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Elections and passions of war

When “common folks’’ sought equality of voice by each voter casting only ONE vote with equal value, their leaders met police harassment, violence and imprisonment…

When “common folks’’ sought equality of voice by each voter casting only ONE vote with equal value, their leaders met police harassment, violence and imprisonment directed by the ‘’gentry’’. In racist South Africa, white rulers for over 300 years feared the arithmetic of votes of the black population. As Europe recalls 70 years after Russia’s Red Army defeated German troops and ended Auschwitz as a factory where over one million Jews were burnt to ashes, there is silence over fears by German capitalists – of votes of workers electing socialist politicians to power – fuelling anti-Jewish passions.
This virus has entered African politics. On Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th January, 2015, a Pan-African conference on elections was run by The Electoral Institute (TEI) in Abuja. A Law professor from Kenya asserted that Presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Arap Moi used fatal motor vehicle accidents to terminate popular critics from contesting elections. The electoral referee in Kenya is yet to announce the figures for the 2013 presidential elections; as well as provide explanations as to why spoilt ballot papers were also counted among valid votes. He ignored the possible merit of the electoral agency seeking to avoid a repeat of the violence that followed the 2007 elections.
The boss of the Ford Foundation, a co-sponsor of the conference, denounced a trend in Africa in which courts of law are snatching from voters the decision of who is declared winner of elections. Femi Falana had previously asserted that wealthy crooks are hiring ‘’mercenary lawyers’’, notably Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), to steal the sovereignty in votes cast. Such lawyers use clever legal technicalities and gymnastics. SANS assembled at the event were silent over warnings that degradations of political legitimacy which they were farming to earn huge legal fees from cases at local, state and federal levels will incite mass violence.
Although The Gambia was represented at the conference, claims by critics that President Yahya Jammeh has used unwholesome tools to ensure victory at the polls – since he assumed power in 1994 – were not interrogated. Accusation of his use of physical violence against opponents; arrests; preventing election rallies by opposition parties; detention and killing of journalists who dare to either report on or write critical reviews of these forms of ‘’election rigging’’ were swept under silence. Considering the fact that the country had just experienced a failed military coup, that diplomatic self-censorship over Gambia’s electoral biography was clearly not helpful.
There was valuable focus on “impunity’’ by various actors in Nigeria’s electoral drama. As an example, lawyers earn fat fees by encouraging a client to go to court even when it is clear that the case shall fail. In one case a lawyer encouraged a brother who had been illegally declared as a winner to call as many as 483 witnesses as a device to enable the culprit stay in office illegally for as long as three years – a case of cynical legal brigandage.
The wilful theft of public resources by such an illegal incumbent has not been criminalized; thereby encouraging others to harvest legal gymnastics. Civil Society groups and anti-corruption agencies have not demanded refunds of incomes illegally earned by such fraudulent incumbents. Monetary values of contracts awarded by local government chairmen and state governors who had not been legally elected have not been audited. Likewise, if Judges put monetary value to sufferings of citizens due to lack of health clinics; non-provision of clean drinking water, primary and tertiary education;  as well as moral and psychological injuries suffered by the voting publics, and imposed repayments and severe penalties on offenders, it would dredge impunities from Nigeria’s elections.
Tanzania enjoyed clean elections from 1961 to 1985 which repeatedly re-elected Mwalimu Nyerere. Tanzania has, however, experienced violence in recent local elections due to withdrawal of subsidies to education, health care and agricultural inputs imposed by the World Bank; and creeping corruption blamed on multi-party politics weakening the moral basis of a former popular one-party system. Their delegates at the conference were startled by tales of electoral impunities in other African countries.
 Since 1960, NATO countries and their multinational corporations have rejected a D.R. Congo ruled by economic nationalists.  Kabila’s award of road and rail construction contracts to Chinese companies has provoked open Euro-American hostility to his re-election. Congo’s elections will always suffer from passions of war by international economic non-voters.

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