “confirm or deny” that Long had intimate relationships with his accusers, according to reports.

The Lithonia church, represented by the law firm Drew Eckl Farnham, filed its response Nov. 7 in DeKalb County State Court.

The LongFellows Youth Academy also filed responses last week. LongFellows is the church’s mentoring program for male youth ages 13 to 18 years old. LongFellows is named in three of the four lawsuits against Long.

In Long’s response last week, he admitted providing “opportunities for travel, education and personal growth” to many members of the New Birth congregation. However, he denied having sexual relationships with any of the four men. He also denied using money from New Birth or LongFellows Academy to “entice” the accusers with clothes, jewelry, and electronics.

Each of Long’s responses, filed last week by attorney Craig Gillen, stated in the introduction, “The Plaintiff’s claims of sexual misconduct are not true.”

The church, as well as Long, acknowledged that the pastor would sometimes share a hotel room on trips with members of the congregation.

“The church understands that Bishop Long often shared hotel rooms with members of the congregation while traveling,” New Birth’s response stated according to reports.

Anthony Flagg, Jamal Parris, Maurice Robinson and Spencer LeGrande each filed separate lawsuits last September. Each claimed that Long lured them into sexual relationships with money, employment, gifts and lavish trips to New York, Las Vegas, and Africa, among others places.

All four men are represented by Atlanta attorney B.J. Bernstein. A spokeswoman at The Bernstein Firm said that Bernstein had no comment on the responses by Long or New Birth.

CBC Says Newly-Elected Black Republicans Will Be Welcomed

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By Zenitha Prince, Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American Newspapers (DC) –

Election Day victories for two Black Republicans raise a rare question in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 112th Congress: How will two African-American members of the Grand Old Party interact with the Congressional Black Caucus?

Fourteen Black Republicans ran for Congress in the Nov. 2 mid-term elections but, after all the votes were counted, only Tim Scott, a South Carolina businessman, and Allen West, a Florida-based Army veteran of the Iraq War, will take seats. They are the first African-American Republicans to be elected to Congress since 1995.

In an e-mailed statement to the AFRO CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said unequivocally, “Should either of the two African American Republicans recently elected to the House of Representatives request membership in the Congressional Black Caucus they will be welcomed.”

The decision reflected the sentiments of an overwhelming majority of AFRO.com poll voters, who said the men should be admitted.

So far, West has said he wants to be part of the CBC, while Scott is still undecided and is leaning toward not participating.

“It’s really heartening to see this type of diversity demonstrated in African-American representation,” NAACP Washington Bureau Chief Hilary Shelton said. “[Republican Party Chairman] Michael Steele deserves credit for seeing more African Americans seeking office under the Republican banner.”

He added, “They could be a real asset to the strategy of passing legislation in the House and in advancing the CBC [Congressional Black Caucus] agenda ... It’s very difficult to get things through without the cooperation of Democrats and Republicans.”

Not everyone is as sure about the Republican freshmen’s value to the CBC, which was created in 1969 as a Capitol Hill advocate for the nation’s African Americans. While membership is open to all African-American lawmakers, its members have been overwhelmingly Democrats, with only Republicans Melvin Evans, of the Virgin Islands, and Gary Franks, of Connecticut, ever becoming CBC members. Though invited, J.C. Watts, a Black Republican who represented Oklahoma from 1995 to 2003, declined membership. Sen. Edward Brooke, a Massachusetts Republican who served in the Senate from 1967 through 1979, was not publicly invited and refused to join a CBC boycott of President Richard Nixon’s State of the Union address in 1971 although he criticized the Nixon administration’s approach to the Black community and civil rights.

“The name of the group is not the Congressional Black Democratic Caucus, it’s the Black Caucus. [And] if they go back to their founding principles then these two men should be welcomed with open arms,” said Black Republican political strategist Raynard Jackson. But, he predicted, even though West and Scott have been invited, “this group will make a hostile environment for another Black [Republican] based on them not being compatible in their philosophical leaning.”

Echoing statements by Chairwoman Lee in an Oct. 22 article in The Economist, Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards told the AFRO, “If they’re aligned with the interests of working people, particularly African-Americans, who struggle and they want to work with us to advance those interests," they would be a good addition to the caucus. But, she added, “what I know of them and their agendas, it is difficult for me to see how that would work [though] it might make for some interesting discussions.”

Backed by the national tea party and elected to office by mostly White voters, Scott and West have decidedly conservative agendas, including limited government, lowered taxes, and cuts in government spending. Jackson said that, even among GOP ranks, the men are considered to be far, far right of center, making them almost incompatible with the mostly liberal members of the CBC.

“These boys are crazy; they’re tea party people,” Jackson told the AFRO. “I’ve had White people calling me up saying these guys are extremely conservative and so far out of the mainstream. Can you see them talking with Maxine Waters? I’d like to be a fly on the wall.”? But, he added, “If I were them, I’d join just to push the issue.”

West, in a Politico interview, indicated his interest in joining the CBC. “That has been a monolithic voice in the body politic for far too long. There is a growing conservative Black voice in this country,” that needs to be heard, West told the publication.

Scott, on the other hand, told Politico he is less willing to join, pointing to his experience in the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus and the dissonance between him and Black Democrats.

Though White Republicans are excited by these two additions to the House, saying their victories signal a potential increase in the number of Black conservatives, the new additions will not incite more Blacks to join the party “if they’re saying the same thing White conservatives are saying," Jackson said. "It’s not the messenger; it’s the message. You can’t send a Black to say the same things Pat Buchanan says."

“In a lot of ways,” Jackson added, “it would be better not to have these guys in these positions because it gives the White folks in the party a way out” of having to create real change, “especially if they [Scott and West] have no real power.”

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