Foreign Policy Blogs

Election Problems Across Africa


The day after I post something about the upcoming independence referendum in Sudan, election problems boil over in two other countries on the continent. The Guinean military has proclaimed a state of emergency following a disputed election earlier this month, and reports are emerging of a military coup in Madagascar this morning.

On November 7, Guinea held its first free presidential elections since it achieved independence from France in 1958. Opposition leader Alpha Conde was declared the winner of the vote but his rival Cellou Dalein Diallo is challenging the decision in the Supreme Court. Guinean law gives the Court eight days to announce a final decision.

Three days of street violence prompted the army to declare the state of emergency today. The Koloma, Hamdallaya, Bambeto, Cosa, and Simbaya neighborhoods of Conakry, the capital, have been the worst affected, with Human Rights Watch reporting two people dead and dozens injured. Supporters of Diallo, many of which belong to the Peul ethnic group, continue to clash with Conde’s mainly Malinke backers and government security forces. Ordinary citizens are now prevented from moving freely on the streets until the emergency is lifted.

Meanwhile, in Madagascar, Colonel Charles Andrianasoavina has proclaimed himself and twenty other military officers in control of the national government. The proclamation comes in the midst of referendum on the country’s new constitution. If the constitution is approved, current President Andry Rajoelina would remain in power indefinitely. Rajoelina enjoyed popular support when he came to power last March.

According to witnesses in Antananarivo, the capital, the streets are quiet following Colonel Andrianasoavina’s declaration. It remains to be seen what happens to the constitution referendum, and what kind of government this politically unstable Indian Ocean island will eventually have.

Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera.