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Africa: 2004, the Year of Elections; This Year Promises to Be an Eventful One as a Record 13 African Countries Hold General or Presidential Elections

Article excerpt

Leading the list is South Africa whose parliamentary election is expected in August. After 10 years of majority rule, the country still faces the challenge of transferring economic power from the white minority to the black majority. The dominance of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the past two elections is now being criticised as a deficiency in the country's democracy.

The other giant in this election galore is Ghana where President John Agyekum Kufuor is expected to win another term in the December 2004 presidential and parliamentary elections. Though not yet out of the woods, the economy has been stabilised and Kufuor's government is reaping the benefits. Except for two recent foreign policy gaffes (Ghana signing an agreement with the US to exempt American citizens from prosecution at the ICC, and Ghana supporting Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth), Kufuor's government has had a smooth run so far.

In Malawi, a further attempt to consolidate democracy will be made in the third multiparty elections scheduled for May. Dr Mbigu wa Mutharika (the chosen successor of the outgoing president, Bakili Muluzi) is reported to be leading the list of favourites. Eleven political parties peacefully contested the last elections in 1999. Muluzi won 93.8% of the presidential vote, but has reached the constitutional two-term limit and although still very popular, he cannot run again.

In Namibia, presidential and parliamentary elections are expected in November. This will be yet another new chapter in the country's democracy. …