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Observing the U.S. Election: Asmara, Eritrea



Election Events: U.S. Embassy in Asmara, Eritrea

As submitted by embassy staff

U.S. Presidential Elections always attract worldwide attention, but in countries where there are no elections, the pheromone of open debate and contested positions of power creates unusual fascination. Add a President whose father is East African, a regime currently without effective opposition, and a population with family members living in the United States, and the result, in Eritrea, is a craving for details about U.S. elections and great respect for the process. Offered the opportunity to vote in a straw poll, our local contacts and staff embraced this election as their own; turnout was very high. Because the streets of Asmara are patrolled at night by armed citizen patrols, we deemed the situation too dangerous to hold a tradition election watch through the early morning hours. Instead, we decided to hold a breakfast and invite Americans, members of the diplomatic community and members of Eritrean civil society and government to watch the final determination, as well as the concession and acceptance speeches. Chargé d’Affaires Sue Bremner quoted from works by contemporary poets Mark Jarman, Bob Kaufman, and J.D. McClatchy, as well as by Emily Dickinson, in her welcome remarks. She also distributed copies of two of President Roosevelt’s inaugural addresses. A grand time was had by all. And, by the way, Barack Obama won the straw poll.

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