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Critical Election Year Across French Speaking Africa

2010 is a busy election year for many francophone African nations.  As highlighted by the Mo Ibrahim foundation decision not to  award the 2010 Ibrahim prize for African Leadership, the political progress  in the region has been disappointing for the past two years. Here is a review of how bloggers have reacted to the elections proceedings so far.

Burundi

Burundi has had contested communal elections on May 24 and is getting prepared for presidential elections on June 28. Jina Moore is in the region  and reflects on the elections  in her post ” Whither Democracy in Burundi?“:

Everyone was excited about Burundi's elections. Though there was some violence and intimidation leading up to the first poll in May, it wasn't as bad as it could have been, or even as some of the bigger pessimists thought. And on May 24, when Burundians cast votes in local polls, I am told by multiple people (and in similar language) that there were “some irregularities” but there didn't seem to be “massive fraud.”

That's not what the opposition says. One opposition leader told me the government had cheated the opposition out of poll observers. Another opposition guy told IPS that ballot boxes were switched during a sudden power outage at the end of polling day. [..] Now, the opposition is doing a kind of reverse campaigning — going to the countryside and urging people to boycott what they say will be a sham election. Or at least, that's what they're trying to do. But they keep getting intercepted by government forces.

Côte d'Ivoire

Voters lists in Cote d'Ivoire via UNDP on Flickr-Creative Commons License

There is a recrudescence of tension in Côte d'Ivoire as the country is preparing for presidential elections in December 2010, an election that has already been delayed several times.  Roger Bongos laments the fact that politicians cannot seem to find a common ground [fr]:

Les armes se sont, certes, tues mais le risque est grand que les discours vénéneux que débitent les uns et les autres ravivent des tensions aux quatre coins du pays [..]  Les protagonistes de la scène ont fait le choix de compromettre à nouveau la tenue de l’élection et la sortie définitive de crise avec cette guerre des listes qui commence à gagner toutes les villes, depuis qu’à la mi-janvier le camp présidentiel, Laurent Gbagbo en tête, a accusé la Commission électorale indépendante (CEI), de tentatives de fraude [..] mais pourquoi tant de retard pour organiser ce scrutin qui aurait dû se tenir depuis bien des années ? Si par miracle cette élection a lieu, elle serait la plus coûteuse de l’histoire

The weapons have gone silent but the threat of violence is still high because venomous speeches can still be heard throughout the country [..] The opponents have decided to jeopardize again the electoral proceedings and a definite exit to the crisis with the voter list “war” that has expanded in many cities since January when the presidential camp of Laurent Gbabgo accused the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) of attempts at fraud [..] Why does it take so long to organize elections that should have been held for years now? If by miracle,  this election takes place, it will be the most expensive election in history.

Guinea

Hope is the dominating theme of the historical elections in Guinea where for the first time in their history, Guineans will have democratic elections. Another historical first will be the candidature of Saran Daraba Kaba after years of fighting for women advocacy. The bloggers at Guinee50 are collecting questions that their readers would like to ask the candidate [fr].

Hadja Saran Daraba Guinean 2010 presidential candidate

Bah at Konakry Express explains that measures were taken to make sure that voting ballots are legitimate. He reports what a member of the electoral commission has said [fr]:

Cette fois-ci, aucun militant ne dira qu’il est venu trouver que le bulletin de son candidat est terminé. Nous avons connu ça par le passé. Si on choisi un bulletin de vote, c’est qu’on a choisi le bulletin de tous les candidats. Je crois que c’est une des innovations de ces élections

This time, no activists can say that they ran out of their candidate's ballots. We've heard that before. When one gets a ballot, it will have all the candidates on it. This is one of the innovation of these elections.

Madagascar

Like in Côte d'Ivoire, elections have been announced several times in Madagascar to only be delayed until the new projected date of October 2010. The delay was caused by many disagreements on who would be allowed to run and who would oversee the proceedings. Ndimby argues that elections will only be legitimate if some basic democratic values are respected beforehand [fr]:

Car comment la HAT peut-elle prétendre rechercher l’apaisement et la sortie de crise, alors que de l’autre côté, intimidations, emprisonnements et tabassage en règle d’opposants et de journalistes continuent. Et il est risible de voir les arguties juridiques sorties par les griots à la solde du régime pour aboyer sur les opposants qui font des rassemblement interdits, ou les militaires qui font des mutineries.

How can the HAT (transtional government) pretend to reach for appeasement and an exit to the crisis
when the arrests, intimidations and the beating of journalists and opponents still go on. It is therefore ridiculous to see legal “experts” who are working for the regime try to sermon the opposition about forbidden meetings or reprimand soldiers about mutinous activities.

Rwanda

Elections are scheduled for August 9, 2010 in Rwanda. An update on voters registration begins this week. Concerns and tensions have been mounting for a while in anticipation of the elections as several grenade attacks were reported in the past few months. Associazione Umoja posts a report in which Rwandan opposition asks the US to help defuse tension:

Rights groups say the government and the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) have become increasingly intolerant of dissent and criticism in the run-up to the vote, which President Paul Kagame is widely expected to win.

Senegal

In Senegal, although the next elections are scheduled in 2012, the opposition has been increasingly vocal in their allegations of corruption under the Wade regime. Souleymane Jules Diop reflects on the legitimacy of future elections in Senegal [fr]:

Le caractère délinquant du pouvoir d’Abdoulaye Wade, son entêtement et son aveuglement sont tels qu’il m’est impossible de voir cet homme organiser des élections transparentes à l’issue desquelles il accepterait sa défaite et partirait de lui-même. [..] Les scandales se répètent, les preuves d’un dérèglement du Sopi s’accumulent. Mais Abdoulaye Wade n’a jamais varié dans son intention de couvrir les crimes de ses proches [..] la protection du clan est au-dessus de toutes les morales.

The delinquent nature of the Abdoulaye Wade regime and his stubbornness are such that it is impossible for me to see this man organize transparent elections that may lead to his defeat and departure [..] Scandals keep coming and the evidence of dysfunction at Sopi are accumulating. But Abdoulaye Wade never strayed from his willingness to cover for his acquaintances’ crimes [..] the protection of the clan is above all moral requirements.

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