Tag Archives: africa

A tale of two Presidents

As we know, on Friday Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States. This was in a carefully choreographed handover of power, laid down by the Founding Fathers of the nation a couple of centuries ago. This is a country of 319 million people with a GDP per capita (PPP) of $53,750. Trump was elected in a process which took two years in total. Controversial but smooth.

Just a few hours before, election winner Adama Barrow was sworn in as President of The Gambia, one of Africa’s smallest states. It is smaller, in land area, than Yorkshire. It has 1.9 million people. The equivalent GDP figure here is 3% of that of the USA. This Presidential inauguration was rather different to the one in Washington DC.

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Extremely welcome news from The Gambia – ‘the marbles have spoken’

Well, well, well. Wonders never cease. President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia has conceded defeat after the country’s Presidential Election. Those are words I never thought anyone would write. Jammeh has been President of The Gambia for 22 years. He once said he would rule for ‘a billion years’. He has recently become increasingly erratic and autocratic.

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Liberal International’s African Reach

When Liberal International was founded in Oxford nearly 70 years ago it was very much a European affair. With the noble exception of Canada, Liberal parties and values were largely confined to northern Europe, but since then the picture has changed dramatically. As we in Britain lick our wounds from the double whammy of the Brexit vote and the triumph of Donald Trump in the United States let us take comfort from the fact that the Liberal family is growing worldwide. This was dramatically illustrated by the Liberal International (LI) Executive in Marrakesh, at which five new African parties – …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Zambia: one too many close calls for democracy?

Zambia 1Democracies in the developing world must often overcome a number of hurdles on the road to maturity and development as a stable state. Peaceful elections, a vibrant civil society, regular transfer of power, and fair service delivery are all key indicators of democratic development. No doubt, differences in the maturing of democracies should be considered based on local realities, and a so-called Western roadmap must not be the only lens through which we view this development.

But has the southern African country of Zambia, rich in copper and with plentiful tourism potential, had one too many close calls in its democratic development? Does Zambia and its people need to rethink their political path?

The most recent August 11th elections certainly give that impression.

This year’s General Elections resulted in the incumbent Edgar Lungu (Patriotic Front – PF) winning the presidential race by just over 2.5%, enough to avoid a second-round run-off. The liberal opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), led by Hakainde Hichilema, also lost the last presidential by-election by a mere 27,757 votes. Those early presidential elections were called after the passing of former President Michael Sata in 2014. On the surface, these results appear to be a sign of political maturity, with an election called upon President Sata’s death and an apparently democratic process in place for political succession.

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Africa’s Super Sunday

Recently on holiday in West Africa, I was somewhat torn. There was a strong temptation to leave my political conscience in a left luggage locker at Gatwick. Indeed, I think I did to an extent. I was, after all, on holiday and, being in a rural “eco lodge”, I was able to mix with ordinary Africans and provide some support to the local economy.

Posted in Op-eds | 3 Comments

Botswana elections: Liberal Democrats help sister party and its “calm revolutionary of our time”

Three chiefs and justice gaborone botswana by BoHeMIoYesterday was polling day in the General Election in Botswana. 57 parliamentary seats are up for grabs along with council seats across the country. The Botswana Democratic Party has been in power since the country gained independence in 1966. The Liberal Democrats have been helping our sister party, the Botswana Movement for Democracy, which has been fighting the election as part of a coalition of opposition parties, the Umbrella for Democratic Change. In early August, their campaign suffered a huge blow when BMD leader and Vice Presidential candidate Gomolemo Matswaledi was killed in a car accident on the way back from a visit to Johannesberg.

Top Liberal Democrat campaigns guru Victoria Marsom, who has the by-election victories in both Brent and Eastleigh under her belt, has been working closely with the BMD for the past year as part of a project funded by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. She’s travelled to Botswana twice, once in June and she’s there now for this last week of the campaign. I had a bit of a surprise the other night when I found this from her on my Facebook timeline:

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Opinion: Emerging markets could mean the end of the elephant, but it’s not too late

For some years I have been sponsoring an African Elephant called Grace. It was a birthday present that I have never had the heart to cancel. She is fortunate enough to live in a conservation area in Kenya. Grace is one of approximately 400,000 African Elephants still alive in the world, their population having been slashed by 50% since 1989, driven predominantly by the ivory trade. Despite an increasing shift in western attitudes very little has changed. Ever expanding globalisation and the economic crisis has resulted in several fluctuations in ivory demand, perpetuated by international ivory trade deals that have …

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    Dizzying and exciting. I do hope HQ systems withstand the strain of all the new members.
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