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Two critical votes took place over the weekend that may have escaped your attention but which could represent watershed political moments for the countries in which they took place.

A lingering civil war in Cameroon? Africa’s oldest leader, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya, is set to lock up his seventh term in office. Biya’s iron grip on power has been tested by an ongoing crisis between the country’s sizable English-speaking minority and its French-speaking majority. Cameroon’s northwestern Anglophone regions produce 60 percent of the country’s GDP, and its English-speaking citizens resent the linguistic and political domination of a French-dominated central government.

Tensions escalated sharply last year following calls by Anglophone separatists for independence and a government-led crackdown in response which killed 40 killed people and forced thousands to flee into neighboring Nigeria. On Sunday, turnout in the English-speaking regions was low, amid widespread disenchantment and fear of violence. While it will take two weeks for the results to come in, Biya is widely expected to extend his rule, only increasing the prospect for further violence.

The bottom line: One purpose of elections is to serve as a safety-valve to air the tensions of those who are angry or feel underrepresented. By not addressing a large segment of the population’s grievances, Cameroon’s fissures will only grow. As one observer noted, “all the ingredients for a potential civil war are already assembled.”

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On Wednesday, Joe Biden will become president because eighty-one million Americans, the highest tally in US history, voted to change course after four years of Donald Trump's leadership. Like all presidents, Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, take office with grand ambitions and high expectations, but rarely has a new administration taken power amid so much domestic upheaval and global uncertainty. And while Biden has pledged repeatedly to restore American "unity" across party lines — at a time of immense suffering, real achievements will matter a lot more than winged words.

Biden has a lot on his agenda, but within his first 100 days as president there are three key issues that we'll be watching closely for clues to how effectively he's able to advance their plans.

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We're only a few weeks into 2021 and that 'fresh new start' that so many had been hoping for at the end of 2020 has not exactly materialized. But what gives World Bank President David Malpass hope for the coming year? "The promise of humanity and of technology, people working together with communication, where they can share ideas. It allows an incredible advance for living standards." His wide-ranging conversation with Ian Bremmer was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

It wasn't pretty, but we made it to Inauguration Day. These last four years have taught the US a lot about itself — so what have we learned?

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and it is the last full day of the Trump administration. Extraordinary four years, unprecedented in so many ways. I guess the most important feature for me is how much more divided the United States is, the world is, as coming out of the Trump administration than it was coming in. Not new. We were in a GZERO world, as I called it well before Trump was elected president. The social contract was seen as fundamentally problematic. Many Americans believed their system was rigged, didn't want to play the kind of international leadership role that the United States had heretofore, but all of those things accelerated under Trump.

So perhaps the most important question to be answered is, once Trump is gone, how much of that persists? It is certainly true that a President Biden is much more oriented towards trying to bring the United States back into existing multilateral architecture, whether that be the Paris Climate Accord, or more normalized immigration discussions with the Mexicans, the World Health Organization, the Iranian Nuclear Deal, some of which will be easy to do, like Paris, some of which will be very challenging, like Iran. But nonetheless, all sounds like business as usual.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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