| By Anayo Ezugwu |
THE year 2012 was an election year for many countries around the world. As expected, there were winners and losers. President Barack Obama of the United States joined the ranks of the US presidents who got a second term mandate. He was re-elected in the November 6 presidential poll. Obama, a Democratic Party candidate, won the election with 332 electoral votes, whereas he needed just 270 to get the mandate. His opponent Mitt Romney, candidate of the Republican Party, got 206 electoral votes, and conceded defeat.
Apart from the US, election was similarly held in Russia where Vladimir Putin was elected as president. It was the third time that Putini would be elected as president, after he had spent the past four years as the country’s prime minister. In April, it was the turn of Francois Hollande to be elected president in France. He defeated the then incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy. Hollande promised to turn the tide of a rightward and xenophobic lurch in European politics. He vowed to transform Europe’s handling of the economic crisis by fighting against German-led austerity measures. His emphatic victory was a boost to the leftist in the country that had gradually swung rightwards since the economic crisis broke out four years ago. In December, South Korea elected Park Geun-hye as their new president. She is the daughter of the former military president and first female president of the country.
In Senegal, President Abdoulaye Wade’s ambition to serve a third term was dashed in the February election when public outcry and protest failed to persuade him to drop the ambition. The election was won by Macky Sall. But in Sierra Leone, the incumbent President, Ernest Bai Koroma was lucky. He was re-elected in the November presidential election in which he defeated eight other candidates with 58.7 percent of the votes.
After the Arab spring which swept away some leaders in the Middle East the previous year, Egypt eventually elected a new president in June. Mohammed Morsi, a candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected to lead the country for the next five years. He replaced the ousted President Honsi Mubarak. And in Ghana, John Mahama, the incumbent president was also elected in December. He secured 50.7 percent of the votes cast while the opposition leader, Nana Akufo-Addo got 47.74 percent.
Despite the elections, the world also witnessed deaths and mourning. Ghana lost the president, John Atta Mills, who died of undisclosed illness in August. He was replaced by his deputy, John Mahama. Malawi also lost President Binguwa Mutharika in April. He was replaced by the vice President Joyce Banda. She is the first female president in the southern African country.
The Arab Spring which caused unrest in the Arab world the previous year is still ranging in Syria. The armed conflict between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition seeking to oust him has turned into civil war. Opposition forces comprising mainly defected soldiers and civilian volunteers, have now become an organised armed force. The opposition group has the backing of several foreign countries, some of which now give it arms. According to UNICEF report, more than 2,300 people have been killed in the conflict including more than 500 children since the beginning of the uprising.
North Korea in December successfully launched a long-range rocket called “Galaxy 3.” The same type of missile has been previously tested three times in 2006, 2009 and 2012. On each occasion, the rocket failed soon after launch. It is believed to have the capacity to travel a minimum of 3,400 miles. The move comes as a surprise to the international community, which has consistently called on North Korea to abandon its efforts in developing the rocket.
— Jan. 7, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT