By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The US government says it will clamp down on individuals in the African continent that engage in electoral violence. A release signed this October 9, 2020, by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and association are at the heart of a functioning democracy.
“The United States is committed to supporting free, fair, inclusive elections. The conduct of elections is important not only for Africans but also for defenders of democracy around the world,” Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State said in a communiqué. “We believe all sides should participate peacefully in the democratic process. Repression and intimidation have no place in democracies.”
One of such measures that will be taken by the US government on Africans that will engage in violence is the imposition of travel restrictions. To Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State “We will watch closely the actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process and will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those responsible for election-related violence.”
“As long-time partners to the nations of Africa, we care about the region’s democratic trajectory and are committed to working constructively with international and regional partners,” He added.
The US Secretary of State has called on African countries to uphold democratic credentials and avoid acts that undermine freedoms. “The right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression and association are at the heart of a functioning democracy. Adherence to these democratic norms and the rule of law allows all citizens to engage in political dialogue and support their choice of candidates, parties, and platforms,” Mike Pompeo said.
It is not the first time that the global superpower has taken such moves. The US government placed travel restrictions on Nigerians who undermine “democratic process or organize election-related violence” during elections.
Last year, travel restrictions were placed on individuals who were involved in corruption and electoral violence during the country’s general election in February-March 2019, CNN reported.
With the strong warnings coming from the US leaders of political parties in the West African Country of Ghana have admonished their followers to be wary of irresponsible politicians who may want to use them to perpetrate acts of violence in the run-up to the 2020 elections, Citinewsroom reported.
Voters will December 7, 2020, go to the polls to elect a President and Parliamentarians to lead affairs in the country for the next four years. But as reported by citinewsroom, there have been reports of pockets of violence by some political actors.
Presidential elections are expected in 9 African countries by the conclusion of this year. By August 29, 4 had already taken place. Presidential elections are expected in Seychelles (October 22-24), Tanzania (October 28 for Presidential and Parliamentary elections), Ivory Coast (October 31 for Presidential and Parliamentary elections), Guinea (October 18 for Presidential election), CAR (December 27 for Presidential and Parliamentary elections), and Niger (December 27 for Presidential and Parliamentary elections).