Not so free, and not so fair elections: A look at Belarus, Egypt, and Tanzania in 2020…

Are you sick of hearing about the U.S Elections? Great! Then why don’t we take your mind off it by looking at more elections!

Probably unbeknownst to most; the U.S elections haven’t been the only elections to take place recently. Places like Belarus, Egypt and Tanzania, have all recently had important elections in their country’s.

Though there’s a stark difference between these elections, and the ones over in the states.

Regardless of what Donald Trump would have to say on the matter; these other countries are home to provenly ‘suspicious’ elections.

Belarus

Belarus had its presidential election on 9th August, 2020. Not so long ago, or maybe a lifetime in covid years.

Even at this current moment, protests are still taking place in the aftermath of this election. Just yesterday, Amnesty International reported that more than 1000 peaceful protesters were arrested in a single day.

So what’s going on, and why are these people protesting?

Well, it all comes back to the presidential election.

Incumbent Alexander Lukashenko, has been president of Belarus since 1994.

Apart from his first victory in 1994, international watchdogs have critiqued his subsequent elections as being neither free nor fair.

When aiming for his sixth term in 2020, Lukashenko faced Belarusian human rights activist: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya as his opponent.

After her husband, a presidential candidate, was arrested; she decided to take his place.

Tsikhanouskaya promised to introduce free and fair elections if elected, and also promised the release of all political prisoners being held in Belarus.

When the exit poll came out on election night, results had Lukashenko on 79.7% and Tsikhanouskaya on 6.8%.

Immediately, his opponent claimed that the results were falsified when they were revealed on the next day. Tsikhanouskaya also claimed that she had won a 60% majority on the first round of the count.

Her campaign proceeded to set up a ‘Coordination Council’ which aimed to facilitate a transfer of power, or else coordinate ‘long-term protests’ against the government.

Within days, all seven members of the council were either arrested or went into exile.

In the end, Lukashenko ended up winning 80% of the vote, and went on to receive international condemnation in regards to the election’s conduct.

The European Union, Lithuania, and Slovakia; all imposed sanctions against the Belarusian government, and have urged the country to carry out a verified recount.

Egypt

On 24-25th October, an election took place in Egypt to elect it’s parliament.

Current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, already won his presidency in undemocratic elections in the past.

In the 2018 Egyptian presidential elections, Sisi won 97% of the popular vote when he ran against a pro-government politician, the only opposition that was allowed to contest the election.

Fast forward to the 2020 parliamentary elections, much of the same undemocratic conduct still remains.

Opposition candidates are routinely imprisoned, with a recent oppositional coalition called ‘The Plan for Hope;’ being imprisoned after the government claimed they were secretly working with terrorists.
With the field of candidates dried up, only pro-government ones remained.

It’s suspected in Egypt that not only votes are bought, but actual seats inside its parliament are too.

A pro-Sisi lawler recently let it slip that parliament seats are given to “whoever can pay.”

This attracts plenty of the shady businessmen type, as a seat in parliament acquires many benefits.

The main and most attractive being immunity from prosecution.

Results of the election won’t be known until December, but in the end, Egypt’s parliament will still be full of pro-Sisi politicians, with democracy still a farce.

Tanzania

John Mugufuli, nicknamed ‘the bulldozer,’ won Tanzania’s 28th October 2020 presidential election with 84% of the popular vote. An apt nickname for someone who ‘bulldozed’ the competition, if it was, in fact, a legitimate election.

Magufuli has been Tanzania’s president since 2015, but since then he’s been plagued with accusations of autocratic rule, suppression of speech, and crackdowns against opposition.

Even journalists must be escorted around by state officials.

Magufuli also claims that there is no coronavirus in Tanzania, and when he was challenged on this by the local television station; he had it shut down.

He promised that the 2020 presidential election would be a ‘free and fair election.’

The evidence shows quite the contrary.

Tundu lissu was the main opposition for the election, but he faced mammoth obstacles in his campaign.

The National Electoral Commission (NEC), run by the president’s appointed friends, barred Lissu and the opposition from campaigning; but let the president himself campaign.

A recent tax on promotional materials meant that the opposition couldn’t even afford campaign posters.

Complicated laws in the country haven’t stopped the state from being above it entirely.

Lissu’s rallies gathered thousands of supporters, but were frequently interrupted by the firing of police tear gas.

Intense violence has broken since the election result, with the government censoring social media posts showcasing police shootings and assault from security forces.

The European Union, US State Department, and the Commonwealth, have all heavily condemned Tanzania’s election.

Photo by Artem Podrez is licensed under CC0