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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Dateline Washington

An unofficial despatch from a democracy under siege amid a pandemic

By: Editorial | Updated: November 6, 2020 7:59:02 am
Year of lockdownThe Sars-CoV-2 outbreak has snuck up on everyday vocabulary in other ways too.

November 5: The world watched with mounting concern as Donald Trump, the embattled leader of the United States, a strife-torn former colony bordering Cuba, declared on Wednesday night that he had won the presidential elections even before all votes had been counted. The populist leader of the Republican party, believed to enjoy the support of white nationalist tribal clans, also demanded that further counting of votes be stopped, triggering fears that the authoritarian leader might not agree to a peaceful transfer of power. Meanwhile, his opponent, Joe Biden of the Democratic Party, a coalition backed by Black and other ethnic minorities, appeared to edge closer to victory.

The North American country had headed into the November elections in the backdrop of ethnic conflict that stemmed from ancient historical animosity between African-Americans and descendants of settlers from a small island in the North Atlantic ocean, as well as an unchecked coronavirus pandemic. There are reports of white armed militias attacking minorities and threatening violence. In a country known for its mysterious love for breakfast cereal, barbeque and dangerous firearms, the developments have put security agencies on the edge. Still, the election had presented the country with a historic chance to move beyond the political crises of the past and towards profound democratic change. Even though leaders from Africa, Asia and Europe have appealed for a free and fair counting, and asked foreign countries like Russia to desist from interference, there is growing anxiety that the nuclear-armed nation might be pushing the region towards a crisis.

This newspaper could not confirm reports that emissaries have reached out to African nations, with expertise in tackling sticky despots, for assistance in case of a coup. A popular author based in Karachi has fervently appealed to Americans that once they manage to elect a leader to save the American soul, they must not “send him out into the world to save us”.

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