‘Disgrace’ and a ‘mess’: Africans taken aback by U.S. election turmoil


'Disgrace' and a 'mess': Africans taken aback by U.S. election turmoil
A street vendor sells U.S. flag-themed attire in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. PHOTO | REUTERS

In Summary

  • “They tell us about democracy, it’s simply a hoax. They don’t mean it,” said Maurice Nandasaba, as he caught up with friends near a newsstand in Nairobi.

For some Africans, President Donald Trump’s actions in the aftermath of the U.S. election have been a cause for dark humour, while others reacted with dismay or disbelief.

In countries whose own recent elections were marred by accusations of cheating and violence, some expressed concern about what signal Trump’s premature declaration of victory, allegations of fraud and flurry of lawsuits might send to their own leaders.

“Trump is setting a bad example for Africa and a country like ours. You cannot proclaim yourself in an election where you are a candidate when justice exists,” said Mory Keïta, a car parts dealer in Guinea.

Dozens of people were killed in protests before and after the West African country’s president won a contested third term last month.

“It’s a total disgrace,” said Bachir Diallo, a Guinean mining executive. “Such a mess is worthy of a banana republic.”

Kachi Ukomadu watching the U.S. presidential election results release on November 5, 2020. PHOTO | REUTERS
Kachi Ukomadu watching the U.S. presidential election results release at his home in Lagos, Nigeria on November 5, 2020. PHOTO | REUTERS

 

As Democrat Joe Biden edged closer to victory over President Donald Trump, others felt a sharp sense of irony seeing events play out in a developed nation whose authorities regularly admonish African leaders for not respecting democratic norms.

Trump, who during the long and rancorous campaign attacked the integrity of the American voting system, has alleged fraud without providing evidence, filed lawsuits and called for at least one recount.

When the U.S. Embassy in Guinea’s neighbour Ivory Coast called on Wednesday for dialogue and commitment to the rule of law following another disputed presidential election, some people took umbrage.

“I believe the playground response is ‘why you talking about yourself?’” one Twitter user wrote.

“They tell us about democracy, it’s simply a hoax. They don’t mean it,” said Maurice Nandasaba, as he caught up with friends near a newsstand in Nairobi.

Some who followed the U.S. election found positives in what was happening across the Atlantic.

“It’s calm, and there is no violence,” said Viviane Asseke, a schoolteacher in Ivory Coast, where more than 10 people have died in clashes since the president won a third term that opponents consider unconstitutional. “It makes you want to vote.”

But more people were disappointed.

“You would think we’re in Africa when you see Trump’s behaviour,” said Ange Kouame, 23, a student in Ivory Coast’s main city, Abidjan.

“It is terrifying to see this in America,” said Tito Kisiya, a sales executive in Tanzania, whose presidential election last week drew criticism from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

In Africa’s most populous nation Nigeria, where Trump has many admirers, some were critical of his actions.

“A soothsayer does not need to tell us that the America we are looking at as a model in everything is not even a model when it comes to electioneering,” said Agbor Elemi, a consultant in Lagos.

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