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
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
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
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
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.