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African Election Review

6th January 2011

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The pre-election section of this month’s CAI Election Review examines the forthcoming second round of the election for the President of the Union of the Comoros. With three candidates progressing from the first round, the second round is scheduled for 26 December. The pre-election section also looks ahead to the up-coming referendum in Sudan which is to be held on 3 January. The parliamentary elections in Chad, which have been postponed until 20 February 2011, are also examined.

 

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The post-election section of this month's African Election Review looks at the results of the presidential election in Guinea-Conakry, which was held on 7 November. The constitutional referendum in Madagascar, held on 17 November and was seen by many as a signal of the end of the political crisis in the country, is also discussed. Finally, the presidential election in Burkina Faso, the second round of the presidential election in Cote d’Ivoire and the parliamentary election in Egypt are also examined.
 


Pre-election

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Comoros – Presidential (second round) and gubernatorial elections

 

The first round of the election for the President of the Union of the Comoros was held on 7 November. The top three presidential candidates who will progress to the second round run-off on 26 December are Ikililou Dhoinine, Mohamed Said Fazul and Bienrifi Tarmidi.

 

Second round candidates

 

Under the Constitution of the Comoros, the presidency rotates among the three islands - Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli. In this instance, the President must come form the island of Moheli. This is the first time the margianlised island of Moheli will gain the Union presidency since independence in 1975. The second round candidates are Ikililou Dhoinine, Mohamed Said Fazul and Bianrifi Tarmidi.

 

Gubernatorial election

 

Elections for the Government of the Comoros were also held on 7 November. Mouigni Baraka, who received 25.6% of the vote, and Mohamed Abdoulaoihabi, who received 23.5%, will both progress to the second round for the island of Grane Comore. For the island of Anjouan, Moussa Toybou, who received 44.4%, and Anissi Chamsidine, who received 41% of the votes, will progress into the second round. For the island of Moheli, Mohamed Ali Said received 42.3% of the votes and Ali HIlali Said received 15.7%. They will both go through to the second round.

 

Campaign Issues and/or concerns

 

o The politically volatile islands that comprise the Comoros have been rocked by more than 20 coups and attempted coups since indepedence from France in 1975;
o Incumbent President Sambi's attempt to extend his term until November 2011 was met by fierce opposition and was ruled unconstitutional;
o Opposition members and people from the other islands feel that Sambi’s attempt to extend his term was an attempt to shorten their term in office;
o Sambi’s allies claim that the extension of the term was to enable the attainment of sufficient funds to hold the election and to make logistical preparations;
o Under the country’s rotating presidential system, the next President must come from Moheli;
o This will be the first time the most marginalised of the islands will have held the presidency since Independence;
o The second round is scheduled for 26 December.

 

Sudan – Referendum

 

A referendum will be held in Sudan on 9 January to determine whether Southern Sudan should gain independence.

 

The referendum comprises part of the Naivasha Agreement made between the Khartoum central Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) in 2005. Many Southern Sudanese regard January’s referendum as their first genuine opportunity to exert their right to self-determination as underlined in the 2005 peace deal. The agreement ended decades of civil war between north and south, and included a permanent ceasefire. A power-sharing deal was subsequently established and an autonomous Government was formed in the South.

 

Referendum issues and/or concerns

 

o Continued disagreement between north and south over their obligations under the Naivasha Agreement;
o Logistical challenges including unmapped minefields in the south and funding difficulties;
o Approximately two million internally displaced persons;
o Many refugees from the civil way remain in Uganda and Kenya;
o Ongoing conflict in Dafur;
o The logistics of the post-referendum separation processing (including division of national debt);
o Authorities in both the north and the south had been accused of harassment and intimidation of the media in order to avoid dissenting coverage;
o Current President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has said he is committed to holding the referendum;
o The region continues to be volatile and many fear a return to civil war if the referendum fails due to increasingly heated rhetoric;
o Voter registration began in November 2010;
o A majority vote in favour with at least a 60% turnout will result in indepedence for South Sudan.

 

Chad – Parliamentary elections (postponed)

 

Parliamentary elections which were scheduled to take place in Chad on 28 November 2010 have been postponed until 20 February 2011. Financial and human resource shortcomings in the country were cited as the main reasons for the postponement.

 

Chad is a one-party-dominant state with the Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS) in power. In August 2007, the ruling MPS party led by President Idriss Déby, and most opposition parties, signed an agreement regarding the organisation of the elections. To allow time for the agreement to be implemented, elections were delayed until 2009. In October 2010, Chad’s national election commission further delayed parliamentary and location elections to 2011. The head of the electoral commission has called for support from the international community to stage the elections given the lack of resources in the country.

 

Election commentary

 

o Concerns have been raised about the ability of Chad to successfully administer the election;
o The election process has previously been criticised for problems with electoral fraud, multiple voting, underage voting and low voter turnout;
o It will be the fourth popular presidential election to be organised in Chad since Déby came to power following a coup in 1990;
o The last legislative election was held in 2002;
o In 2006, the vote failed to take place following the 2005 constitutional referendum;
o After the signing of a political accord between Deby’s Patriotic Movement and opposition parties, the mandate of members of Parliament elected in 2002 was extended;
o The 2005 constitutional revision allows Deby to vie again for the presidency after the removal of a two-term limit, allowing for continued dominance by the ruling party;
o The election is now set for 30 February 2011.

 

Post-election

 

Guinea-Conakry – Presidential election (second round) run-off

 

Election outcome: Long-time opposition leader Alpha Conde won the second round of the presidential election held on 7 November.

 

Results: Alpha Conde received 52% of the votes. Former Prime Minister Cellou Diallo won 47% of the votes.

 

After numerous postponements, the second round of the presidential elections in Guinea-Conakry (henceforth Guinea) took place on 7 November. The successful completion of this election sees the installation of the first democratically elected President in Guinea. The first round of the presidential elections were held on 27 June and were Guinea’s first democratic vote since independence in 1958. Allegations of fraud were rife however and the second round was postponed due to continued allegations of misconduct, followed by fighting between ethnic groups allied with the competing run-off candidates.

 

Preparations for the second round were thrown into doubt when the fraud convictions of two senior election officials sparked violence in early September. Violent outbreaks followed in the nation’s capital, Conakry.

 

Election commentary

 

o Guinea has endured decades of authoritarian rule since independence from France in 1958;
o A military junta has been in control of the country since the death of President Lansana in December 2008;
o An assassination attempt on Moussa Camara, the leader of the junta, brought a change to the political landscape and led to elections;
o The second round took place peacefully despite concerns of violence and unrest;
o The two candidates, Celou Diallo and Alpha Conde, were both opponents of the country’s dictators for decades and represent the country’s two main ethnic groups, the Peul and Malinké respectively;
o Allegations of vote rigging were made and Diallo initially announced he would not accept the outcome;
o Conde was announced as the winner after received 52% of the vote in the second round.

 

Madagascar – Constitutional referendum

 

Referendum outcome: The amended constitution was passed with 74% voting in favour of the reforms on 17 November.

 

The new constitution is meant to kick-start a process aimed at solving the island’s political crisis and restoring constitutional rule to the country. The referendum put to the public vote a number of changes in policy, including promises pertaining to housing and food subsidies, employment and large-scale construction projects.

 

Madagascar has been in a state of political crisis since March 2009, when current rule Andry Rajoelina toppled President Elect Marc Ravalomanana in an army-backed coup. The referendum was to be the first step in a serious of polls Rajoelina’s regime has set out in a new plan aimed at stabilising the country. Municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections are to follow. The parliamentary and presidential elections have already been postponed indefinitely due to political and technical difficulties. Opposition parties boycotted the referendum and donor countries also criticised the process. Under the terms of the new Constitution, Rajoelina would remain as President until a new head of state is elected.



Referendum commentary

 

o Madagascar has been in political turmoil since March 2009;
o Rajoelina was installed as the interim President by the military;
o The new constitution makes promises relating to improved social conditions;
o Rajoelina urged people to vote in favour of the new constitution;
o Opposition parties called for a boycott of the elections on the basis that Rajoelina has not acted in accordance with a power-sharing deal;
o Constitutional amendments appear to further concentrated the power of the president and allows the transitional Parliament and President to remain in place indefinitely;
o Soldiers attempted to seize control of the island whilst voting was under way in an attempt to destabilise the efforts by the current regime to end the political crisis;
o The army quashed the coup attempt and the mutinous soldiers were arrested;
o 74% of voters voted in favour of the new Constitution.

 

Burkina Faso – Presidential elections (First round)

 

Election outcome: Incumbent President Compaoré was re-elected in Burkina Faso, gaining 81% of the votes in the first round of the presidential elections which took place on 21 November.

 

Results: Balsie Compaoré received 8.21% of the votes. Hama Arba Diallo of the Party for Democracy and Socialism (PDS) received 8.18%, whilst opposition leader Bénéwendé Stanislas Sankara of the Union for Rebirth/Sankarist Movement received 6.32% of the votes.

 

Compaoré has been in power since a coup in 1987 and won the last election in 2005 with 80% of the votes. He was widely expected to be re-elected. Although officially a multi-party system, the ruling CDP dominate politics in Burkina Faso and opposition parties have little chance of gaining prominent positions. Since Compaore gained 81% of the votes - an absolutely majority - in the first round, there was no need for a second round to be held. The voter turnout was 53%, nearly 5% less than the last national polls which were held in 2005. Concerns have been raised about Compaore’s intention to remove the new limit on the presidential term of office, which would enable him to serve indefinitely if re-elected in the 2010 poll.

 

Election commentary

 

o Current Cabinet dominated by Compaore and the CDP, who continue to dominate all areas of Government;
o Compaore has already served for three terms and gained more than 80% of the votes in the 2005 election;
o Analysts say Compaoré has brought stability to the poor West African country which has experienced five coups since independence in 1960;
o According to the current limit of two five-year terms that was put in place in 2002, this election would be his last;
o Compoaré’s party is seeking to abolish constitutional term limits for the presidency;
o International monitors have described the election as ‘transparent’;
o Sankara and Diallo said they would reject the outcome of the vote, citing serious irregularities in the poll.

 

Cote d’Ivoire – Presidential Election

 

Election outcome: The second round of the presidential election in Cote d’Ivoire was held on 28 November and saw the re-election of President Laurent Gbagbo amidst great controversy.

 

Results: Laurent Gbagbo received 51% of the second round votes whilst Alassane Ouattara received 49% of the votes.

 

Delayed announcement of election results saw high tensions and outbreaks of violence across the country. On 2 December, the Independent Election Commission announced Ouattara the winner, having gained 54% of the vote to Gbagbo’s 46%. However, on 3 December, the Constitutional Council ruled for Gbagbo, giving him 51% of the vote against 49% for Ouattara. Since the Constitutional Court has the final say, this announcement nullified the results released on the previous day.

 

The Constitutional Council discounted the votes from seven departments in the north – generally areas where Ouattara is favoured – noting ‘flagrant irregularities.’ Cote d’Ivoire has been divided between a rebel-controlled north and the Government-controlled south since an armed rebellion in 2002. Ouattara is a former Prime Minister and long-time opposition leader who mainly derives his support from the Muslim north.

 

Election commentary

 

o Cote d’Ivoire has been divided between a rebel-controlled north and the Government-controlled south since an armed rebellion in 2002;
o Laurent Gbagbo has ruled since he was elected in 2000;
o Gbagbo’s mandate expired in 2005 and elections have been postponed every year since then;
o In February 2010, Gbagbo unilaterally dissolved the Government and the electoral commission, leading to three weeks of violence;
o The first round was held on 31 October and Gbagbo received 38% of the votes whilst Ouattara received 32%;
o Despite both polls taking place relatively peacefully, the announcement of the results saw increased tensions and outbreaks of violence;
o The Independent Election Commission announced Ouattara as winner on 2 December;
o The Constitutional Council announced Gbagbo as winner on 3 December, nullifying the previous announcement;
o The reversal of the results has received widespread criticism from the international community;
o The UN Security Council and the African Union both released statements saying that Ouattara is the rightful President, asking Gbagbo to stand down;
o There are concerns that this will perpetuate the political crisis in the country.

 

Egypt – Parliamentary Election

 

Election outcome: The second round of the parliamentary election in Egypt was held on 5 December and saw the ruling National Democratic Party win in a sweeping victory.

 

Results: The ruling party won 489 of the seats in the 508-strong people’s assembly. Opposition parties secured 14 seats.

 

The first round of the parliamentary election was held in Egypt on 28 November while the second round was held on 5 December. The landslide victory by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) means that the party now enjoys complete dominance of the legislature. The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest organised opposition force, is left without a single representative in Parliament after withdrawing from the contest, citing ‘blatant’ electoral fraud. In the previous Parliament, the Brotherhood occupied 20% of the seats and formed the largest opposition bloc in the Assembly.

 

Election commentary

 

o Allegations of voting irregularities are widespread;
o The Egyptian Government has called the election a ‘success,’ denying all allegations of vote-rigging ;
o The Election Commission has said that any violations did not affect the outcome;
o The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) claimed the majority of the seats in the Assembly;
o The official turnout figure for the first round was 35%, though independent election monitors put it at 10-15%;
o The NDP’s landslide sees the party tighten the its grip on power ahead of next year’s presidential election;
o The removal of the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood also fits in with the NDP agenda to reduce the Islamist presence in the Assembly ahead of the presidential election.

 

NOTES:


(1) Contact Hannah Gibson through Consultancy Africa Intelligence’s Eyes on Africa Unit (eyesonafrica@consultancyafrica.com).

Written by Hannah Gibson (1)
 

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