Journal of African Elections - Volume 8, Issue 1, 2009
Volume 8, Issue 1, 2009
Author David K. LeonardSource: Journal of African Elections 8, pp 1 –13 (2009)More Less
Since 1990 contested elections have again become a regular fixture of the political systems of sub-Saharan Africa. But what do they mean? In this issue of the Journal of African Elections we consider four important sets of African elections and the lessons that can be drawn from them, both for democracy and for best electoral practice. None of these elections was 'typical' for the continent. All were fiercely contested. Those in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone came after extended periods of civil war; Kenya's provoked a major outbreak of violence after the results were announced; while Nigeria's saw opposition wins at the sub-national level and loss of life around the polling itself. Each has something important to say about the meaning of elections in Africa and the challenges that arise in running them well.
Source: Journal of African Elections 8, pp 14 –48 (2009)More Less
In 2006 the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) held its first multiparty legislative and presidential elections in more than 40 years. Although not without flaws these elections were seen by international observers as acceptably fair. They were also designed as a major milestone on the road to peace in a country that has been torn apart by civil war. The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Congo and the multi-donor election support that brought about these elections were both the largest and most expensive ever undertaken by the UN. The article poses two questions. One is, is democracy at hand in the DRC? The other is, have elections helped to bring peace? The answer to the first is 'Yes', but only if the term is defined narrowly to mean that multiple parties compete for power and that there is some marginal chance that the prime ministership might move to the opposition in 2011. If the question is rooted in a deeper understanding of democracy as based on the rule of law, protection for the political rights of minorities, a vigorous press, and, above all else, responsiveness of political leadership to the wishes of the citizenry, much is still lacking in the Congo. In most respects Congolese political life seems to be remarkably lacking in accountability. The answer to the second is cautiously positive. The number of warring groups in the DRC has been reduced and the elections gave President Kabila and his international interlocutors the legitimacy they needed to negotiate with Rwanda for the removal of the threat posed to the eastern DRC by General Nkunda.
The political economy of democratisation in Sierra Leone
Reflections on the elections of 2007 and 2008Source: Journal of African Elections 8, pp 49 –70 (2009)More Less
This study evaluates Sierra Leone's 2007 and 2008 elections, the role of the international community in supporting them, and their implications for the country's democracy. The 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone, the third generation of elections since the end of the civil war, were deemed substantially fair and resulted in a change of governing party, with Ernest Bai Koroma as president and the African Peoples Congress (APC) in the majority in Parliament. The 2008 local government elections were less successful, but gave the APC an even more decisive win. The restoration of peace in Sierra Leone, the succession of reasonable elections since 2000, and the change of regime via the ballot box in 2007 are all rightly seen as major accomplishments. This article examines the institutions of Sierra Leone's society and government that combined with international assistance to produce these positive results. Nonetheless, the structural conditions that gave rise to the civil war in the country - under-development, resource flows (diamonds and now, increasingly, drugs) that are difficult to control, a corrupt and remote political elite, marginalised youth, and strong regional divides in politics - all continue to exist.
The political and institutional context of the 2007 Kenyan elections and reforms needed for the futureSource: Journal of African Elections 8, pp 71 –107 (2009)More Less
For many Kenyans the outcome of the 2007 presidential election represented a continuation of the betrayal of the promise made by Mwai Kibaki's government, elected in 2002, that a new Constitution would be drafted which would help to deal with Kenya's governance problems. The consequence was a closely contested election, ethnic division, a flawed election process, and serious post-election violence, which lasted well into 2008.
This article analyses the underlying political features of Kenya that led to the election failure itself and the fundamental changes to the Kenyan system, including its Constitution, that are necessary to avert a recurrence of the 2007 election violence in the future.
Source: Journal of African Elections 8, pp 108 –144 (2009)More Less
The Nigerian elections of April 2007 were neither credible nor well managed. The prospects of 'free and fair' elections determining the leaders of Nigeria in the future are also poor. Nonetheless, elections are a secure and consequential feature of the country's governance structure. This article analyses the institutionalised aspects of Nigeria's government, economy and society which produced this result and considers the prospects for positive reform in the near future.