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What’s being drowned out by the US election

Nine situations to keep an eye on as America’s presidential election hogs the international media spotlight.

People stand on a boat in a rally in the run-up to elections in Myanmar.
A boat rally in the run-up to elections in Myanmar. (Shwe Paw Mya Tin/REUTERS)

The news tsunami of the nail-biting American election is, unsurprisingly, drowning out coverage of other crises. But the rest of the world continues to have plenty to worry about. 

As US election results started to flow in overnight, online media database GDELT – which crawls a huge range of news websites – recorded a peak of more than 4,000 articles mentioning “Trump” or “Biden” over a 15-minute period.

The surge – up from around 800-900 articles every 15 minutes in the previous 24 hours – dwarfed coverage of everything else, including news from humanitarian emergencies and crisis hotspots around the globe.

One example: News broke from Ethiopia overnight signalling the start of a possible civil war in the country of over 100 million. By 1430 GMT, the number of articles tracked by GDELT worldwide mentioning Ethiopia was peaking at 23 articles. 

As news of the tight US race for the White House continues to dominate, here are some other situations we’ll continue to watch:

Conflicts

  • Following months of rising tensions, the Ethiopian government has announced a military response and a state of emergency after an alleged attack on a federal military outpost in the northern province of Tigray. The move marks a major escalation and comes days after a massacre of dozens of civilians in the Oromia region, and outbreaks of violence – some along ethnic lines – elsewhere in the country.
  • Fresh talks began in Geneva on 30 October to try to end more than a month of fighting that has claimed hundreds, probably thousands, of lives in Nagorno-Karabakh. Both sides have been blamed for dozens of civilian deaths. Azerbaijan this week accused Armenia of the deadliest civilian incident yet – a missile strike that killed more than 20 people. Among the recent fatalities was an Azerbaijani Red Crescent Society volunteer. Two others were wounded.

Disasters

Elections

  • Côte d'Ivoire held presidential elections last week amid an opposition boycott and sporadic outbreaks of violence around the country. Thousands of people fled to neighbouring countries ahead of the vote, which saw Alassane Ouattara win a controversial third term in a landslide. Politicians who boycotted the polls vowed on Monday to set up a parallel administration, which the government called an “act of sedition”.
  • National elections in Myanmar are set for Sunday, 8 November. But voting cancellations across parts of the country may instead fuel more tensions in conflict-hit areas home to minority communities – particularly Rakhine State. Conflict between the military and the Arakan Army has displaced 227,000 people in the last two years. And among the state’s Arakanese ethnic minority, there’s growing trust in the insurgent group – rather than in elections or the government – after years of frustrations.
  • Several opposition candidates in Tanzania’s elections are under arrest. They had called for protests, claiming widespread fraud in the polls on 28 October in which president John Magufuli won a second term.
  • Burkina Faso is set to hold presidential and parliamentary elections later this month, but the presence of extremist groups has disrupted voter registration in some parts of the country and could prevent people from casting ballots on the day.
  • In Uganda, meanwhile, opposition MP Bobi Wine was arrested and allegedly beaten after he submitted papers to register as a candidate in next year’s presidential elections.

 

 

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