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).
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid