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Zimbabweans Embrace Obama Victory, Hope For Closer Ties

From Cape to Cairo, Africans in general and Zimbabweans in particular, joined hands in celebrating the victory of President Barack Obama in the U.S. election.

President Obama captured a majority of votes nationally, almost 2.7 million more than Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

However, Americans do not vote for president directly. Instead, their votes assign electors in the electoral college, which determines the winner. Out of 538 total electoral college votes, the winner needs 270 or more.

President Obama gained 303 electoral votes while Governor Romney won only 206 electoral votes. Early Wednesday morning after it was clear that he would not have the votes to pull ahead of the president, Governor Romney conceded defeat.

In his victory speech later, Mr. Obama pledged to work with republicans to ensure America can tackle a number of major problems facing the country.

In congressional races, Republicans held onto their majority in the House of Representatives and Democrats maintained control of the Senate, making gains in Indiana and other states.

In the Massachusetts senate race, Democrat Elizabeth Warren defeated Republican incumbent Scott Brown and in Virginia, Democrat incumbent Tim Kaine beat Republican George Allen.

In Maine, former governor Angus King, an independent, won the senate seat vacated by moderate Republican Olympia Snowe, who is retiring.

Voters around the country also decided more than 170 ballot measures, approving gay marriage in Maine and Maryland and endorsing the recreational use marijuana in Colorado and Washington, putting those states at odds with federal drug law. In close races around the country, the counting of ballots continues.

What does a second term for Mr. Obama mean for Africa?

President Obama’s father was a Kenyan, and many Africans see him as a “son of the soil.” But some political analysts say in his second term President Obama must do more for the troubled continent.

In his first term Mr. Obama visited Africa only twice when he went to Ghana and Egypt.

The main focus of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy was the Middle East. China is seen as investing more in Africa than America.

China's increasing influence throughout Africa led the Obama administration to dispatch Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on a tour of six African nations earlier this year, which took her to South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Senegal, Malawi and South Africa.

Africans living illegally in America also want Mr. Obama to address the immigration question, hoping it will allow them to work legally in the U.S.

It’s difficult to say how much attention Mr. Obama will pay to African issues in his next four years as president, but analysts agree the U.S. must push Kenya and Zimbabwe to avoid a repeat of their violent elections in 2007 and 2008, respectively, as incumbents in both countries refused to concede defeat after losing the polls.

Both nations now have shaky national unity governments. Even without new initiatives in Africa from Mr. Obama, Zimbabwean Standard newspaper editor Nevanji Madanhire in Chicago covering the U.S election said Harare has a lot to learn from America.

In Zimbabwe, many joined Americans on Wednesday in celebrating President Obama’s re-election, calling the election process in the United States a true reflection of a working democracy.

Meanwhile, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has congratulated the Americans "for displaying such immense degree of maturity in the run up, during and after the election."

"It is inspiring to all of us in the fight for democracy to note that it is possible for a people to openly and freely demonstrate their divergent viewpoints without acrimony but respect and tolerance of each other’s preferences," the MDC said in a statement.

The world and Zimbabwe in particular should emulate the level of political maturity as displayed by the Americans during their election period, the party said.

It said: "The humility shown by Romney in conceding defeat is humbling. As we look forward to our elections next year we implore the people of Zimbabwe to rise above petty political differences and respect one another as we exercise our democratic right to chose who will represent us in the next government in a free and peaceful environment."

The prime minister's partry further said the people of Zimbabwe are ready for a new election under better conditions, where aspiring candidates can sit at the same table and lay out one’s policies on key issues affecting the nation.

"Zimbabweans want peace, security and a respect of their dignity when elections come, " said the MDC.