Podcast: Who will win Uganda’s 2016 elections?

Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire and Crisis Group analyst Magnus Taylor join us to discuss Uganda’s upcoming elections.

Published on African Arguments.

Podcast: Elections in West Africa with Cynthia Ohayon and Kamissa Camara

West Africa experts Cynthia Ohayon and Kamissa Camara join us to talk about the outcome of this year’s elections in West Africa and their national and regional implications.

Voter turnout and disillusionment in Sudan

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Over at African Arguments, James Copnall makes some important observations about the recent elections in Sudan:

The result everyone was waiting for did, however, come with a turnout figure few expected. 46% of the electorate marked their ballot papers, according to the National Elections Commission. This figure will be received with some scepticism.

SPLM-North’s Yassir Arman estimated the real number at no more than 15%, while even the African Union monitors called the turnout ‘low’. Olusegun Obasanjo, the head of the monitoring team, said he thought 30-35% sounded about right, and certainly no more than 40%. Mahjoub Mohamed Salih, the legendary journalist who covered his first Sudanese election in 1953, also guessed the figure would be in the 30s.

The numbers matter. Bashir was certain to win, but large crowds of voters would have given greater legitimacy to his victory. Instead, there were widespread reports of low turnout and the polls had to be extended into a fourth day to encourage more people to vote.

Copnall goes on to estimate that not even all of the ruling parties official members could be bothered to vote. If so, this is a real problem for (reelected) President Bashir and the (largely military) leadership of the regime.

Sudan is in a deep economic crisis that has severely impacted the regime's ability to spread wealth around, while simultaneously waging several civil wars. Instead of focussing on a political settlement and developing alternative income streams to oil rents, the regime has opted to seek a military solution to the various conflicts. This chicken has now come home to roost in a big way.

With its core base obviously disillusioned, it is more and more only military might and suppression that holds Bashir and his team in power. They will probably be able to sustain this for a while, maybe even several years, but not indefinitely.

Bashir probably knows this, which is why the Sudanese government has lobbied hard for debt relief with western governments. Hopefully this relief will only be granted after the regime has addressed some of the democratic deficiencies of the state.

Source: Sudan 2015: After the elections, time for new ideas – By James Copnall | African Arguments

Think Africa Press: How Much Longer Can Compaoré Rule Last?

On October 15, President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso will celebrate his 25th year in power. To spend that much time in office, he had to run coups against two governments. In the first in 1983, he helped his friend and fellow revolutionary Thomas Sankara become president. In the second, four years later, Compaoré took power. Sankara was killed and Compaoré lost all appetite for socialism. He put in place a system of power so exploitative that 25 years later Burkina Faso remains one of the least developed countries in the world.

During this time, Compaoré has expertly managed to keep local elites and international donors happy, and marginalise all political opposition in Burkina Faso. It attests to his political prowess that he has had a hand in virtually all civil wars in the region, from Sierra Leone to Ivory Coast and Mali, but has been able to keep an exceptionally low profile internationally, avoiding criticism from western donors and NGOs. […]

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Waging Nonviolence: Why democracy prevails in Senegal but fails in Mali

People took to the streets in Dakar, Senegal, yesterday, celebrating what many had feared would never happen: opposition leader Mack Sall gained around two thirds of the vote in the second round of the presidential elections, and incumbent Abdoulaye Wade accepted defeat, personally calling Sall to congratulate him.

Meanwhile in Bamako, the capital of Senegal’s neighbor Mali, people were slowly starting to venture out to the streets again after a sudden coup d’état brought normal life to a standstill for several days.

Why did democracy prevail in Senegal and not in Mali? Why were people in one country able to express the need for change at the ballot box, while in the other weapons had to speak? […]

Read the rest on Waging Nonviolence!