There was manifest relief in the international community yesterday following the victory of president-elect, Joe Biden and vice president-elect, Kamala Harris, with many calling their defeat of incumbent President Donald Trump a historic moment and one they hope will lead to strengthened relations with the United States going forward.
President Muhammadu Buhari joined stream of other world leaders to Biden and Harris on their election in the 2020 US presidential election, with many of them striking a jubilant tone on social media.
The Democratic candidate yesterday secured enough electoral votes to become the 46th president of the United States, defeating Trump and capturing the White House after a bitter campaign that exposed deep divides in that country.
Biden’s victory is historic as he will be 78 years old on the 20th of this month, making him the oldest president the US has ever produced.
Also, the significance of Harris’ victory as vice president-elect was not lost on the world stage. The election call yesterday made Harris the first woman to win the vice presidency, not to mention the first Black woman and the first South Asian woman to achieve this.
Upon his defeat, President Trump yesterday afternoon returned to the White House and a very different Washington DC after losing his reelection bid.
Trump’s motorcade returned from his golf club in Virginia via roads largely cleared of other cars and people Saturday afternoon.
But as he approached the White House, he was welcomed home with boos and raised middle fingers. Chants of “Loser, loser, loser” and profanities were also heard as his motorcade drove by.
Trump has so far refused to concede to President-elect Joe Biden and is promising legal challenges. He is the first president to lose reelection since George H.W. Bush in 1992.
Yesterday morning, Trump falsely tweeted that he won the election.
Meanwhile, President Buhari, in a statement by presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, noted that Biden was becoming president of the free world “at a time of uncertainty and fear in world affairs.”
The Nigerian leader said, “Your election is a significant reminder that democracy is the best form of government because it offers the people the opportunity to change their government by peaceful means.
“The most powerful group are not the politicians, but voters who can decide the fate of the politicians at the polling booth.
“The main fascination of democracy is the freedom of choice and the supremacy of the will of the people.
“Respect for the will of the people is the very reason why democracy remains the best form of government, despite its limitations from one polity to another, and from one society to another.
“I am thrilled by the fact that you are an experienced politician who had served as Congressman for 40 years and a Vice President for eight years. This is a remarkable track record that gives us hope that you will add value to the presidency and world affairs.”
President Buhari also noted that with Biden’s election, Nigeria was looking forward to greater cooperation with the United States, “especially at economic, diplomatic and political levels, including the war against terrorism.”
On international affairs, President Buhari urged Biden to deploy his “vast experience in tackling the negative consequences of nationalist politics on world affairs which have created divisions, conflicts and uncertainties.”
The Nigerian leader also called on Biden “to introduce greater engagement with Africa on the basis of reciprocal respects and shared interest.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also congratulated Biden and Harris, stressing the importance of the transatlantic relationship.
“Congratulations to Joe Biden on his election as President of the United States and to Kamala Harris on her historic achievement,” Johnson said on Twitter.
“The US is our most important ally and I look forward to working closely together on our shared priorities, from climate change to trade and security,” added.
Johnson and Trump’s administrations were thought to be close allies and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab took care to acknowledge White House incumbent.
“It was a close contest and [Donald Trump] fought hard,” he wrote on Twitter.
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who had a strong relationship with former president, Barack Obama and Biden, sent a congratulatory note to Biden and Harris.
“I look forward to working together with President Biden in the future. Our transatlantic friendship is indispensable if we are to face the greatest challenges of our time,” she wrote.
On his part, Canadian leader, Justin Trudeau, emphasized the close alliance between Canada and the US in his remarks.
Trudeau wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Our two countries are close friends, partners and allies. We share a relationship that’s unique on the world stage. I’m really looking forward to working together and building on that with you both.”
In Europe, the reactions were led by Irish politicians.
“I want to congratulate the new President-Elect of the USA [Joe Biden],” Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin tweeted after the result emerged.
Martin also referenced Biden’s Irish-American heritage, adding: “Joe Biden has been a true friend of this nation throughout his life and I look forward to working with him in the years ahead. I also look forward to welcoming him back home when the circumstances allow!”
Ireland’s health minister Simon Coveney said the country’s government looked “forward to working with a [Biden/Harris] presidency to sustain & strengthen Irish American relations, and so much more.”
In France, Paris Mayor, Anne Hidalgo, also reacted on Twitter, declaring, “Welcome back America!”
“While we are about to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement, this victory symbolizes our need to act together more than ever, in view of climate emergency,” she wrote.
The US left the landmark agreement earlier this week.
French President, Emmanuel Macron, also posted a lively tweet, writing: “The Americans have chosen their President.We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let’s work together!
The sense of Biden’s election strengthening the US global role was also echoed in other European statements.
Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the German Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was “very happy for all my American friends and for this great chance to revive our transatlantic friendship,” while Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany wanted “to invest in our cooperation for a new transatlantic beginning, a new deal.”
London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said Biden and Harris’ win meant it was “time to get back to building bridges, not walls” in a dig at President Trump’s policy of building a wall at the US-Mexico border.
Khan and Trump have clashed repeatedly over the years.
Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, offered Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, his “heartiest congratulations” on Twitter.
“Your success is path-breaking, and a matter of immense pride not just for your chittis, but also for all Indian-Americans,” Modi wrote.
“Chitti” is a Tamil word used to refer to the younger sisters of a person’s mother.
The Indian leader is a close Trump ally but said he was confident that “the vibrant India-US ties will get even stronger” with Harris’ support.
Belgian prime minister, Alexander De Croo and Indian opposition figure, Rahul Gandhi, were also among those to congratulate Harris on her groundbreaking achievement.
In Colombia, mayor of Bogota Claudia Lopez had a particularly exuberant reaction on Twitter.
Biden served in the US Senate from 1973 through 2009. A member of the Democratic Party from Delaware, was first elected to the Senate in November 1972, and sworn into office at age 30 on January 3, 1973; he was reelected six times.
He resigned on January 15, 2009, five days before becoming vice president of the United States during the presidency of Barack Obama.
The president-elect took an insurmountable lead in Pennsylvania yesterday morning, the fifth day of vote-counting after Election Day.
The victory in the battleground states gives him 273 electoral votes in states where a winner has been projected, surpassing the 270 needed to win.
But incumbent President Donald Trump immediately refused to acknowledge the victory, vowing to continue challenging the validity of legally cast ballots in several states.
The Trump campaign had launched a flurry of lawsuits in an attempt to delay the counting of votes, but this litigation has thus far been unsuccessful.
Trump refused to concede despite that his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, secured the required number of electoral college votes to win the presidential race.
In a defiant statement shortly after Biden was projected winner, Trump said the election was “far from over”, and criticised Biden for “rushing to falsely pose as the winner”.
He stated: “Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor. Legal votes decide who is president, not the news media.
“Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated.
“The American people are entitled to an honest election, that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots”.
The president reiterated his allegation that his team was prevented from vote counting centres in key battleground states.
He singled out Pennsylvania, whose 20 electoral college votes put Biden over the 270 required to clinch the seat.
“Only a party engaged in wrongdoing would unlawfully keep observers out of the count room – and then fight in court to block their access. I will not rest until the American People have the honest vote count that they deserve and that Democracy demands,” he said.