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  • Author: Mubin Adewumi Bakare
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Conflict Trends
  • Institution: The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)
  • Abstract: Côte d’Ivoire’s presidential election on 31 October 2020 marked the fifth presidential election held in the country since the death of the “pere foundateur de la nation” (father of the nation), Félix Houphouët-Boigny, in 1993. The election was held in a tense political and volatile security atmosphere, driven by opposition protests against President Alassane Ouattara’s third-term candidacy, which was a breach of the 2016 constitution. The political contest among the political stakeholders also bordered on matters around the electoral code, the voter register, implementation of the constitutional reforms and the composition of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), which opposition parties denounced as non-inclusive, unbalanced and partisan.[1] The inability of the ruling party and the opposition parties – which formed a common political front, led by Henri Konan Bédié – to reach common ground in addressing these issues led to a series of protests, which escalated into violence across the country. On the eve of the election, Bédiéand Pascal Affi N’Guessan, the two major opposition candidates, reneged their participation in the election and called on their supporters to block the election. The election result declared by the IEC proclaimed Ouattara as the winner, having amassed 94.27% of the votes cast. N’Guessan got 0.99%, Bédié was credited with 1.66% and Kouadio Konan Bertin obtained 1.99%.[2] These results, which were ratified by the Constitutional Council on 9 November 2020, as stipulated in the constitution, endorsed President Ouattara as the winner. However, N’Guessan, on behalf of the opposition parties, announced his non-recognition of Ouattara’s victory and thereby installed a National Transitional Council, with Bédié as the president.Protests by opposition parties and their supporters led to violence, which resulted in about 85 deaths recorded in localities including Yopougon, Bonoua, Mbatto, Bongouanou, Daoukro and others.
  • Topic: Elections, Election watch, Domestic Policy, Opposition
  • Political Geography: Africa, Côte d'Ivoire
  • Author: Dudziro Nhengu, Stanley Murairwa
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Conflict Trends
  • Institution: The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)
  • Abstract: Electoral disputes have long played a role in directing political conflicts towards the attainment of ephemeral peace in both Zimbabwe and Lesotho – two countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement (GPA) helped to end conflict in the country, further establishing a government of national unity (GNU) with institutional mechanisms and conditions that enabled transition to a more peaceful context. A decade later, Zimbabwe is still at a crossroads, facing almost the same political and economic hardships that it did in 2008, when the GPA was signed. The current political stand-off between the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is a manifestation of the deep-seated political problems in the country, and proof that the GNU did not enable lasting solutions to Zimbabwe’s politico-economic crisis.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Governance, Elections, Leadership
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho
  • Author: Darlington Tshuma, Gilbert Tinashe Zvaita
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Conflict Trends
  • Institution: The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)
  • Abstract: On 8 May 2019, South Africans went to the polls to elect a government of their choice. This election was South Africa’s sixth since the country held its first democratic election in 1994. Twenty-five years later, questions are being asked about whether the ruling party has delivered on its electoral promises since its victory in the April 1994 election. These and other questions have arisen due to the country’s socio-economic challenges such as increasing youth unemployment, massive public-private sector corruption and deep-seated inequality. These challenges have resulted in renewed calls for political alternatives. This search for political alternatives is evidenced by a significant increase in the number of new political parties that have formed since 1994 – over 40 political parties contested the May 2019 election in various parts of the country. In spite of the growth in the number of political parties, the question that has not generated sufficient debate in either political and policy circles is the role of the youth in South Africa’s democracy, and in electoral processes in particular. This article reports on the findings of a socio-anthropological research study on society, politics and electoral processes in South Africa, conducted as part of an international research project titled Re-examining Elections after African Experiences.1 The article provides an analysis on what the electoral process and voting specifically means to South African youth.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Elections, Democracy, Anthropology
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Africa
  • Author: Kabale Ignatius Mukunto
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Conflict Trends
  • Institution: The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)
  • Abstract: While senior leaders on both sides of Zambia’s political divide may communicate civilly when faced with differences, the majority of their rank and file members seldom do so. For the latter, the handling of political conflicts is synonymous with violence. The socialisation of the current cohort of political party stalwarts is devoid of peace-oriented mechanisms of dealing with political dissent. Electoral politics have continued to be characterised by skirmishes, discontent and violence, 54 years after the country’s political independence. Political players are no strangers to polarisation, and differences in ideologies or ascension to leadership positions have culminated in splinter parties. What is worrisome is the propensity for violent engagements when managing political disagreements, especially at the lower strata of the Zambian polity. There is very little effort invested in cultivating an environment that facilitates collegial contact among political party affiliates. Such an environment of contact may also promote and support mutual understanding, tolerance and a sense of coexistence. Contact and learning about other parties (outgroups) reduce preconceptions and negative assumptions that drive hostilities, antagonisms and violence within the polity. Elite interparty interactions, even if on a slighter scale, also ought to permeate all political party structures horizontally. This article therefore appraises intergroup contact in light of Zambia’s electoral politics and the emergent violence.
  • Topic: Elections, Ethnicity, Peace, Political Culture
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zambia
  • Author: Naila Salihu
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Conflict Trends
  • Institution: The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)
  • Abstract: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been home to the one of the oldest peacekeeping missions in the world – the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) – due to many periods of instability. Since independence in 1960, the country has been embroiled in conflict. Joseph Kabila succeeded his late father, Laurent Kabila, as president, following the latter’s assassination in 2001. He ruled the country for almost 17 years, and controversially won two elections, in 2006 and 2011. His tenure expired in November 2016, necessitating presidential and legislative elections. However, in September 2016, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) announced the postponement of elections, citing reasons of violence in parts of the country, as well as logistical and financial constraints. CENI also petitioned the Constitutional Court and obtained authorisation to postpone elections to compile a fresh voter register. These developments were met with widespread anger and protests over what some saw as Kabila’s refusal to relinquish power at the end of his second constitutionally mandated term. In the face of a legitimacy crisis and mounting domestic and external pressures from western powers, the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), combined presidential, legislative and provincial elections were held on 30 December 2018. The initial announcement to the elections was met with some reservations. Nonetheless, the elections took place. Contrary to widely held views of machinations by the incumbent government to cling to power, long-time opposition leader, Félix Tshisekedi, emerged as the new president of the DRC, having secured over 7 million votes, representing 38.57% of the total votes cast. The runner-up – another opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, leader of the Lamuka coalition – garnered about 6.3 million votes (34.38%). The ruling coalition’s candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, came in third with over 4.3 million votes, representing 23.84% of votes cast.1 The voter turnout was 47.6%. However, Fayulu, who led the pre-election polls, filed a fraud complaint with the country’s highest court, calling for a recount of the official results. The court upheld the results. The DRC’s Catholic Church also intimated that the results gathered by its 40 000-strong monitoring team pointed to a different outcome than announced by the electoral commission.2 The disputed elections have larger consequences for the post-Kabila government. This article discusses the issues surrounding the elections and implications for stability in the post-election environment. The first section discusses the contentious issues that characterised the pre-election phase. This is followed by an analysis of developments in the post-election environment and the overall implications for stability.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Political stability, State Building
  • Political Geography: Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Author: Edknowledge Mandikwaza
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Conflict Trends
  • Institution: The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)
  • Abstract: Beyond offensive international diplomatic actions, court applications and protests, a national dialogue appears the best alternative to resolve Zimbabwe’s swelling socio-economic and political afflictions. The country is at a crossroads as its political and economic crises deepen. To salvage it from complete collapse, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, on 22 January 2019, called on political parties, churches and civic society leaders to participate in a national dialogue. Only political parties, however, were invited to the inaugural dialogue, which commenced on 7 February 2019. Churches, on the other hand, have mooted their own national dialogue process. The dominant purpose of both dialogue initiatives, however, remains vague to ordinary citizens and to diverse stakeholders, yet the principle of inclusivity should underpin such developments. This article therefore provides insights on what constitutes a national dialogue, why it is necessary, the potential for success, challenges, and possible steps towards an inclusive process.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nationalism, Elections, Political Crisis
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Author: Reuben J.B. Lewis
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Conflict Trends
  • Institution: The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)
  • Abstract: It is now commonplace that every election in any country across Africa is a defining moment for statebuilding or a potential source of conflict – and for countries coming out of civil war, the stakes are even higher. Therefore, systems and structures must be operationalised as a catalyst to prevent or avert political violence in times of elections. In West Africa, National Elections Response Groups (NERGs) are being developed as response structures to mitigate election-related conflict, and their operationalisation is proving to be successful in a number of countries that have held elections – including, most recently, in Sierra Leone. NERGs are designed as infrastructures for peace, and serve as platforms for peaceful dialogue and shuttle diplomacy with political parties during national elections. NERGs also respond to incidences of harassment, intimidation and violence; work towards keeping communities calm and organised; and engage with all political groups to keep the peace. This article discusses the development and operationalisation of NERGs as an infrastructure for peace during recent elections in some West African countries.
  • Topic: Peacekeeping, Elections, Democracy, Peace
  • Political Geography: Africa, West Africa
  • Author: Freedom C. Onuoha, Jide Ojo
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Conflict Trends
  • Institution: The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)
  • Abstract: “Going, going, gone!” is a refrain commonly used to herald the determination of the highest bidder of an item being sold on auction. This process of presenting items for bid, taking bids, and then selling them to the highest bidder aptly encapsulates a questionable practice that has permeated Nigeria’s recent electoral experience: vote buying. Vote buying is not fundamentally new to Nigeria’s electoral politics or only restricted to Nigeria or Africa.1 According to Matenga, however, “nearly 80% of voters from 36 African countries believe voters are bribed – either sometimes, often or always. Furthermore, 16% of voters in African countries reported being offered money or goods in exchange for their vote during the last election”. Since the return of democracy to Nigeria in May 1999, vote buying has steadily grown in scale and brazenness. Several videos and images have emerged, showing unabashed sharing of cash, food and valuable items among the electorate by politicians and parties during recent elections in Edo, Anambra, Ondo and Ekiti states. This has led to the apt description of Nigeria’s electoral politics as “cash-and-carry democracy”. If not urgently addressed, this trend portends grave danger for Nigeria’s democracy. This article therefore highlights the nature, causes and implications of vote buying for democratic governance in Nigeria.
  • Topic: Corruption, Governance, Elections, Democracy, Bribery
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria