Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
By Isaac Esipisu
There are many reasons for being angry with Africa ’s strong men, whose autocratic ways have thrust some African countries back into the eye of the storm and threatened to undo the democratic gains in other parts of the continent of the past decades.
For those who made ultimate political capital from opposing strongman rule in their respective countries, it is a chilling commentary of African politics that several leaders now seek to cement their places and refusing to retire and watch the upcoming elections from the sidelines, or refusing to hand over power after losing presidential elections.
In 2012 one of the longest strong men of Africa, President Abdoulaye Wade’s country Senegal is holding its presidential elections together with other countries like Sierra Leon, Mali, Mauritania, Malagasy, and will be shortly followed by Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Yoweri Museveni and Paul Biya of Cameroon , who are among the longest-ruling leaders of the Africa , won their respective presidential elections and continue to have a stronghold on their respective countries, albeit with charges raised of serious election malpractice. Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo Republic and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe will in one or two years face the electorate in an effort to further cement their authoritarian leadership.
TV images of an incredulous Laurent Gbagbo being forcibly evicted from power this week by United Nations- and French-backed Ivorian soldiers send an unequivocal message to other leaders across the continent: outstay your welcome and it could be you next.
Monday’s storming of his Abidjan residence by troops loyal to Alassane Ouattara – whom the rest of the world months ago recognised as winner of the Nov. 28 election – came after Gbagbo was disowned by even his closest African peers.
“This is an African solution to an African problem,” was African Union chief Jean Ping’s reasoning for another round of negotiations to resolve Ivory Coast’s bitter leadership dispute.
Regional leaders and the outside world had been uncharacteristically swift to condemn Laurent Gbagbo’s bid to cling onto power. The AU itself wasted little time suspending the West African nation from the bloc.
Ugandans love to talk. And, unlike in some other African countries, few people are afraid to be heard talking politics. Cafes and bars in Kampala and elsewhere hum to the sound of politicians being loudly verbally skewered.
The politicos themselves are not much different. Rhetoric is being ratcheted up ahead of elections on February 18. And the opposition are not holding back.
One of the few positives of Sudan’s elections, dubbed to be the first open vote in 24 years but marred by opposition boycotts and accusations of fraud, was a tiny opening of democratic freedom in Africa’s largest country.
Direct press censorship was lifted from Sudan’s papers and opposition politicians were given an albeit limited platform to address the population through state media.
The death of Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua is unlikely to plunge Africa’s most populous state into crisis, but it intensifies what was already shaping up to be the fiercest succession race since the end of military rule.
Yar’Adua has been absent from the political scene since last November, when he left for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, and his deputy Goodluck Jonathan has been running the country since February and has since consolidated his position.
Sudan has witnessed the end of what was supposed to be a historic event.
The first multi-party polls in almost quarter of a century to elect leaders on all levels, including the presidency held by Omar Hassan al-Bashir for 21 years.
But far from joy in the streets or pride in a job well done, there was just a sigh of relief.
When it takes place in Sudan.
Preparations for Sudan’s general elections — due to start tomorrow — were thrown into confusion over the past two weeks as opposition parties issued contradictory statements over whether they were boycotting the polls.
Some announced a total withdrawal, protesting against fraud and unrest in Darfur, only to change their minds days later. Others pulled out from parts of the elections — presidential, parliamentary and gubernatorial votes are taking place at the same time — then changed their minds days later. Others left it up to individual candidates to decide.
This is likely to be the question hotly debated in the more self-aware international observer missions covering Sudan’s elections, due to start on Sunday and marred by a wave of boycotts and claims of fraud.
Sudan’s first multi-party polls in almost quarter of a century had promised to be fiercely contested until revelations of irregularities caused boycotts by several parties.
Hosting a rare debate between Sudan’s much-maligned National Elections Commission (NEC) and opposition parties, the privately owned Blue Nile television was taking a risk broadcasting live to the nation.
In a country where, ahead of April’s first multi-party elections in 24 years, party political broadcasts are pre-recorded and censored, the evening promised to be fun.