2011- The Year of the African Election

Like many others in the blogosphere, my New Year’s resolution for 2011 is to write more. So, A Crowing Hen has received a face lift and I’ve integrated it with my existing film review blog (dominetflix.wordpress.com). Unfortunately, my goals on that blog experienced a minor hitch when I moved to Kisangani, D.R. Congo for summer 2010. But I hope to continue writing about film on this blog, while focusing mainly on the beauty of the African continent.

For the African continent, it seems as though the resolution for 2011 is free and fair elections. The Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa (EISA) has a handy election calendar for 2011. 26 countries are set to vote this year, 17 of which are for head of state. Many of these are highly anticipated elections like – DRC, Liberia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Of course the #1 election on everyone’s minds (the Super Bowl for African junkies), is the referendum in South Sudan. In just 4 days, something remarkable is going to take place on the African continent. Scholars like Jeffrey Herbst (States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control) have argued that this sort of transition from colonial boundaries to more suitable national borders has been a long-time coming and can be the only solution to Africa’s political woes. I have my own reservations as to whether the referendum will be a miracle solution to all of South Sudan’s problems – especially considering the large ethnic factions within the aspiring “nation-state”. There is now doubt, however, that the celebrations following the historic secession will lead to a shift in thinking about post-colonial Africa.

Following on the heals of South Sudan’s vote, will be another round of mishaps and aggravation for the Ugandan opposition parties and their quest to oust career big man Yoweri Museveni. I doubt we will see much movement in the make-up of the movement dominated government this go-round. At last count, there are eight candidates running in the election. Until the opposition parties in Uganda can form a coalition against the NRM, Museveni is likely to remain the incumbent indefinitely.

Later in the year, we’ll hear from D.R. Congo as to whether President Kabila will remain in office, after UN reports of continuing insecurity in the Kivus. Will Africa’s first female president, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson remain in office in Liberia? Will Zimbabwe ratify yet another constitution, increasing President Mugabe’s grip on power? Can Nigeria pull off a peaceful election? And will Madagascar recover its citizenship within the African Union and SADC?

Regardless of the outcomes – 2011 is definitely going to be an exciting year for African enthusiasts.

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