Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

2020, a year of all risks : The unsafe road to major elections on the African continent

14.11.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Considered by many, rightly or wrongly as the cradle of humanity, Africa far from the standards could have hoped for continues suffering primarly because of the quality of the leaders it has known so far. If the advent of democracy has helped to break through by allowing a partial alternation at the top of some states in the continent, it is clear that this system of governance has not been able to put all parties on equal footing. Defined as a system of governance that puts the people at the center of all interests, democracy, better than the platitudes received and the weaknesses observed, should in principle allow a constant change of leaders through an alternation at the top of the state in order to facilitate the implementation of new policies, specific to new generations. Far from all the expectations and hopes raised, the failure of a more united and prosperous Africa came about in part as a result of insubstantial "constitutions" which change according to the moods of the men in power.

With the wave of independence in the early 1960s, a new breath inspired by new democracies and basic laws, guarantors of peace and stability of the States were acclaimed with great display. Except that it was without counting on the will of the men in power, who are often quick to alter the will of the people during the “elections “. Defined as representatives voted by the people to represent them or to hold a position on their behalf, there will be numerous elections on the African continent come 2020. From the Latin word “eligere” which means “to choose” and “electio” which means “choice”, the term election, in its etymology, sometimes finds it difficult to find a true application in some countries of the continent. Due to the willingness of some individuals, groups or political parties to remain in power at all costs, elections on the continent rarely have a happy ending for all participants. The many post-election disputes over the years can attest to the awkward political climate on the continent.

 

Whether in Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Comoros, Guinea, Mali, Chad, Tunisia or Niger, the challenges ahead in 2020, will be many in the sense that the elections that will take place will mark a turning point in the evolution of these different democracies. If a connotation at very high risk of unrest can already be envisaged for some of these countries, especially around the presidential elections, the local elections will not be without interest for countries like Cameroon where the political class is divided because of the convocations against the current of the electoral body. The rise of independent candidates will also be monitored.

The next presidential smeared in “stormy” tumult

Due to constitutions that are not respected, or that are literally interpreted in favour of some candidates, the 2020 presidential elections on the African continent will be particularly harsh, especially for the following three countries. These are Côte d’Ivoire with President Alassane Ouattara, Togo with President Faure Gnassingbe and Guinea with ​​President Alpha Condé.

Nevertheless, in the midst of all these constitutional changes which promise to be with great elaboration and would be better to avoid in order to maintain stability and peace in the continent.

For the occasion, Faure Gnassingbé’s Togo is no better off for the electoral deadlines set for 2020. The basis of the contested constitutional reform adopted 90 votes out of the 91 in the Togolese Parliament, which will allow him to run for the next two presidential elections in 2020 and 2025, everything suggests that the outgoing president Faure Gnassingbe, like some others of his peers on the continent, is also affected by the disease of holding on to power which acts to undermine stability within the country and by extension the continent. This implies that he is the only man capable of leading the country and that would require such dramatic constitutional reforms which have long term ramifications. This situation, as soon as it was announced, greatly preserved the Togolese political class which sees in their manifested desire to remain in power as some sort of retreat on the progress made on the demands for a true expression of democracy within the country. For this country as for many others within the continent,  2020 risks death sounds for the dreadful domination of politicians with little power and who give little place to the interest of the nation.

In Guinea, President Alpha Conde, the country’s first democratic elected president, could have made a useful outing inspired by his Nigerian counterpart, Mahamadou Issoufou, who declared that he will not stand for re-election and will support a candidate. By an assembly built from scratch that rests on the national consultations that he initiated on September 10, 2019, president Alpha Conde seeks rather to proceed with the amendment of the constitution which imposes a limitation of the mandate, in order to be able to represent and perpetrate the system of fraud already in place.

Except that a popular grunt quickly took hold of the country. With the red tide pouring more and more into the streets of Conakry every day, and the call for a general boycott by opposition leaders such as Abdoulaye Oumou Sow and Cello Dalein Diallo, the upcoming elections in Guinea will be a real test for President Alpha Conde if he does not recount his words of old, when he spoke of putting the people at the centre of politics interests and go on to hand over power as the current constitution requires in the effort to ensure the peace, security and stability is maintain within the country he claims to love.

Côte d’Ivoire, which has a particularly bloody political history, will have to deal with its most recent political past, which in 2010-2011 resulted in the death of more than 3,000 Ivorians. The race for the 2020 presidential election looks like a fight from all extremes in Africa. Even if all the likely candidates have not yet officially expressed their position on the issue by formally applying for membership, several key players, free alliances of yesterday and the past, have begun to break the chains of any coalition that shaded them to position themselves as the real leaders of the next election.

The outgoing president Alassane Ouattara who continues to maintain the vagueness of possibly running for the elections and Guillaume Soro, the former speaker of the National Assembly who is a presidential candidate has already launched his first campaign stating that he will not be happy if he does not pass the first round. Laurent Gbagbo who has been finally cleared and acquitted by the International Criminal Court this November 16, 2019 and of which nobody to this day could define the positions, Charles Blé Goudé who could have a leading role to play with the youth while waiting to see which party he will align himself with; the former president and former political comrade of the outgoing president, the highly-appointed Henri Konan Bédié, the Ivorians will have much to do to maintain peace in their country.

Nevertheless, in the midst of all these, a new force that could bring a ray of appeasement and prosperity into the Ivorian political space, consolidating the common will of all Ivorians and making a strong impression. The “Freedom and Democracy for the Republic” (LIDER) party which promotes greatly on social networks its program which focuses on democracy and the market economy have made an impressive case. Founded on July 14, 2011 by Professor Mamadou Koulibaly and supported by his strategy advisor and personality by her own right Nathalie Yamb, who made a strong impression of Koulibaly’s laudable positions while speaking at the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi. LIDER continues to extend and structure itself strategically throughout the country.

Stuttering predictable upcoming local elections

In addition to the presidential elections which will form a good part of the political class of the countries of the African continent in 2020, the local elections, organized around the municipal, the legislative and the regional, according to the countries, will have a certain importance in the continuation of the smooth running of democratic life. Among the countries where these elections are to take place, there are several balloting preparations at the polls of these elections. In spite of the current troubles or those which could take place in these countries, the tension of “obese majorities” in national parliaments and assemblies could fade, leaving power in the hands of a new generation of politicians: exiting the “belly” politicians to give room to the politicians of truth and construction.

In the upcoming double legislative and municipal elections (2020), Ethiopia and Cameroon are in a similar position to the countries mentioned above. The Nigerians will be more likely to exercise a triple vote that will combine presidential, legislative and municipal only, unlike Ethiopia that has experienced a change and alternation at the top of its institutions with the recent young reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Cameroon has remained the reservation of one man, who today made the country of the Indomitable Lions, a real “specimen” for human rights organizations such as Amnesty International or still Human Rights Watch.

Since the demands of November 2016 and the Kafkaesque post-election ball, the country is tormented by tremendous disorders. In a targeted movement of prohibition and systematic domination of opposition political parties, the government has chosen to make life especially hard for the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon lead by Professor Maurice Kamto who despite the obstacles continues to attract many activists and supporters across the country and beyond. “O Cameroon of Paul Biya”, war in the North-West and South-West, flagrant violation of human rights, imprisonment and violent repression and systematic prohibition of meetings of some opposition political parties, the awareness raising of justice, the instrumentation of tribalism by the state and its henchmen, has become the daily life of the inhabitants of the country which formerly belonged to fighters like Ruben Um Nyobe, Félix-Roland Moumié and Ernest Ouandié.

Despite the instability and the non-application of the so-called “grand national dialogue”, the 37-year-old president with the same sound of the “renewal” has nevertheless managed “the Unimaginable”, to summon the electorate on November 10 for the double poll that was scheduled for February 9, 2020. To the chagrin of Cameroon People’s Party, Edith Kahbang Walla, popularly called Kah Walla, who had launched the initiative” Stand Up For Cameroon”, the electoral body was convened to proceed with the election of deputies to the National Assembly and municipal councillors. In such a fall and a discord of request dictated by the power in place and its territorial representatives, mayors, sub-divisional officers and divisional officers, who use vague anti-legalistic and unpleasant moves, to avoid issuing necessary documents to opposition candidates for the constitution of their applications for the next election.  February 2020 may be too much for the Biya Government because even the Social Democratic Front Chairman John Fru Ndi has understood that the policy of the “Empty chair”, already tested in 1992, can only allow the leniency to expand its nest further.

The rise of independent candidates

The elections in Africa has undergone a new evolution for some time now. Political Findings observed elsewhere has become a reality on the continent. From now on, there will no longer be any question of the nomination of candidates by the traditional parties that once mobilized the entire political space. The capacity of listening and discriminating voters, tired of the rhetoric defined, spread and refined with the approach of the election deadlines and the useful vote having spread on the continent, the influence of traditional political parties have begun reducing because of new competition from the members of the civil society and independent candidates who have retained the opportunity to be eligible to be voted into high political office, without any need to be associated with any political party.

Like Kaïs Saïed, Tunisia’s new president, rose to office while having no allegiance to any traditional or new political formation, independent candidates are on the rise in the continent. This example of Kaïs Saïed of Tunisia is leading the way in Africa.

Vice-president of the Tunisian association of constitutional law and university professor said that the new Tunisian president had foiled all predictions during the presidential elections spanning the period of September 15th and October 13th; winning in both rounds with scores of 18.40% and 72.71% on the opponents backed by traditional political parties such as Abdel Fattah Mourou’s Ennahdha or Nabil Karoui’s Nidaa Tounes. His growing popularity, was supported by his strategy to engage with the loss of faith in the traditional parties that used to flatter voters with false promises which are usually forgotten after winning elections. To stress on the rise of independent candidates in this country, we can also observe the 4th and 6th place of Abdelkrim Zaidi and Safi Said respectively who had relatively acceptable scores in the first round looks to be a continued trend for at least this era of African politics.

President José Mario Vaz, outgoing President of Guinea Bissau, has announced his decision to stand in the presidential elections of 24 November and 29 December to come as an independent candidate after being excluded of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). It is time for Africa to deconstruct the myth that claiming an elective office must necessarily be done through traditional political parties that have the strength of number and geographical representation.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Photo Credit : google image/illustration

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