Africa News blog
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On the face of it, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir got the perfect election result.
His victory with 68 percent was not too high that it would spark concerns of fraud but high enough above the 50 percent needed for a win for him to be able fly in the face of the disapproving West.
Bashir is now the only elected sitting head of state wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
But the path to victory was far from smooth.
Three weeks before what was promising to be an exciting electoral race, irregularities including a government printing press winning the contract to print ballot papers, sparked a wave of boycotts effectively ending any hope of a competitive presidential poll.
The talk of the town for Sudanese is the position of Washington’s envoy Scott Gration after he met the National Elections Commission, the body accused of irregularities and bias towards the ruling National Congress Party.
“They have given me a lot of information that gives me confidence that the elections will start on time and that they will be as free and fair as possible,” Gration told reporters.
“This has been a difficult challenge but I believe they (the NEC) have stepped up and met the challenge,” he added.
These are confusing times in Sudanese politics — so confusing that even the activists are struggling to keep up with the shifting positions of their own parties a week ahead of national elections.
This morning, a spokesman from south Sudan’s dominant Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) called round journalists inviting them to a demonstration in Khartoum.
When you work for a news organisation in a country like Ethiopia, people often tell you “nobody cares” about the stories you report. What they mean, of course, is that nobody in the West cares. Most of the time, they’re right.
But with Ethiopians about to hold national elections for the first time since a 2005 poll ended with a disputed result, about 200 protestors killed in the streets by police and soldiers and opposition leaders jailed after Prime Minister Meles Zenawi accused them of trying to stage a revolution, there’s every reason for the public in the West to take notice.
On the evening of the 20th of March 1878, Ethiopia’s two great rivals, Emperors Yohannes IV and Menelik II, came face-to-face to thrash out their differences.
As the two men met for the first time, traditional Ethiopian singers are said to have sang “A road that is perilous is far / you have to climb and then descend.”