Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Election Season Africa: Chad, Niger

Chad has been trying to hold elections for years but has repeatedly had to postpone due to security concerns and rebel attacks. Parliamentary polls were finally held in February this year. Now, President Deby has announced the postponement of presidential elections after opposition parties threatened to boycott, demanding new voter cards and lists. The new poll date is 3 April. It is unclear whether the oppositions demands could be met in that time.

In Niger, a successful run-off election was held to choose a civilian leader who will assume power from the military, a year after a coup ousted former-president Tadja after he tried to entrench power and limit democratic freedom. He also stands accused of fraud totaling millions of dollars of the poor country's limited public funds. The military junta and their coup were not welcomed by everyone and some are still concerned about the situation. But the military has successfully worked with the UN to avert a famine, proposed and held a referendum on a new constitution that prescribes term limits and prevents soldiers from running for office and now held a first round and run-off presidential election. An achievement that would be remarkable for some civilian leaderships in Africa.

The election has been won by veteran opposition leader Issoufou who defeated a party-ally of the ousted president in the run-off election. Election observers from ECOWAS and the AU have approved the electoral process. Issoufou will take over from General Djibo in April, fulfilling the military junta's promise to hand back rule to a civilian government by April 6.

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