Elections - what good to they serve?
1/18/2012, 1:46 p.m.
Dec. 13 (GIN) - With two contested elections in the last two months and the bitter memory of a violent electoral exercise in Ivory Coast a year ago, is there something wrong with this picture?
Howard French, professor and author thinks so. Writing in his blog "A Glimpse of the World," French notes that the disputed poll in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was near universally condemned as unfair. "Perhaps it's a good time to ask what use has this exercise served? What need has it fulfilled? What itch has it scratched?"
The recent polls drawing heavy criticism involved Yahya Jammeh, incumbent in the west African nation of The Gambia, and Joseph Kabila, incumbent in the DRC.
Speaking to the BBC, a defiant Jammeh announced plans to rule for "one billion years". Critics, he added, could "go to hell." The Gambian leader, who came to power in a coup in 1994, was re-elected ini November with 72% of the total vote, official figures affirmed.
Meanwhile, in the DR Congo of central Africa, election monitors faulted the Dec. 9 poll results, saying they 'lacking credibility." The Carter Center highlighted numerous problems in the vote-counting process which gave President Joseph Kabila 49% of the vote against 32% for Etienne Tshisekedi of the opposition.
Some regions "reported impossibly high rates of 99 to 100% voter turnout with all, or nearly all, votes going to incumbent President Joseph Kabila", the Center said. The 78-year-old opposition leader called the results a "provocation" and a court challenge is expected.
Other recent disputed elections were in Uganda and Equatorial Guinea.
In a related development, a British parliamentarian accused Pres. Kabila of selling the country's mineral assets at a huge loss. But the MP Eric Joyce, acknowledged that the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative were also guilty of failing to enforce the requirements of a $551-million credit facility. The facility calls for the publication of all partnership agreements between state-owned mining firms and private enterprises and a public tender process for the sale of state assets.