8 November 2012

Gambia: 2012 American Election Night On the Spotlight

column

Millions of people across the globe were on Tuesday night glued to their televisions to watch the live coverages of the United States of America 2012 Election; an opportunity that availed them to witness every stage of the process, until the results of the tightly contested race started trickling across the country shortly after polls were closed in some states.

The Election Night that went all through, into early Wednesday morning, when Republican challenger Mitt Romney conceded defeat and President Obama delivered his victory speech, which was the culmination of months of intense campaigning, characterised by debates on key issues; including foreign policy, social security, national security, immigration, the economy, employment and so on; all meant to woo voters to secure the nation's top job. The night was also the end result of a tough race punctuated by attacks and counterattacks on fulfilled or failed policies or promises, and over all the way forward for the United States of America.

With the candidates all having had their chance of selling their future programmes and policies to the voters, the verdict was eventually delivered when incumbent President Obama was declared winner at4:18am GMT, after surpassing the decisive 270-vote threshold in the 'Electoral College' with victory in Ohio and a later projected victory in another swing state - Virginia - that earned him 303 electoral votes against the 206 for Romney.

Prior to that, as a tradition in The Gambia, the Election Night Reception was organised in the country by the United States Embassy in Banjul at its ambassador's residence in Fajara. It was a night that attracted the attendance of a broad spectrum of people, including the representatives of the civil society and Non-Governmental Organisation communities, the diplomatic community, selected members of the media fraternity, United States Peace Corps volunteers, and staff of the Embassy.

Most prominent among the dignitaries present at the US Election Night in The Gambia was the country's first female Foreign Affairs minister, Susan Wafo Ogo, accompanied by the Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology minister, Dr. Mammadou Tangara, who watched together the results of the tightly contested White House race with the rest of the invited guests.

The event kicked-off proper when the newly appointed United States ambassador to The Gambia, His Excellency David M. Alford took to the podium to enthusiastically welcome the distinguished guests. "Americans tend to be proud of their country and I don't think we are ever proud of it than Election Night.

Our system, after over 200 years of reinventing itself, continues to put out the best of the wealth of the people. The process can be a little messy; there is a lot of passion and a lot of contentions. American election seem remarkably the same, but it evolves over the years," Ambassador Alford, who began his diplomatic career in 1978, told a keen listening audience.

The US chief diplomat to The Gambia seized the opportunity to praise the country's great people who worked so hard to make these institutions work, saying: "We do think of our great people who made these institutions work and tonight as we cast out votes, we watch the glory of American democracy."

With four more years in office, only time will tell how Obama delivers on his promises he made to the electorates during the campaign; as well as how he strengthens his foreign policy with the world, especially Africa.

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