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  • Author: Palwasha L. Kakar
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As the economic, security and political transitions take place in Afghanistan, it is essential to work with religious leaders who have credibility and moral authority among large segments of the Afghan public. Religious leaders are among Afghanistan's traditional "gatekeepers" for making local decisions, especially on questions of women's rights, and they can be effectively engaged. Despite the very negative reactions by religious leaders to women's rights at the national political level, some at the local level have shown continuing interest in women's rights when they are involved within an Islamic framework and have participated in protecting such rights. Effective engagement with religious leaders starts with respecting their opinions and involving them directly in processes of changing strongly held social norms on women's rights and other sensitive topics, such as tolerance and peacebuilding.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa
  • Author: Dorina Bekoe
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The political stalemate in Côte d'Ivoire following the November 28, 2010, presidential election continues. The majority of the international community recognizes Alassane Ouattara as the winner, but Laurent Gbagbo, the sitting president, insists he won. Financial and diplomatic sanctions imposed on the Gbagbo administration have thus far not forced Gbagbo from power. Maintaining international pressure and focus is critical to resolving the Ivorian crisis, but African states are increasingly divided on how to proceed. The power-sharing arrangement settled on by five African nations in recent elections sets a dangerous precedent. Losers with a strong militia may find it easier to use threats of violence or actual violence to retain a critical power role, thus subverting the intent of the election. African states will continue to experience violence during elections until the security sector is reformed, states refrain from holding elections while militias remain mobilized and armed, elections can be clearly and independently verified, institutions are politically independent, and policies exist to discourage the violent acquisition of power.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Post Colonialism, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Michael Bratton
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Zimbabwe's coalition government is increasingly dysfunctional, mainly due to a defeated incumbent ruler's unwillingness to surrender real executive authority to a popular opposition. The latest dispute over the president's unilateral exercise of appointment powers threatens to escalate into a constitutional crisis that seems likely to be resolved only through fresh elections. International actors can help to bring Zimbabwe's transition to a peaceful and democratic conclusion by guaranteeing power sharing, supervising elections, and maintaining targeted sanctions.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Fragile/Failed State, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Author: Dorina Bekoe
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The botched results from the December 27, 2007 presidential elections in Kenya sparked a wave of violence across the country that left more than 1,000 dead and 600,000 displaced. Incumbent president Mwai Kibaki, representing the ruling Party of National Unity (PNU), was declared the winner of the presidential polls over Raila Odinga, of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Supporters of the ODM, which had won 99 parliamentary seats against PNU's 43 (out of 210 elected seats), charged that the election had been rigged. The chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya has since stated that the PNU and the ODM-K (an allied party) forced him to call the election, even with irregularities in the tallying.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Politics
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa
  • Author: Kelly Campbell
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Sudan's elections, scheduled to take place by July 2009, are a major milestone of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Domestic and international institutions are already planning for the elections, although many legal and logistical issues must be resolved before they take place. The U.S. Institute of Peace convened a meeting of the Sudan Peace Forum on July 13, 2007 to discuss the major tasks remaining in the organization of elections. The following USIPeace Briefing summarizes the status of electoral preparations and identifies critical conditions to ensure their timely organization.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, Middle East