Monday, 28 November 2016

NIGERIA: After a divisive campaign, governing party candidate wins in Ondo State

This week we start with Nigeria's governorship elections and South Africa's President Jacob Zuma facing yet another vote of confidence. Elections in Gambia and Somalia are also due conclude this week as the United States signals greater interest in military action in the Horn.

NIGERIA: After a divisive campaign, governing party candidate wins in Ondo State
Veteran lawyer Rotimi Akeredolu, the candidate for the All Progressives' Congress (APC), has won the crucial Ondo State governorship election held on 26 November. It was the most serious test of the APC's support since it won national elections in March last year.

Despite the victory, the election campaign showed the governing party facing new pressures, with its leading members in the south-west – Bola Tinubu and allies such as Lagos governor Akinwunmi Ambode – refusing to campaign for Akeredolu. The APC's standing has been hit badly in the south-west, which is suffering from the country's worst recession for 25 years.

Akeredolu secured 244,842 votes with the People's Democratic Party's Eyitayo Jegede coming second with 150,380, and Olusola Alexander Oke of the Alliance for Democracy taking third place with 126,889 votes. Tinubu and Ambode's support seemed to swell Oke's vote. Jegede's candidacy for the PDP was confirmed just three days before the elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission but his calls for a postponement of the election fell on deaf ears.

SOUTH AFRICA: Zuma faces no-confidence vote in the ANC's top committee
The African National Congress has extended a meeting of its top decision-making body, the National Executive Committee, until today (28 November) to debate a motion of no-confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

This is far more significant than the parliamentary no-confidence motion that Zuma faced two weeks ago. It exposes deep internal divisions in the ANC. The committee is the only body in the party that has the power to force Zuma out.

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom originally proposed the motion on 26 November. Several committee wanted a secret ballot so as to avoid possible retribution from Zuma supporters. Party support for Zuma has been hit by successive corruption scandals, especially the report by outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on 'State Capture', on relations between Zuma and the wealthy Gupta family, and her call for a judicial investigation.

GAMBIA: Opposition alliance challenges Yahya Jammeh at the polls
Businessman Adamu Barrow, backed by eight opposition parties, is taking on President Yahya Jammeh in national elections on Thursday (1 December) after months of state repression. About 50 opposition activists have been arrested in the run up to the elections, including Ousainu Darboe, who leads the opposition United Democratic Party.

Two activists have died in detention and Darboe has been sentenced to three years in gaol for participating in an unauthorised demonstration. On 27 November Jammeh, who seized power in 1994, said that anyone involved in election violence would be dealt with harshly. Jammeh, widely-criticised by pro-democracy and human rights organisations for brutality and corruption, announced last month he would be taking his country out of the International Criminal Court although the current court prosecutor is respected Gambian lawyer Fatou Bensouda.

Jammeh has barred election observers from the European Union but allowed in a delegation from the African Union. Jammeh is expected to declare a comfortable victory although there are signs of opposition to him in the military and opposition parties have mounted a more coordinated campaign this time.

SOMALIA: Lengthy electoral process to conclude as Obama takes action
The voting process to pick a parliament and president is due to end formally on Wednesday (30 November) but has been marred by persistent disruption by the Islamist militia, Al Shabaab. The African Union force, Amisom, has been stretched to the limit defending sites used for voting. The force is currently 4,000 under strength and suffers from poor morale and logistical problems. While Ethiopia has withdrawn troops from Somalia which were not assigned to Amisom, and Kenya and Uganda have questioned their commitment, President Barack Obama has authorised increased US military involvement in the anti-Shabaab campaign, according to a report in yesterday's New York Times.

Obama has deemed Al Shabaab to be part of the armed conflict that Congress authorised military response to after 9 September, 2001. As well as legally underpinning the US military's already expanding role in Somalia, the move lays the groundwork for President-elect Donald Trump to take yet more military action in Somalia and the region.

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