CW 45/2020: Every Vote Counts?
Press Review 31 October 2020 to 6 November 2020

Political Crisis in the Côte d´Ivoire

In Côte d’Ivoire, the electoral commission declared the incumbent, Alassane Ouattara, the winner of the 31 October  election with 94.27% of the vote. Despite plans to the contrary, Ouattara had taken office for a third term when his designated successor Amadou Gon Coulibaly died in July. Prior to 2016,  Côte d’Ivoire’s constitution did not provide for more than two terms of office, which before Ouattara had already completed them. However, he argues that with the constitutional amendment, the  counting of mandates would start from the beginning. Already in the run-up to the elections, there had been confrontations about this controversial practice, which, according to Human Rights Watch, resulted in 20 deaths. Thus, former Prime Minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan and former President Henri Konan Bédié, two of the three opposition candidates, had called for a boycott of the elections. Many voters stayed away from the ballot box and the official voter turnout of 53.9 % is considered very optimistic according to critical voices. Accordingly, the opposition does not recognise the election results. On Monday, Bédié and N’Guessan announced the establishment of a transitional government and  called for civil disobedience. Former Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, had been disqualified from the elections following a court conviction for money laundering and embezzlement of public funds and who is currently in France, on Wednesday also called on the military and security forces to disobey President Ouattara. According to the current status, Ouattara will be sworn in on 14 December. Fears of a possible escalation of violence are fuelled by memories of the 2010 elections, after which more than 3,000 people lost their lives.

Tanzanian government pressures  opposition

Tundu Lissu, Tanzanian presidential candidate of the opposition party Chadema, sought refuge in the residence of the German ambassador in Dar es Salaam after being temporarily arrested on Monday. A total of 40 leading opposition politicians were temporarily arrested after Chadema had called for protests against the result of the presidential elections. Officially, incumbent John Magufuli won the elections on October 28 with 84.4 % while Lissu, as the second strongest force, was able to secure only 13.04 % of the votes. The Chadema and other opposition parties, however, reject this result and accuse Magufuli  of falsification of thousands of ballot papers and extensive electoral fraud. While the National Election Commission (NEC) rejects any accusations of irregularities, international election observation missions also doubt the credibility of the vote. However, official election results cannot be challenged in court in Tanzania. The opposition therefore called for street protests, which were blighted by arrests by the police. Already on Thursday, President Magufuli had himself sworn in for his second and, according to the constitution  final term of office. The 61-year-old is increasingly ruling the East African country with an authoritarian hand. At his instigation, political assemblies were banned in Tanzania and some critical media were forcibly closed. Since the elections, social media have been largely blocked. The opposition announced that they would continue to demonstrate peacefully for a repeat of the elections.

In other news

The 66-year-old Somali researcher Ahmed Ibrahim Awale is pleased to receive a very special honour these days. In recognition of his decades of work in environmental protection, the newly discovered scorpion species Pandinurus awalei was named after him. Awale himself hopes that this will inspire especially young Somali scientists asmost animals and plants are named either after properties, places or European researchers. A few years ago, Awale himself discovered the Aloe sanguinalis (red aloe), a new species of aloe that only exists in one region of Somalia. Somalia has a great biodiversity with over 3000 different plant species, 700 of which can only be found in the country in the Horn of Africa

Media Coverage of the US elections in Africa

A large number of African newspapers, blogs and news platforms have reported  or commented on the election of the US president. Larger platforms such as All Africa, Africa News and Al Jazeera give a great deal of space in their reporting to the unspecified outcome of the vote count, sometimes with their own columns. The main focus is on allegations of Republican election rigging, as well as on the electoral behavior of the various population groups in the United States and the deep divide between the two political camps. The election is considered important and trend-setting for the African continent as well; both candidates would have a very different relationship to the African states. While Donald Trump’s presidency with regard to the African continent was characterised above all by verbal derailments and tensions, also with the own Afro-American population in the US, but above all by his motto America First, it is hoped that Joe Biden’s presidency will produce more conciliatory tones and a more cooperative partnership in the fight against climate change. In the social media, too, the lengthy procedure of counting votes has had a clear, sometimes amusing, impact.


Notice of event:

AFRIKAMERA 2020: Urban Africa, Urban Movies: Politics & Revolution presents from 17 – 22 November a selection of current and historical films and documentaries on social upheaval and colonial reappraisal on the continent on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the independence of numerous African states this year. The programme also marks the beginning of a four-year festival focus on contemporary urban cinema from Africa. In the following years, the focus will be on Youth & Youth Cultures (2021), Migration and Diaspora (2022) and Future & Utopias (2023).

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