Yes, it's the night before the day before the elections. A few hours ago the president announced that not only would Friday be a national holiday, election day, but Thursday as well. The reason: The government didn't give people enough time to pick up their voter ID cards, so they need the time to do it on Thursday before they can vote on Friday. Rumor has it the ID cards were ready a while ago, but when people started showing up to get them, they were just in piles rather than organized alphabetically or some other logical way. So it took hours for each person to pick up his or her card, having to sort through the piles. After a short time, it was decided they would shut down the operation, organize the cards, and try distributing them again. The day before the election.
Friday is the first of five elections this summer, and the first national elections since 2005 (which were the first elections after about 10 years of civil war). It's an exciting time to be here, watching. There are so many parties (nearly 50 for some of the local campaigns), and party flags and party symbols and party handshakes. I like driving around trying to identify the flags. The eagle holding a machete. Two different chicken flags (two splinters of what used to be one party). A flag with a rooster. And is that one a French flag with the party acronym magic-markered onto it?
Friday's elections are communal, then the presidential election is in June, and parliament and other groups will have their elections through September. And each election day is a holiday. I almost wish I were sticking around longer, so I could have more holidays. That, and I love politics so I'm curious to see how this all works out.
A quick look at the headlines this election eve eve:
President hopes God, development win him votes
He has built a lot of schools and hospitals, but the doctors and teachers are constantly on strike because they don't get paid. He's going to need God's help.
Set to vote
HRW researcher expelled
Whoops. Maybe not the best way for the ruling party to prove they are in favor of free and open elections. She's the only Human Rights Watch representative in the country.
Since I won't be at work over the next few days, due to the holidays and the weekend, I'll have plenty of time to blog and check in with election results. Everyone's as excited as I am, aren't they?