Up to Speed, Issue 4: Hurricanes and Tanzanian Election Madness

By Levin Stamm

Collage by Emma Kappeyne van de Coppello

In the midst of non-stop reports, statistics and exclamations about the 2020 U.S. presidential election, other events and news from around the world may have escaped your attention. But fear not – The Herring’s biweekly current affairs summary helps you stay up to speed. In today’s edition: Among others, the election of a corona skeptic president in Tanzania and a Qanon supporter into the American congress.

Hurricane Eta kills hundreds in Central America and Mexico

The tropical storm has been ravaging in the region for days, already claiming at least 80 fatalities. Guatemala was hit particularly hard, where a small village in the centre of the country was swallowed by a landslide – its 125 residents are believed to be dead. Also Nicaraguan municipality Puerto Cabezas at the Caribbean coast was heavily hit by the Eta with tens of thousands having to be evacuated by the government. The area is known to be one of the poorest in the country, leaving its largely indigenous population especially vulnerable to Eta’s far-reaching damages.

(Sources: The New York Times, Washington Post)

Tanzania: Coronavirus skeptic elected for second term

John Magufuli has been re-elected as president of Tanzania. The 61 year old chairman of the governing Party of the Revolution has won the election against his competitor with 80 percent of votes. However, both domestic and foreign electoral observers reject the result, noting the harassment and arrest of oppositional figures and silencing of the press in the weeks before the election. Magufuli – also known as “the Bulldozer” – has sparked international attention for his mega-infrastructure projects and fight against corruption in recent years. Also his approach to combat COVID-19 has been rather unusual: Not publishing any case numbers since April, Magufuli has declared the country to be “coronavirus-free”. And further: “I believe, and I’m certain that many Tanzanians believe, that the corona disease has been eliminated by God,” he said back in June.

(Sources: The New York Times, BBC)

Ethiopia on the edge of a civil war?

The Ethiopian government under prime minister Abiy Ahmed has declared a state of emergency in the northern Tigray region. In a statement issued last Wednesday, PM Abiy accused the opposition-led regional government of having attacked a military base with federal troops. Saturday’s vote by the upper house of parliament now gives the prime minister the power to replace the government under the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) with a new centrally imposed administration. Experts fear an escalation into a bloody civil war, which may also have a destabilising effect on neighbouring countries Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia.

(Source: Al Jazeera, The Guardian)

U.S.: QAnon supporter is now a congresswoman-elect 

While Donald Trump has to vacate his post in the White House, supporters of the extreme right-wing conspiracy theory, QAnon, can score their first political success in national American politics. Marjorie Taylor Greene is the first politician supporting QAnon’s ideas openly to be elected into the House of Representatives. Even though her election in one of Georgia’s most conservative districts is not unexpected, it still puts the Republican party in an ideologically uncomfortable position. QAnon is the “umbrella term for a sprawling set of internet conspiracy theories that allege, falsely, that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who are plotting against Mr. Trump while operating a global child sex-trafficking ring.”

(Source: The New York Times)

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