News / Africa

Africans Bewildered by ‘Silly’ Election Issues

Obama / 2012 Victory
Obama / 2012 Victory

Related Articles

Multimedia

Audio
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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid