I write this piece not to cast aspersion on our international election observers or observer missions, but to critically examine how helpful, impactful or counterproductive their role generally, have been, in enhancing or rendering bogus, our electioneering processes and democracies. This is also acknowledging that a lot of money is always expended during these observer missions.
Since many African elections seem to be characterized by massive rigging, fraud and systemic irregularities, either by the ruling parties and/or presidents, so as to perpetuate their power at will, or maintain undue influence and control over successive governments, international election observation, though not an end, is vital in objectively defining and classifying the level of democracy in each African government and country.
It must be noted that several so-called “peaceful, free, fair, transparent and credible” elections in most African countries have often left opposition parties and their supporters, (some of whom form the actual majority in their countries,) feeling grossly dissatisfied about the entire electioneering processes, with painful cries of “foul and fraud;” while most international observer missions have registered complete credibility to the elections and attending processes.
In which case, I think there is either a complete unintentional painful disconnect between the aggrieved opposition parties and these international election observers, or a shrewd contrivance between the ruling parties and these international observers, to illegitimately retain them in power against the popular mandate of the masses. I frankly want to believe the former scenario to be the case generally. Otherwise, the latter could be summed up to what the great Pan-African progenitor, Kwame Nkrumah referred to as, “neo-colonialism, the last stage of imperialism.”
In the light of the above, I have observed over the years that most “electoral frauds” cannot be observed or ascertained by superficially “watching” the peaceful and orderly conduct of the voters on “polling day.”
Firstly, I would like to opine that the “credibility” of any election rests with ensuring a “credible final voter roll” that is agreeable to all political actors and voters. So when the process of obtaining this is done in a haphazard, amateur or compromised manner, the outcome of any ensuing election could be largely considered fraudulent or questionable.
Furthermore, anomalies like “ballot box stuffing, over or multiple voting, exchange of ballot boxes, etc, normally happens in camera, or in such clandestine ways that the election observers can neither be aware of, merely watching through; including during transfer of ballot boxes to counting booths, regardless of a “peaceful and orderly conduct of voters” and the voting process.
So, there is need for international election observers to arrive at least a month before the ‘’final voter register/roll” is published: so as to liaise with local election observers, civil society movements, democratic institutions and all political parties, (especially the opposition,) to abreast them with which critical areas, after the polling, they need to pay close observation to; which otherwise may have the tendency to be interfered with, or may characterize cheating or electoral fraud.
That is why, for the past ten to twenty years, (or more,) amidst the international observers rating several elections as “free, fair, transparent and credible,” the opposition and masses have felt “disenfranchised,” while corrupt and repressive regimes remain in power, against the popular mandate of the masses; often eventually resulting to civil disobedience, unrests and wars sooner or later. This has been the case with Uganda, Burundi, the DRC, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Kenya, etc.
And in the most recent electoral fraud/controversy in Kenya, we all are aware that while the international election observer missions unanimously declared the elections, overwhelmingly “credible,” the Kenyan Supreme Court found it later “non credible” and ordered a “re-run” of the entire elections; which ruling also made the international observer missions to “apologize” for not having followed the process thoroughly. The outcome of the Liberian elections is still under litigation; to be concluded probably in the next two weeks.
This is very counterproductive to fostering true democracy and good governance in Africa; and by extension maintaining peace and stability on the continent. And as much as all African states are independent and sovereign, “sanctioning fraudulent elections legitimizes corrupt and repressive regimes in Africa. Whereas denouncing them places moral illegitimacy on them, while also pressurizing them, through sanctions and other diplomatic measures, into allowing the popular will of the masses to eventually prevail, sooner than later.
In resume therefore, if democratic elections, which form an integral part of true African democracy and good governance is being “hijacked” and compromised by corrupt and repressive rulers and governments, the furtherance of peace, stability, economic growth and general prosperity would be undermined – and the international community should not be seen to be in complicity with such repressive and sinister regimes at that. Otherwise, it must be noted that the Sovereign Lord, who is the ultimate Judge of all the earth, history and posterity in Africa, will certainly bring these powers and intrigues to reckoning.
LONG LIVE AFRICAN DEMOCRACY! LONG LIVE THE “BELEAGERED AND BLEEDING PEOPLES” OF AFRICA! AND MAY THE JUST LORD OF THE EARTH TURN AWAY OUR CAPTIVITY, AND JUDGE BOTH OUR LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL CARTEL OF OPPRESSORS.
Rev. Dr. Abraham J. Williams
(Clergyman/Human Rights Advocate)
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: +231 777 128502 / 888 229348