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President Hage Geingob of Namibia addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., September 21, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - HT1EC9L17ZA2K
Africa in focus

Africa in the news: Namibia, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan, and Nigeria updates

Namibia reelects President Geingob while Guinea-Bissau’s elections will go to a run-off

On Saturday, November 30, Namibia’s electoral commission announced that incumbent President Hage Geingob won reelection with 56.3 percent of the vote. This will be Geingob’s second and final term, as the position is term limited. Though Geingob came away with a win, his support took a hit: He had won the 2014 election with 87 percent of the vote. Similarly, his ruling party’s presence in parliament will be lowered from 77 seats to 63. While critics have questioned some inaccuracy in the outcome, independent election observers have declared the elections free and fair.

Geingob had been facing headwinds going into this election as the Namibian economy struggled during his first term, suffering a three-year-long recession. A devastating recent drought has also taken a hit on people’s livelihoods. Further complicating his chances was the recent revelation of a bribery scandal in his government in which Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernhard Esau and Minister of Justice Sacky Shanghala, among other officials, were accused of taking bribes from an Icelandic fishing company and giving the company preferential access to Namibia’s fishing grounds.

Voters also went to the polls in Guinea-Bissau this week to elect a president. However, since no candidate won over 50 percent of the vote, there will be a run-off election on December 29. Notably, incumbent President Jose Mario Vaz, who won only 12 percent of the vote, accepted defeat on Thursday and will not participate in the run-off. Instead, the finalists will be former Prime Ministers Domingos Simoes Pereira and Umaro Sissoco Embalo.

For more on trends in African political leadership, see the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative’s African Leadership Transitions Tracker.

US appoints ambassador to Sudan amid Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s first official visit to DC

On Wednesday, December 4, during Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s first official visit to Washington, D.C., the United States declared that it would name an ambassador to Sudan for the first time in 23 years. Sudan will also restore full-level diplomatic representation. During his visit, Hamdok also sought support for Sudan’s transition to democracy and for Sudan’s removal from the U.S. “state sponsor of terrorism” list.

The exchange of ambassadors comes as a response to the ousting of former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019 and the later establishment of a civilian-led transitional government headed by Hamdok. The United States has praised Hamdok’s efforts to reform Sudan’s political system and break with the practices of the previous regime.

In an example of these efforts, on Thursday, December 5, Sudan’s Sovereign Council and Cabinet announced the disbanding of the National Congress Party (NCP), established by former President Bashir, and to cancel the Public Order Law, which enforced strict moral codes and disproportionately affected women. Hamdok has emphasized that these actions were taken in order to “establish justice and respect for the dignity of the people of Sudan.”

Nigeria economic update

On Thursday, December 5, the Nigerian Senate passed its 2020 budget, approving a total of $35 billion for spending, the country’s highest budget yet. The budget assumes a deficit of 1.52 percent of Nigeria’s estimated gross domestic product (GDP)—around $6 billion—to be financed through foreign and domestic borrowing. It also assumes crude oil production of 2.18 million barrels a day with an oil price of $57 per barrel. The budget is a slight increase from the spending plan presented to the Senate by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in October.

In other Nigerian economic news, on Wednesday, Moody’s Investors Service, a global credit rating agency, changed its outlook on Nigeria’s rating from stable to negative. The agency cited increased risk to government revenue as the reason for the outlook downgrade. The agency also noted that the Nigerian economy remains vulnerable to oil price changes.

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