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Senegal Elections: A First Take By John Cambell

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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.

Thabo Mbeki on Sovereignty and Democracy in Africa

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http://blogs.cfr.org/campbell/2012/02/23/thabo-mbeki-on-sovereignty-and-democracy-in-africa/

Mbeki focuses on Libya while acknowledging that intervention in Ivory Coast also carries many of the same lessons. He recalls the adoption by the African Union Peace and Security Council of a roadmap for the resolution of the Libyan conflict, which secured Qaddafi’s agreement. The AU then forwarded its decision to the UN and the Arab league.

However, the UN Security Council ignored the African Union and took as the justification for its actions the positions taken by the Arab League. It adopted Resolution 1973, which provided the justification for NATO “to intervene in Libya to impose a violent resolution to this conflict, centered on regime change—which was not the intention of Resolution 1973.”

Mbeki charges President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron, President Sarkozy, and the UN with imposing their own solution on an African state. (He denies that Qaddafi was intent on making war on his own people.) It particularly sticks in his craw that the UN gave greater weight to the Arab League than to the African Union; in effect, he accuses the UN of detaching Libya from Africa.

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