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Trump’s ‘Rigged Election’ Remarks Are ‘A Gift To Dictators,’ Say Africans

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Trump’s ‘Rigged Election’ Remarks Are ‘A Gift To Dictators,’ Say Africans


By Ed Cropley

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – If Donald Trump is interested in rigged elections, Zimbabwean opposition leader Tendai Biti says he could teach him a thing or two. Biti was arrested for treason and detained for a month after daring to suggest his party had defeated President Robert Mugabe in a vote in 2008.

“They denied me food. They beat me up. They put me in leg irons. They beat me in the private parts,” Biti, a lawyer who later served as finance minister in an eventual unity government, told Reuters. “That’s real election rigging.”

To opposition figures in Africa, and in other parts of the world that lack the 240-year U.S. history of peaceful transitions of power, Trump’s assertion that November’s U.S. presidential election will be “rigged”, and his declaration that he may not accept the outcome, are dangerous words.

“Donald Trump is a gift to all tin-pot dictators on the African continent. He is giving currency and legitimacy to rigging because if it can exist in America, it can exist anywhere,” Biti said.

“He has no idea what he’s talking about, absolutely no idea,” said Biti, who speaks from the experience of three election defeats to Mugabe, a 92-year-old ex-guerrilla who has run Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. “It makes us cross because in Africa there’s real election rigging.”

Long-serving rulers who have faced U.S. criticism in the past are already using Trump’s remarks to counter Washington’s pro-democracy message.

When Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in power for 30 years, won re-election to his seventh term in February, U.S. officials accused his government of arresting opposition figures, harassing their supporters and intimidating the media.

Trump’s comments, said Museveni’s spokesman Don Wanyama, “should be an eye-opener to them. As they sit down to lecture other countries, they should realize that it’s not easy.”

“Democracy is a process and it really takes time.”

Trump refused during a debate on Wednesday to say whether he would respect the result of the Nov. 8 poll. That sent a chill down the spine of Musikari Kombo, a former local government minister in Kenya, where 1,500 people were killed in a wave of ethnic bloodletting unleashed by disputes over the result of a 2007 election.

“I was shocked. I was horrified,” Kombo said. “People in Africa who have always challenged elections will say: ‘You see, we are vindicated. Even in the Mother of all Democracies, the presidential candidate is not willing to accept because there is rigging.'”

U.S. officials, including state governors from Trump’s own Republican Party, say there is no serious vote fraud problem in the United States and the election will be clean.

Nevertheless, Trump and some allies have alleged anomalies in the voter roll in cities such as Philadelphia and Chicago that could allow the votes of dead people to be counted on behalf of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

It is hard to think what they would have made of this year’s election in Gabon, where opposition leader Jean Ping cried foul after narrowly losing to President Ali Bongo, whose family have ruled the oil-producing former French colony for half a century.

The focus of Ping’s concern was the province of Haut-Ogooue, where results showed 95.46 percent of voters backed Bongo on a turnout of 99.9 percent, more than double anywhere else.

Gabon’s constitutional court – led by the long-time mistress of Bongo’s father, Omar – upheld the result.

“I would say to Mr. Trump ‘Come to Gabon to see what a fake democracy looks like, to see what a stolen election looks like,'” said Alexandre Barro Chambrier, a senior Ping adviser. “There is no democracy here. There is the rule of one family and one man imposing a dictatorial regime,” he added. “Mr Trump is not serious.”

(Additional reporting by Edward McAllister, Edmund Blair and Elias Biryabarem; Editing by Peter Graff)



  1. charleo1 October 22, 2016

    Who would have guessed that Trump would say something that has fostered anti-democratic sentiments the World over? Now, Trumpites let’s see if we can’t get this message being spread all across the World, by the most powerful person, from the oldest democracy on the Planet. Is that how angry your are? How much you hate Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama before her? Or Bill Clinton before Obama? All hated more than you love the concepts and principles of democracy? More than you love America?

    1. CrankyToo October 22, 2016

      Ease up, Chuck. Can’t you see? That horse is dead.

      1. charleo1 October 22, 2016

        When did this happen? No body ever tells me anything!

        1. CrankyToo October 22, 2016

          Damn, Bro. You’ve been hanging out on this rag long enough to know you can’t tell these cons sh1t. You sure as hell can’t appeal to the conscience none of them have. It’s like kicking a dead horse.

  2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth October 22, 2016

    Trump and his supporters are moving ever closer to mimicking the atmosphere of suspicion that suffuses many countries in Africa, across Russia, among nations in Latin America, and China. This suspicion arouses a primitive response mechanism in “deplorable” people, which normal people have learned long ago how to suppress.
    Linking Trump’s evil suggestions about rigging with Mugabe, and the way he has manipulated Zimbabwe and fueled suspicion and reprisals, is a chilling prospect for America.

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  4. Jon October 22, 2016

    The shining beacon of democracy is being turned into the search light seeking dissidents to punish by Trump and his wicked supporters. His and their slash and burn style of politics ignore everything that has made the American experiment in democracy an outstanding success for 2 score and 2 centuries. What was the brilliant example for others to emulate is being obliterated by a man would who has little understanding of and no respect or appreciation for democracy. The irony is, if not for our proud democratic process, this man who seeks its destruction would never have had access to the platform he has as a candidate for president of our proud nation.

  5. FireBaron October 23, 2016

    Little did Karl Rove (good old “Turd Blossom”) realize when he envisioned his “Thousand year reich”, oh, sorry, I mean Permanent Republican Majority and Presidency, that someone like Teflon Donnie would come along and remove all pretense of Democracy from his vision, and attempt to turn the US into a Third-World Dictatorship, just like his buddy, Vladimir Vladimirovich, Tsar of All Russias.

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