JPM congratulates Trump amidst puzzled world reaction to US poll

10Nov 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
JPM congratulates Trump amidst puzzled world reaction to US poll
  • Yesterday’s somewhat upset victory of the controversial Republican candidate has been received with mixed feelings in Africa and elsewhere across the world

PRESIDENT John Magufuli was yesterday among the first African leaders to congratulate Donald Trump for winning the United States presidential election as many people across the world reacted with surprise and puzzlement to the upset victory.

Donald Trump

Although Trump's early morning ascension to the White House appeared to send shock waves around the world, within hours of the formal announcement at least eight African presidents – including Magufuli and three other East African Community (EAC) leaders - had sent congratulatory messages to America's president-elect.

"Congratulation president-elect Donald Trump and the people of America. Tanzanians and I assure you of continued friendship and cooperation," Magufuli said in his felicitations via Twitter.

The other EAC heads of state who saluted Trump for his victory early on were Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta, and Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, though there was no early word from Rwanda’s Paul Kagame or South Sudan’s Salva Kiir.

But for global financial markets, the immediate reaction to Trump's election victory was predictably brutal, and US allies convened emergency meetings of their financial and security agencies to assess the impact both for themselves and in a wider context.

Asian stock markets fell, with Tokyo down almost 6 per cent. The Dow futures markets slid almost 800 points, while the Mexican peso fell to a record low against the US dollar.

South Korea called a meeting of its National Security Council as Japan's top financial officials huddled amid a 1,000-point plunge in the Nikkei stock market. Markets in the UK and France also dropped.

US futures also plummeted, as international observers grappled for analogies and images to convey their discomfort, dismay and disgust. Many referred to the shock of watching Britain vote to leave the European Union in a June referendum - the so-called "Brexit."

In Japan, state broadcaster NHK said that "if Trump becomes president, Japan along with other countries, are very unsure of what will happen to the economy."

However, Europe's far-right party leaders cheered Trump's win, including Nigel Farage - the outgoing leader of the UK Independence Party - and France's Marine Le Pen, who sent Trump a congratulatory tweet early Wednesday, adding a pat on the back for the "free" American people.

Le Pen's father and founder of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, took to Twitter to say "long live President Trump!" and claim Trump as part of a worldwide populist wave.

"The American people want Donald Trump to be the people's president. Today the United States, tomorrow France. Bravo!" Le Pen wrote.

Far-right leaders in Holland, Belgium, Russia, the Czech Republic, Italy and Serbia, among other places, have also voiced support for Trump. The hard-right Greek party, Golden Dawn, went so far as to make a pro-Trump video starring neo-Nazis.

In Tanzania, there were mixed reactions with some commentators challenging African countries to uphold democracy in elections and expressing hope that the new US president will help to reshape and correct the continent’s political leadership.

The chairman of the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere research centre in Pan-African Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam, Prof Issa Shivji, said: “It doesn’t matter who takes over the White House…the Unites States’ domestic and foreign policies will remain the same”.

According to Prof Shivji, whether the US president comes from the Democratic or Republican Parties won’t make a difference. No one can be sure of what the future has in store following Trump’s victory, since every national leader has to rule in accordance with his or her country’s policies, the veteran law guru asserted.

Prof Abdalla Safari, vice chairman of the opposition CHADEMA party, described the US election as “a clear definition of democracy that has to be emulated by other African nations”.

He noted that the American people had decided to vote for Trump despite the fact that he had no political experience. As such, the new US leader could likely help shape African leaders, especially those with dictatorial tendencies, Prof Safari said.

A lecturer at the Tanzania Centre for Foreign Relations, Israel Sosthenes, said Trump was always favoured to win the election due to the historic and cultural system of power exchange between America’s two main political parties.

Sosthenes argued that the American people voted for Trump because they wanted a leader who will maintain the country’s status and help them benefit from the resources by reducing assistance to foreigners.

“Let’s give him time…Africans countries might have a better relationship with the US if he does not change that country’s diplomatic policies,” Sosthenes said.

Former Kigoma South member of parliament David Kafulila from the opposition NCCR-Mageuzi party said the US people had shown they honoured democracy despite many of them clearly being puzzled by the election outcome.

According to Kafulila, the US electoral system is very transparent and the leaders always respect the decisions of the people. For countries like Tanzania to have such a similarly strong election system, there must be a new constitution, he asserted.

“I did not expect him (Trump) to win…he was not supported by many top Republican Party officials and leaders across the globe. But that’s democracy,” said Kafulila.