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  • Author: Princeton N. Lyman, Jon Temin, Susan Stigant
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Ongoing negotiations to end the South Sudan crisis cannot simply return the country to the previous status quo. For lasting peace, the negotiating parties and mediators will need to reach beyond national political elites and those bearing arms and invite active involvement of the international community. South Sudan needs to build national cohesion and address fundamental issues of governance, democracy, and human rights. Restarting the stalled constitution-making process presents an opportunity to achieve these objectives. Following negotiations, a broad-based, inclusive, interim government that includes a degree of joint South Sudanese-international community administration and management should govern and ensure preparations for new elections.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Poverty, Power Politics, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • 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: Judith Vorrath
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Despite recent elections in Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda and upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Great Lakes region shows worrying trends toward electoral authoritarianism and political fragmentation, with new divisions that intensify the potential for confrontation. A shrinking political space and a tight grip on the state by the ruling elites and their parties are signs of authoritarianism in the region—a cause of concern since armed conflict in all four countries has been strongly linked to a history of exclusion under autocratic regimes. New divisions beyond previous alignments in armed conflicts also have occurred and already led to serious confrontations, flight, and at times violence. An increasing political fragmentation has become visible, and splits embroil intraparty conflicts in the political landscape instead of resolving them. The two trends—electoral authoritarianism and political fragmentation—are mutually reinforcing within and across the countries of the region and risk jeopardizing economic and social progress in Uganda and Rwanda as well as an emerging vibrant civil society in Burundi and the DRC. In light of the history of conflict and autocratic regimes in the region, these trends have to be a serious concern for local and international actors. The preference for stable leadership, economic performance, and security considerations regardless of political conduct has been a fatal miscalculation before in the Great Lakes region. Rather, acting early and using pressure constructively, the international community should do what it can to support a more open and less fragmented political sphere in the Great Lakes countries.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Political Economy, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, Burundi
  • Author: Dorina Bekoe
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Nigeria's 2011 general election received high praise for being well-managed. But post-election violence claimed 800 lives over three days in northern Nigeria and displaced 65,000 people, making the elections the most violent in Nigeria's history.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Julie Flint
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The response to the renewed war in Sudan's Nuba Mountains has been driven largely by a human rights and humanitarian crisis. The crisis will continue indefinitely without a political agreement that acknowledges the Nuba rebellion is self-sustaining and reflects a wider malaise within the new Republic of Sudan. With Sudan facing financial collapse, economic normalization must be part of negotiations with Khartoum to end the war in the Nuba Mountains and promote democratization throughout Sudan.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development, Human Rights, War, Insurgency, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Author: Dorina Bekoe
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Studies indicate that violence in Africa's elections affects between 19 and 25 percent of elections. In many countries where electoral violence is a risk, it tends to recur and may consequently lead to an unfavorable view of democratization. The regularity with which electoral violence occurs suggests that underlying grievances or structural characteristics may be tied to the elections and fuel the violence. Electoral violence, especially recurrent, seems indicative of more widespread systemic grievances and tensions. Tensions over land rights, employment and ethnic marginalization are three dominant characteristics of recurring electoral violence. These areas intersect and are frequently manipulated by politicians. Some recent actions taken by the government and civil society may offer insights into reversing the trends of recurring violence. These actions warrant further analysis in order to improve strategies to reduce violence.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization
  • 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: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On May 20, 2010, USIP and the International Peace Institute brought together some of Chad's national, regional and international stakeholders to discuss Chad's democratization, the regional security dynamics and the management of the oil sector.Electoral reform, as called for in Chad's 2007 "August 13 Political Agreement," has been poorly implemented, endangering the credibility of the upcoming February legislative elections. Improvements in regional security prompted the Chadian government to request the departure of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), which was charged with securing and providing humanitarian relief along the Chad-Central African Republic border. However, many question if Chadian forces can fill the security gap. Oil exports have significantly increased Chad's budget, with most of these gains being invested in the military. The improved regional security provides an opportunity to invest in sectors such as education, health care, and development, which have been neglected.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Oil
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Dorina A. Bekoe, Andrea Bartoli
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The announcement that 429,000 fraudulent or possibly foreign names were on the voters registry halted the preparations for already delayed 2009 presidential election and revived the divisive discussion of citizenship and identity in Côte d'Ivoire (Ivoirité) The stalled electoral process highlighted unresolved issues such as the failed demobilization and disarmament processes and the marginalization of civil society from the implementation of the 2007 Ouagadougou Peace Agreement. In April 2010, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Community of Sant'Egidio and George Mason University's Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution brought key leaders of Ivorian civil society and the religious community to Washington, D.C. to develop an approach for resolving the present political impasse and to actively participate in the peace process. The April meeting resulted in the Washington Appeal, which urges Ivoirians to tolerate ethnic and political diversity, reduce the tensions around elections, identify longstanding grievances, and expand the role of civil society in the peace process.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Corruption, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Largely unnoticed outside the region, the Sudanese states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile have begun the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)–mandated process of popular consultation, which permits Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile to either adopt the CPA as the final settlement between the two states and the Government of Sudan (GoS) or renegotiate the CPA to remedy any shortcomings and reach a final settlement. The first phase of the popular consultation process involves civic education campaigns to inform the two states' populations of the contents of the CPA and the issues at stake. The second phase is the consultations themselves, which are to be conducted by a commission in each state. The results of the consultations will be reported to the state assemblies and inform the positions taken by the states during negotiations with the central government. A successful popular consultation could begin to transform Sudanese politics by realigning political interests from political parties to the states and could provide a test case for new governance structures between the center and the states. A neglected or mismanaged process could destabilize not just Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, but all of Sudan. The international community can contribute to a successful process through financial assistance, monitoring and reporting, promoting reconciliation within the population, and engaging directly with Khartoum and Juba to smooth negotiations. It might also anticipate possible procedural challenges and prepare to engage in creative and quiet diplomacy should the need arise.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Author: Ebere Onwudiwe, Chloe Berwind-Dart
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Nigeria's 2011 polls will mark the fourth multiparty election in Nigeria and, if a power transfer occurs, only the second handover of civilian administrations since the country's return to democracy in 1999. Past election cycles have featured political assassinations, voter intimidation, intra-and interparty clashes, and communal unrest. Party primary season, the days immediately surrounding elections, and the announcement of results have been among the most violent periods in previous cycles. Although the most recent elections in 2007 derived some benefit from local conflict management capacity, they were roundly criticized for being neither free nor fair. The 2011 elections could mark a turning point in the consolidation of Nigeria's democracy, but they could also provoke worsening ethnosectarian clashes and contribute to the continuing scourge of zero-sum politics. President Umaru Yar'Adua, who died in May 2010, kept his 2007 inauguration promise to create an Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) but failed to adopt key recommendations that the committee made. His successor, President Goodluck Jonathan, appointed a widely respected professor, Attahiru Jega, to head the Independent National Electoral Commission, inspiring hope that electoral processes will improve in 2011. The issue of “zoning,” the political elite's power-sharing agreement, has taken center stage in the current election cycle and will drive significant conflict if the debate around it devolves into outright hostilities. his unusual election cycle, local and international organizations and Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) must redouble their efforts both to prevent and resolve conflicts and to promote conflict sensitivity. The near term requires an increasingly important role for the judiciary in combating electoral fraud, and the longer term requires the creation of the ERC–recommended Electoral Offenses Commission, which would specialize in the investigation and prosecution of crimes. Local agencies and respected community leaders must remain proactive and creative in violence-prevention programming, irrespective of international funding. Established local organizations with preexisting networks are best situated to perform early-warning and conflict management functions. High voter turnout and citizen monitoring are vital for ensuring that the 2011 elections in Nigeria are credible and civil.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Kelly Campbell, Linda Bishai, Jacki Wilson
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Sudan's upcoming elections in 2009 raise hopes and concerns for the country's future. According to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in 2005 between the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), Sudan is scheduled to hold national and state level elections in 2009. (Elections are to take place for president of the Government of National Unity, president of the Government of Southern Sudan, members of the National Assembly and the South Sudan Legislative Assembly, and governors and state legislatures in all of Sudan's 25 states) However, delays in each phase of electoral preparation—including the passage of the electoral law, the appointment of the nine National Election Commission members responsible for overseeing elections, and the census—have raised doubts about whether the elections will be held within the timeframe outlined in the CPA.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil Society, Democratization, Government, Peace Studies, War
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, South Sudan
  • Author: Jon Temin
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Over the past few months, much of the international attention devoted to Sudan has focused on “CPA implementation.” Within that focus on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), most attention is paid to the status of Abyei, if and when nationwide elections will happen, border demarcation and, above all else, the 2011 referendum on the status of southern Sudan. But there are other aspects of the north-south dynamic deserving of discussion and strategic thinking that don't receive their due. This Peace Brief describes six of those issues and questions that, while they get some attention, could use a little more as decisive events in Sudan's political history approach.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Author: Dorina Bekoe
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Nigeria has had a grim history of electoral violence since its return to democratic rule in 1999, and with its next elections eight weeks away, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), in partnership with the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding - Nigeria (WANEP-Nigeria), held a workshop on the prevention of electoral violence. The workshop entitled, "Nigeria 2007: Building Blocks for a Peaceful Transition," took place in Abuja, Nigeria, from February 13 to February 15, 2007. Thirty-one participants from civil society organizations representing all six of Nigeria's geo-political zones attended the workshop.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Nigeria
  • Author: Lahra Smith
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Assistant professor at Georgetown University, where she teaches courses on African politics, civil society and democracy in Africa, and peace and conflict in East Africa. The pardon and release of thirty-eight political detainees, mostly from the leadership of the main opposition party, may give impetus to political negotiations in Ethiopia after more than two years' crisis and stalemate. Contentious and previously unresolved national issues, such as land and economic development; the institutional and constitutional structure of the Ethiopian state; and the best way to ensure equality of ethnic and religious communities, were brought to the fore during the past election cycle. However, after the election, much- needed national dialogue on these matters ended. It must be reinvigorated now that the political opposition's leaders have been freed. Citizen discontent has grown with the caretaker administration in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa and repressive local administrations. Elections for city and local government must be held. Further delays will undermine any democratic progress. The current Parliament includes members of several opposition political parties, though not the leaders who were imprisoned. Both the ruling party and the main opposition parties should make as many visible and meaningful concessions as possible to their political opponents. Ethiopia's military intervention in Somalia in December 2006, its ongoing military presence in that conflict, and its unchanged, tense border stalemate with Eritrea have contributed to growing violence in the Horn of Africa and stymied domestic democratization.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, War
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia, Somalia, East Africa
  • Author: Jibrin Ibrahim
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In Nigeria 2007 will mark the first time a third consecutive presidential election will take place and the first time one elected leader will succeed another. Many observers fear, however, that the upcoming elections, like so many previous ones, will be marred by electoral fraud and rigging. Because of the country 's history of electoral fraud, elections often have been associated with political tension, crisis, and even violence. The road map for the 2007 elections appears to be in jeopardy. The National Assembly has not reviewed the constitution to give real autonomy to the electoral commission. In addition, preparations such as registration of voters and issuance of voter identity cards still have not been completed. The major political parties are intensifying internal wrangling and elimination of rivals. The president and vice president are exchanging acrimonious allegations of corruption, further raising political tension in the country. Interethnic and regional tensions and conflicts also are increasing. Southern politicians are exerting pressure to retain power, while northern politicians insist that a long-standing pact says power should revert to their region. Over the past fifteen years, political tension has risen significantly in the petroleum-rich Niger Delta. Insurgency has spread and ethnic and youth militias have emerged. The state has lost the capacity to exercise authority effectively. The international community has played a major role in Nigerian elections since 1999, especially in monitoring activities. It is important that this help include effective monitoring of the whole election process. While the integrity of the elections can be protected effectively only by a vigilant citizenry, the international community has an important supporting role. In May 2006 the National Assembly threw out constitutional reform proposals designed to allow President Olusegun Obasanjo a third term in office. As soon as he began his second term in 2003, it was evident that plans were afoot to prolong his rule beyond the constitutionally determined tenure. The fact that he was stopped in his tracks gives hope that Nigerians will continue to struggle for democracy. A new consciousness is rising in the country that people must organize to defend their franchise. If a plan for a programmed failure of the 2007 elections does exist, chances are that Nigerians will combat it and try to salvage the elections. Observers are waiting to see if they can succeed.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Robert Pringle
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since the 1991 uprising, which saw the ouster of the country's long-standing military dictator and ushered in a democratically elected government, Mali has achieved a record of democratization that is among the best in Africa. This process has been driven by multiple factors. External observers often point to broader Africa-wide change and a remarkable constellation of “founding fathers” who demonstrated vision and self-sacrifice following the change of government. But if you ask Malians why their country has successfully democratized, most of them will respond by stressing Mali's heritage of tolerance and decentralized government, dating back more than a millennium to the Ghana Empire and its two successor states. For Malians, democratization combined with decentralization is a homecoming rather than a venture into uncharted waters. But they recognize that the country's democratization process continues to be a difficult one, inevitably laced with controversy. Although satisfaction levels remain generally high, there is a near-universal desire for more rapid progress toward improved quality of life. This unease suggests the possibility that despite their legendary patience, Malians may eventually lose hope and faith in democracy unless economic growth accelerates.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ghana