Niger and Tunisia 2009
Two fake elections were held in Africa last week:
On October 20, a contested snap legislative election was held for Niger’s 113-seat unicameral National Assembly was held after President Mamadou Tandja dissolved the legislature in May 2009. The pesky legislature had attempted to block Tandja’s efforts to repeal presidential term limits allowing him to run again. These efforts succeeded in a contested referendum of dubious legality in August 2009, with 92.5% of the votes in favour of the term limit repeals. As a result, this election was boycotted by the majority of the opposition (with a few exceptions) and Tandja’s ‘centre-right’ National Movement for the Society of Development (MNSD) easily won. The MNSD won 76 seats out of the National Assembly’s 113 seats, up from 47 seats in 2004. Parties allied to the ruling party won 26 seats, and Independents won the remaining 11 seats.
A presidential and legislative election was held in Tunisia on October 25. Tunisia has been ruled since independence in 1957 by only two Presidents: the famous Habib Bourguiba and, since 1987, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Ben Ali, a ‘centre-leftist’ and militant secularist, is a member of the ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), a continuation of Bourguiba’s old Socialist Destourian Party and that party’s predecessors. Ben Ali has been re-elected since 1989 with extremely high percentages, such as 94.5% in 2004. This election proved a deception, given that Ben Ali won only 89.62% of the vote. Mohamed Bouchiha of the Party of Popular Unity (PUP) was his closest “rival” with only 5.01% of the vote. Ahmed Inoubli of the Unionist Democratic Union won 3.8% and Ahmed Ibrahim of the communist Movement Ettajdid won 1.57%. The RCD also won 84.59% of the vote in the legislative elections, winning 161 seats out of 214.