News / Africa

Africans Bewildered by ‘Silly’ Election Issues

Obama / 2012 Victory
Obama / 2012 Victory

Related Articles

Joe DeCapua
An African analyst observing the U.S. elections said he was surprised by the long voter queues and logistical problems at some polling centers. Ebrahim Fakir, of the Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa, in Johannesburg, said the presidential and congressional elections always draw worldwide attention.


“I think this is true because of the way in which U.S. popular culture, U.S. politics…loom large across the world,” he said. He added that there was “massive interest” among many people outside the United States about Obama-related allegations he described as “quite silly,” including speculation about Mr. Obama’s identity, his birthplace and religious persuasion.

Fakir said, “I think many people around the world were quite surprised, in fact, shocked, at the level of debate around some of these issues.”

The many political polls used in the elections, he said, created confusion among observers.

“I think if one believed many of the opinion polls, then one was frankly quite bewildered. And so there came a point in watching this process in which one had to stop looking at the opinion polls, because there were as many outcomes predicted as there were opinion polls,” he said.

Tuesday’s long voter queues and waiting times are something not usually seen in U.S. elections. They are more common in developing countries.

“That also came as quite a surprise,” he said, “but it’s not just the long queues. What is even more disturbing were reports…many electoral officials were not [aware of] the procedures and processes. And this severely affects the way in which an election is administered and managed.”

Fakir said that while the American people trusted the election process, some may have found it frustrating and could be discouraged from voting in the future.

“It appears as if that the one place where everyone looked for efficiencies in the electoral administration and the electoral management is in fact making a slight reversal,” he said.

Fakir said he is not surprised by the sharp political divisions in the U.S.

“I’m not sure that that’s something that should be disturbing. In fact that is the nature of politics. Politics is about competition. Politics is about some level of conflict. Politics is about contestation. You’re not always going to have consensus-seeking approaches to politics,” he said.

Nevertheless, two areas where he said the president and members of congress need to reach a consensus are the economy and budget deficit.

Fakir said many people in Africa will be looking for a second Obama administration to fulfill the promises of his first term.

“Even incremental progress would be something that would be welcomed, particularly in countries of Africa, to be able to stimulate a greater amount of trade, some level of aid and to help…entrepreneurship so that there’s a greater amount of job creation and at least some level of economic growth and a modest level of redistribution of resources within these societies,” he said.

Fakir is manager of the Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa’s Political Parties Parliamentary Support Program.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs