Jump to navigation

confidentially speaking

The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 5th November 2020

US vote resounds in Africa

Blue Lines

For listeners across Africa, United States President Donald Trump's dawn broadcast asserting that he had won the 3 November election and ordering vote counting to stop had a surreal if not unfamiliar quality. Analysts at the Brussels-based Crisis Group have already announced they will monitor the risks of political violence in the US, given the deep polarisation of politics there, rampant hate speech on social media together with armed non-state actors and militias, such as the Boogaloo Movement and the Proud Boys.

Others are trying to divine what the outcome of the US Presidential elections would mean for Washington's foreign policy. Should Trump retain the presidency, no one expects he would relent on his core aims: trade war with China, and exit from the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization. He would keep strong ties to Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia and would continue to veto Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next director general of the World Trade Organization despite her majority support among members.

Challenger Joe Biden's policy would be close to a mirror image: he would immediately re-join the climate accord and the WHO, and quickly end the block on Okonjo-Iweala. Two of the contenders in the frame to be Biden's Secretary of State, former Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice and Democratic Senator Chris Coons, have extensive Africa experience. But as the electoral disputes rumble in Washington, new diplomatic appointments are some way off.