Foreign Interference In Domestic Elections
Mahmud Tim Kargbo,
Except for levying war on or physical occupation of a country, interference with intent to influence whosoever gets to ascend into leadership, from foreign authorities, on the selection process(es) of any country’s leadership stands out as the worst disrespect and abuse of sovereignty any country can suffer from another.
By seeking to decide for a country who gets to rule over them, the interfering country not only seeks to place itself in the manner of colonial authority but worse still, it seeks that notorious position while creating an impression on the minds of the nationals of the country whose selection/election process has been interfered with that the externally imposed stooge is a product of local preferences and processes.
The practice of one State seeking to decide who rules over other states is certainly not a new vocation; it is a vile practice dating back centuries but which, with increased international interaction and collaboration amongst states, has become a common feature of international relations and the so-called ‘new world order’. Countries with focused and conscious leadership will ordinarily want other countries they share borders with to be governed by entities who are, at the very least, of like minds or, where possible, of a subservient disposition.
With increased globalisation, the borders of any country are now far beyond its mere physical borders, extending to countries far removed from its territory, but with which it has sizable relationships. As the meaning of ‘borders’ has been stretched under the concept of globalisation, so has the extent to which countries wish to interfere in the leadership (s)election processes have been stretched to, sometimes, virtually any country in the world.
Foreign interference in leadership (s)election processes can be subtle or brazen, intellectual or military, or an admixture of several styles. Often, a majority of the citizens of the territory whose leadership (s)election process is being interfered with by foreign authorities may be unaware of such interferences. For instance, that the erstwhile colonial overlords of African countries have interfered in the leadership (s)election processes of the now ‘independent’ African States has been one of the worst guarded secrets in International Affairs: while the British routinely interfere in their former territories (Anglophone African countries), the French play the same role in the Francophone African countries.
These interferences usually come as reports of so-called ‘international election monitoring and observer missions, which subtly issue real threats when results of polls do not tow the line of the colonial overlords and simply look the other way with such comments as ‘though there were pockets of irregularities, such irregularities do not impugn the integrity of the process’ if the ‘overlords’ preferred could emerge victorious despite palpable local wishes to the contrary. In other instances, military interventions and coups are instigated to scuttle a regime deemed non-compliant and ensure the emergence of stooges.
Notorious instances of foreign interference in the leadership (s)election process of countries including the United States and Belgian-instigated assassination of Patrice Lumumba of Congo, DRC, and imposing a stooge, Mobutu Sese Seko, in his stead in 1966. Congo, DRC, is yet to recover from the ensuing disaster unleashed by foreign interference as war and strives now to bedevil what is universally recognised as a country that ought to, on account of its resources, have been a leading and industrial light in the African continent. The scuttling of the electoral victory of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) during the 1991 Algerian elections and imposing a more compliant military junta by foreign authorities have served, to date, to deepen distrust of the democratic process among Islamists across Arabia.
The 2023 Presidential elections in Sierra Leone are yet another recent instance of foreign intervention in the leadership (s)election process of countries. Besides unwarrantedly sending key officials of its administration to ‘caution’ Sierra Leonean authorities over ‘interfering in Sierra Leonean elections’, the United Kingdom, European Union, Ireland, and the United States adopted policies and actions that showed it (and by extension the amorphous ‘international community’) would not accommodate the incumbent administration if it emerged victorious in the elections.
The icing on the ‘foreign interference’ cake during the Sierra Leone 2023 general elections started when the incumbent President (Julius Maada Bio) clearly stated, for the very first time in Sierra Leone, that his government is going to finance the country’s general elections.
Considering the foregoing, one appreciates and understands the angst and indignation expressed by former United States President Barack Obama and an array of US citizens and politicians from diverse political parties and their security establishments in response to what they claimed to be credible and highly probable evidence of foreign interference in the 2016 US Presidential elections.
The likelihood that the major global superpower would be ruled by a person who probably got into office not solely based on the desires of the American people but with support from elsewhere is most worrisome. The inherent and underlying insult and utter lack of respect for a state’s sovereignty embedded in foreign interference in the US presidential elections stank to the heavens! This is, however, exactly the same sentiment felt by discerning citizens of those countries whose leadership has been determined by foreign authorities for quite some time.
The fundamental concept of mutual respect for the sovereignty of states upon which inter-state relations are predicated is fatally assaulted when foreign authorities take it upon themselves to interfere in the leadership (s)election processes of other states. It is hoped that states and their imperialist organisations will desist from the urge to interfere in the leadership (s)election processes of other states, and when such allegations of interfering with other countries’ electoral processes are established, there ought to be an international mechanism to sanction the erring state.