News / Africa

Africa’s Many Elections Reap Few Rewards

World-renowned Senegalese singer Youssou Ndour announced that he was running for president against incumbent Abdoulaye Wade in February 26 elections, (File).
World-renowned Senegalese singer Youssou Ndour announced that he was running for president against incumbent Abdoulaye Wade in February 26 elections, (File).

Much like in 2011, there will be many elections across sub-Saharan Africa in 2012, including presidential polls now scheduled in Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Mali, Madagascar, Sierra Leone and possibly Zimbabwe. Oil-rich Angola is working on setting up legislative elections, with the leader of the winning party becoming president.  Some analysts say they believe these elections often reap few rewards for voters.

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Supreme Court recently confirmed results in the last of many presidential elections in sub-Saharan Africa in 2011.  The high court rejected opposition complaints of widespread fraud, and confirmed the victory of incumbent President Joseph Kabila.

Kabila has been in power since taking over after his father’s assassination in 2001, promising to modernize and rebuild the mineral-rich country after years of corruption and conflict.

But development experts, human rights activists and corruption watchdogs believe little is changing in the DRC, even though Kabila has had an elected mandate since 2006.

Leonard Wantchekon is the founding director of the Benin-based Institute for Empirical Research in Political Economy.

“Elections in itself are great, having several political alternatives to choose from, different parties to choose from, that is great,” he said.

But he says there are concerns across Africa that democratic progress is not leading to enough social change.

“The disappointment is that it is not clear whether holding more elections improves education outcome, health outcome, whether the countries are better governed and whether there is less corruption, actually, now there is more corruption than there used to be,” Wantchekon stated.

Other presidential elections in 2011 took place in Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, the Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, the Gambia, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, the Seychelles, Uganda and Zambia. Also, a 2010 presidential poll in Ivory Coast finally came to a bloody resolution last year after months of unrest.

Gnaka Lagoke, who runs the widely read African Diplomacy website, is another analyst who is both hopeful but also concerned with all these elections. “It is good to see that even though there are wars and people are fighting over elections, at least it is good to notice it is vibrant and the African masses are practicing freedom. But we still see the West is doing everything possible to control those elections,” he said.

Lagoke alleges that Western governments and non-governmental organizations apply different types of pressure to get what he calls the good for business-as-usual candidate elected or re-elected, such as Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who won a new mandate last year.

“They have several methods. In the case of Liberia, for instance, when they give a Nobel Peace Prize to a candidate [2011 re-elected President Sirleaf], a sitting president, it boosts the popularity in the country, that is one way," said Lagoke. "The second thing we can say is that all of those observers who go to Africa, the non-governmental organizations, all of them, they will say in chorus the elections were fair because the West has decided a particular candidate they favor is supposed to be the leader."

Lagoke says that what he calls the business-as-usual leaders retain military and economic arrangements suitable to Western interests and existing African political elites. He says even when Western powers and donor nations criticize an election, they do nothing to change the situation, beyond a promise to push for progress in future elections.

Western embassies repeatedly deny interfering in African elections. Election winners in Africa often respond that those who complain about elections are being sore losers, looking for any excuse to justify a defeat at the polls.

These debates, accusations and even violent clashes between political camps are very likely in 2012, with high-stakes elections being held across the continent.

An early contest will be next month, with popular singer Youssou N'Dour now joining many other opposition candidates trying to defeat the incumbent octogenarian leader Abdoulaye Wade in Senegal's February 26 presidential poll.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs