n Conflict Trends - Electoral conflicts in Africa : is power-sharing the new democracy?

Volume 2008, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


The electoral crises that gripped Kenya and Zimbabwe in 2008, fuelled by allegations of rigged elections and marked by ethnic and political violence, are symbols of the problems that confront democracy in Africa. The struggle for democracy in Africa at the end of the Cold War has been followed by a struggle with the practice of the concept.

Once touted as the solution to Africa's problems, democracy has become a major source of conflict in countries with some of Africa's biggest economies. This does not mean that democracy is bad for Africa - it is far better than the dictatorships of old. But, given the nature of political power in much of the continent, where power remains linked to ethnic agendas and resource control, Africa needs to confront and overcome the extreme tensions that elections have created in several of its most populous and wealthy countries. The good news is that this process, slow and painful as it has been, is already underway - even if partially. And a newly emerging economic imperative is playing a key role.

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