11 November 2012

Tanzania: Does Obama's Re-Election Translate to World Peace?


THE election results in the US cannot be ignored by any citizen of this world. The election of President Barack Obama following the just ended presidential elections is a clear indication that the Americans have used their vote decisively.

But why is the world so excited by the results? This is a crucial question that everyone is trying to answer using his or her own political interpretation of the global events. There are those who feel sigh of relief that the world is much more secured and safer under the leadership of the democrats, who they consider much more sober and define them as peace doves.

As one surfs the world on the internet to see different reactions from the citizens of different countries, it is easy to observe the expression thanks God that the world will continue to enjoy peace and tranquility under the wise leadership of President Obama and his Democratic Party. But in our context in Tanzania there is a lot that the country can learn from the US elections, especially for the East African Community, which some members are very soon going to elect their leaders.

These countries that are following the path to democracy should be able to take stock of some of the good practices that emerged in the US elections. When the results for the US presidential election were announced on Wednesday the US ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Alfonso Lenhardt, said that President Obama's victory was a testimony of free, fair, transparent and peaceful transition in the US elections, saying citizens must honour elections achieved in such a manner.

He said this at the Election Day breakfast reception held at the US embassy in Dar es Salaam after the President was declared the winner in 2012 US Presidential Elections.The ambassador said that the US election process that the American people went through in electing their president was transparent which other democratic countries can emulate. "Whoever wins you can expect a gracious expression of succession and a peaceful transition," he said.

"It is an excellent experience altogether seeing the process, how it unfolds, which everyone can emulate, adding that the principle of free and fair elections is exemplified in today's American elections," he explained. However, the US presidential inauguration ceremony will take place on the steps of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC on January 21, next year. The tempo of over 200 guests who attended the breakfast reception at the embassy recently including government officials, members of diplomatic corps and the media, Tanzanians from various civic sectors and Americans residing in the country were all holding their breath waiting for the results.

The ambassador described the excitement in that breakfast event that started at 5am morning as characterised by people who were waiting anxiously to hear the outcome of the voting. "Democracy is not an easy process where it ends up, but it works and people make it," he said. He said that the American people commitment to Tanzania will continue, since the two countries remain to be important strategic partners. The winner announcement which was announced by CNN live was after hard fought campaigns that included extensive travel throughout the United States by the Candidates, three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate.

The East African countries can also borrow a leaf from the election results especially on the issue of conceding defeat. For example, the American politicians have a unique culture of accepting results no matter what is the outcome. In two recent elections, that of 2008 and the current one, the opponents were ready to accept the results. For example, in 2008 the former presidential candidate, Mr McCain, conceded the results immediately when he lost against Obama's.

This time President Obama's opponent in the race, who represented the Republican Party, Mr Mitt Romney conceded the defeat a short while after the results were announced. Of course to many of us this is a healthy political culture which is worth being emulated. For those who were present at the breakfast event at the embassy, their reactions were reflecting a democracy that is worth emulating. Reacting to the outcome of the elections, the Chairman of the Committee of Six which formed the government of national unity in Zanzibar, Mr Ali Mzee Ali, said that it was time that politicians should learn to emulate the culture of conceding defeat.

"It is important to respect the constitution upon reaching the national consensus on political issues," he said. He urged that this can be achieved if people are given opportunity to learn about democracy and its processes. He said that elections were the best way of getting democratic leaders and therefore he urged that people in Tanzania should inculcate the culture of conceding defeat. Another remark came from a US citizen working for AFRICARE, Ms Ranahnah Afriye, who attended the breakfast reception, describing Obama's victory as relief to the American nation, which is now free from wars.

"He delivered what he had promised the American people, ending wars which were a burden to the taxpayers both in Iraq and Afghanistan," she said. But she was quick to say that the challenge ahead of the Democrats is to improve the economy and cut down even further the rate of unemployment in the US. "There are many young Americans who have finished college but are jobless which the President will have to make a priority this time to find a solution," she said. Another thing that has excited Ms Afriye is the fact that the Democrats will have the majority in the US Senate this time, which she was optimistic that it will work very well for them in delivering the president's commitment to the people.

A Tanzanian who attended the breakfast who preferred anonymity said that he was sure that the rich people in the US including multinational corporations who were enjoying extensive tax exemptions will find it hard for them under the new Obama administration. "It is obvious that they know that President Obama will hit hard on the rich, that they should be paying taxes to fuel the economy, the idea which many Republicans do not like," he said.

In his remarks on the election results, Masoud Salim, Youth leader, said that he was impressed by the way Obama had embarked on his election campaign. "Obama started early organising his campaign and straight away visited Ohio, when he was installed as a president," he said. He also described the election to be transparent. The election fever is now over and the results are out. But what does it mean to an ordinary citizen of the world from Africa to Middle East, as well as Asia and Latin America? Nothing is joyous than to realize that the US elections results translate to peace in the world.

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