n Journal of African Union Studies - The African Union and election-related conflicts in Africa : an assessment and recommendations : research paper

Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2050-4292
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4306


The past decade has seen an increase in the number of violent election related conflicts in Africa. The year 2008 alone saw Zimbabwe, Kenya and Anjouan/Comoros at some stage of the election conflict spectrum. The African Union (AU), as the continental broker, has often arrived at the scenes rather late and without much coercive authority to enforce its prescriptions. The AU has the responsibility for ensuring that democracy flourishes through electoral processes and has an extensive normative framework that is scattered in a number of protocols. African leaders have now consolidated many of these in the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG). On the 16th of January 2012, Cameroon became the 15th Member State to complete the ratification process. This meant that on the 15th of February 2012, the ACDEG would finally come into force after a painfully slow ratification process.

Recently, one of Africa's leading scholars, Ali Mazrui declared that: "Most of the continent is still in pre-democracy era, and many elections are notoriously rigged" (Mazrui 2010). Modern Africa has had three historical moments: a moment of colonialism; a moment of liberation; and a moment of democratization. While the first two moments now belong to archives, the last is unfinished business and in many instances, bloody business. From its transformation from the Organisation of African Unity in July 2002, the AU has been seized with Africa's third moment and the task has not been easy. Pivotal to the third moment are elections which are free, fair and credible. To this extent, the AU has incrementally fashioned the institutional infrastructure for ensuring such an outcome.

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