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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More