08 November 2004

Far Outlying Election Reactions

On U.S. election day, Oxblogger Patrick Belton had an article in The Hill on How world capitals see Bush and Kerry. Here's what he had to say about Africa.
Ambassador Princeton Lyman, a former envoy in Nigeria and South Africa, fears a Kerry victory "might spell difficulty in obtaining congressional support for Bush's various initiatives for Africa--President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Millennium Challenge Account--since Republicans in Congress would be less likely to support these for a Democratic Administration at the same level."

Many African leaders, accordingly, prefer Bush. According to an official in the Central Intelligence Agency who studies the region, he has shown greater interest in Africa than its predecessor. Africa policy has been largely guided by energy interests, combined with a need for military support for regional peacekeeping missions such as in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Bush has formed close personal relationships with many west African heads of state, including the evangelical Christian Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Paul Biya of Cameroon, whose invitation to a state dinner in Washington in March 2003 represented a breaking point with his country's traditional alignment with the Elysée. (The shift was reinforced one year later, when Biya visited London and was greeted by working sessions with ministers and a reception by the Queen.) Conversely, there is growing discontent in Nigeria with the increasingly authoritarian and corrupt Obasanjo, whom the same analyst notes in 2003 received from Washington and London "a free pass in a very flawed election." Whichever administration finds itself in power during the next cycle of African elections in 2007 will have to choose whether to side with Washington's friends, or withhold its blessing should elections again result--as in 2003--in massive irregularities and evidence of violence and voter intimidation.

South Africa, which harbors ambitions of a global role via a permanent seat in the U.N. Security Council, is in the opposing camp and prefers Kerry as more likely to support the institution, notes Murray Wesson, a South African law researcher at Oxford.
In light of the results, Macam-macam summarizes the reactions of several Southeast Asian leaders, and Siberian Light discusses the prospects for Russian-American relations.

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