This week we consider the recent elections in Zambia and South Africa and a new opposition alliance in Ethiopia, while President Salva Kiir changes his mind again about the prospect of more foreign troops to keep the peace in South Sudan.
ZAMBIA: Lungu wins by a whisker
as opposition cries foul
Backers of President Edgar Lungu rejoiced and waved party banners after the electoral commission
announced on 15 August that he had held the presidency with 50.35% of
the votes, and won himself a full, four-year term in State House.
Supporters of challenger Hakainde
Hichilema, who polled 47.63% of the votes, took to the streets
to protest at what they called an 'electoral coup'.
International dignitaries called for calm while police said in Lusaka
that they had arrested over 150 protestors across the country, mainly
from Hichilema's United Party for
National Development, after clashes over alleged rigging on 16 August.
On 13 August, observers from the European Union were excluded from the
counting process which, they pointed out diplomatically, may have
reduced confidence in the results.
The next step is for Hichilema to file a formal complaint to the
Constitutional Court detailing his vote-rigging claims but it's not
clear whether that will delay plans for Lungu's presidential
inauguration. Meanwhile, the government negotiates with the
International Monetary Fund for desperately-needed finance to
compensate for falling export revenues.
SOUTH SUDAN: Salva drops
opposition to bigger UN force
After fiercely opposing 'interference' by foreign forces in South
Sudan, and hastily convening demonstrations in Juba to back his stance,
President Salva Kiir has now said he no longer opposes the United
Nations Security Council decision to send an additional 4,000 troops to
bolster the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). But he claimed the
right to discuss the UN plan for an unspecified period before the
government makes a formal response.
Some senior figures in the government army are strongly opposed to a
bigger and stronger UN force, not least because the sacked
Vice-President, Riek Machar,
says he and his allies will not return to Juba in its absence. Salva is
coming under increasing international pressure since detailed reports
emerged of widespread atrocities by government soldiers during the
shoot-out last month with Riek's forces and in the aftermath. Human
Rights Watch this week released a devastating report on murders and
rapes it says were committed by soldiers under the command of General Paul Malong Awan and President
Salva which will be hard to ignore.
ETHIOPIA: Formerly divided
opposition faces lethal force in Addis demonstration
When protestors representing the Oromo and Amhara, the ethnic groups
which make up some 60% of Ethiopia's 100 million people, took to the
streets of Addis Ababa in protest last Friday, it was a milestone for
the long-fragmented opposition. Police killed many, Amnesty
International has claimed, as they quickly broke up the demonstration.
If this show of strength is repeated it could be a serious challenge to
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn's
government. Hailemariam labelled the protests a security threat. Many
see the unrest as the result of pent-up frustration in an opposition
that has failed to win even a single seat in parliament. Until now the
sometimes violent protests in Oromo, which exploded last November, and
in Amhara, where the state also used maximum force, had been seen as
local issues. The protestors' agenda appears to be widening to include
demands for sweeping reforms of the land laws and of the political
SOUTH AFRICA: Hard bargaining as
the ANC cedes power in post-election deals
The spectacular performance by Wayde
van Niekerk, winning a gold medal in the 400 metres at the
Olympic Games, among other stellar performances by South African
athletes, was a welcome boost for a country battered by a weakening
economy and concerns for its political future. Senior ANC figures are
talking about the need for dramatic changes after the party's
disastrous performance in the 3 August local elections and diminishing
confidence in President Jacob Zuma.
Now, the ANC faces tough negotiations behind closed doors with its
political opponents to form coalition governments in the 27 – out of
278 – municipalities where no party won an outright majority. The ANC's
share of the vote fell to 53% from an average of 62% five years ago in
national elections. Its nearest challenger is the centre-right
Democratic Alliance whose leader Mmusi
Maimane has won over substantial numbers of black voters.
In many of the most contested municipalities, the radical Economic
Freedom Fighters, which scored an average national vote of about 8%,
could play a kingmaker role. It's not clear how far the EFF and the DA
can work together. Both parties announce their plans this week. But
translating those into practical terms to share power in over 20
municipalities, whose total budgets are worth more than $10 billion,
could take weeks and months of negotiations.