Home | Comment & Analysis    Wednesday 22 February 2006

Make or Break time for Democracy in Africa: Election Season starts

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By Scott A. Morgan

Feb 22, 2006 — Over the next 30 days there will be two highly contested and controversial elections in Central and Eastern Africa. The polls will be occurring in countries where lately bullets not ballots often decide the rites of succession in the annals of government. The strategists in Brussels, Washington and Banjul had better pay attention the first election occurs this week (as this item is being recorded.)

The spotlight first shines on erstwhile American ally Uganda. Recently there has been a spate of violence where members of the Opposition have been targeted for violence. One incident occurred when a convoy of Humvees drove through a rally waiting to hear a Presidential Candidate speak. This incident comes on the heels of a police officer shooting into another rally killing at least two people.

When agents of the state commit these acts its shows how they truly feel about Democratic Ideals. They wish to maintain the Status Quo. Now the President of Uganda has stated that they will take their “element” in the war against terror to neighboring states if need be. Late last year Ugandan forces deployed to the border with the DRC when it was reported that a Militia was taking refuge there. Ugandan forces are already conducting Search and Destroy Operations against the same Militia in the Southern Sudan.

If President Museveni wins this highly charged election the question must be asked will there be another war in the region? Well that is only half the equation. The other half takes place in March when finally the long suffering people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo head to the polls to determine what path that massive entity will take as it emerges from violence.

The DRC was the scene of what many refer to as Africa’s World War. Six nations including Uganda sent forces to intervene. Over 2 million people lost their lives in six years. It should be noted that Militia Groups run rampant still in the east of the country and the long rebellious province of Katanga is the scene of recent strife as well.

These elections together must be seen as a barometer as to whether or not Democracy has the potential to take fruit or if its possible of some regional conflict breaking out. There are reports that Kenya is deploying forces to its border for such a possibility. There are new charges that Khartoum is again providing material support for the LRA. It seems that on this crucial election that the electorate may be intimidated into supporting the ruling party.

What happens in the DRC may be the wild card. The UN has asked the Europeans to augment the security forces for the election. They have agreed to send 1,250 troops but have not specified where they will come from. The tensions are rising again in Sudan. There are new reports of violence from Darfur spreading into Chad. Isn’t it amazing what elections in one country can do to cause fear in its neighbors?

* The author comments on US Policy in Africa and the struggle for Human Rights in Africa. He is a contributing writer to www.frontpageafrica.com and other sites.He can be contacted at scott_morgan_23220@yahoo.com



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