Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Senegal Elections: A First Take

http://blogs.cfr.org/campbell/2012/02/28/senegal-elections-a-first-take/

The experience of Ivory Coast should temper unbounded optimism about the elections, however. The Ivorian 2010 polling — the first in a decade — went well. There was a subsequent runoff between the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara. But, the runoff was marred by irregularities with both candidates declaring victory, setting up parallel administrations, and there was a low level civil war resolved in the end by the UN and the French. The country now appears superficially calm, but divisions persist.  I am hopeful, even optimistic, that there will be no replay of the Ivory Coast scenario in Senegal. The former was characterized by “big man” rule under Houphouet Boigny that in effect stunted the development of a democratic culture. There was a recent history of civil war and the continued existence of parallel armed forces. There are ethnic and religious divisions often bundled together under the rubrics of “settlers” versus indigenes. Valuable commodities — cocoa, oil — distort politics.
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