With the upcoming U.S. elections dominating the airwaves, here are four elections in Ghana, Somalia, Cote d’Ivoire and the DRC you may not know about, but you should.
Ghana was the first African country to gain independence and since has been seen as a democratic leader on the continent. However, Ghana’s recent history has not been without its tribulations with a series of coups in the 70s and early 80s that threatened the democratic process. Recent elections have also been beleaguered by post-election disputes.
A major election for president and 275 members of parliament is scheduled for December 7, 2016. This year, President John Mahama (since 2012), of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) party, is facing Nana Nkufo-Addo of the centre-right New Patriotic Party (NPP). There are also candidates in three additional parties: the socialist Convention People’s party (CPP), the People’s National Convention, and the recently formed Progressive People’s party. However, a few of Ghana’s political parties are suing the Electoral Commission of Ghana for disqualifying their potential candidates after detecting errors in the nomination forms.
Somalia has begun the voting process for an Upper House, and currently 275 Lower House members. The president is due to be appointed on November 30, but there are some major issues including that 99% of Somalis don’t get a vote. Only 14,025 people were picked by clan elders and have been divided into electoral colleges. However, in 2012 the parliament was chosen by just 135 traditional leaders. These elections have been billed by some as a “small stumbling step on the road to democracy.” Another problem is corruption with a UN envoy acknowledging wide use of bribery to buy votes.
- Cote d’Ivoire
Did you know that last week, Cote D’Ivoire voted in a new constitution? An overwhelming majority of voters (over 90 percent) approved the new constitution, although turnout was low following an opposition boycott. The new constitution allows for the president to pick a vice president and set up a senate, of which a third would be picked by the president. It also gets rid of a controversial clause that had specified the parentage of future presidents.
The election was somewhat marred in that over 50 opposition leaders were arrested at protests and held in moving police vehicles for hours. There are some reports that some leaders were clubbed and others were dropped 100 kilometers away from their homes and forced to walk home.
- Democratic Republic of the Congo… sort of The Democratic Republic of the Congo was to have a presidential election on Nov. 27, 2016. Current president Joseph Kabila is due to finish his presidency due to term limits, but some are questioning his intentions. This election has been delayed until April 2018. In response, the US imposed sanctions on top DRC officials back in September.