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  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Puntland is the first of Somalia's federal units to attempt transition from clan-based representation to directly-elected government, but poor preparations and last-minute cancellation of local elections in July underline the challenges of reconciling competing clan interests with a democratic constitution. Cancellation pragmatically averted violence, but societal tensions remain unaddressed. The presidential vote by a clan-selected parliament in January 2014 will thus be fraught. Weak political and judicial institutions will struggle to mediate, risking involvement by partisan arms of the state. Direct elections are no panacea for reducing the conflict risks, but hard-won incremental progress on the constitution and local democratisation must not be abandoned. The cancelled ballot's lessons should be instructive for promised elections in the rest of Somalia. Better technical preparations matter, but Puntland's experience shows that donors and other international actors also need to be heedful of local political realities, including support of elites, robustness of institutions and viability of electoral districts.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Civil Society, Democratization, Development, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Although the mayhem following the disputed December 2007 elections seemed an exception, violence has been a com­mon feature of Kenya's politics since the introduction of a multiparty system in 1991. Yet, the number of people killed and displaced following that disputed vote was unprecedented. To provide justice to the victims, combat pervasive political impunity and deter future violence, the International Criminal Court (ICC) brought two cases against six suspects who allegedly bore the greatest responsibility for the post-election violence. These cases have enormous political consequences for both the 2012 elections and the country's stability. During the course of the year, rulings and procedures will inevitably either lower or increase com­munal tensions. If the ICC process is to contribute to the deterrence of future political violence in Kenya, the court and its friends must explain its work and limitations better to the public. Furthermore, Kenya's government must complement that ICC process with a national process aimed at countering impunity and punishing ethnic hate speech and violence.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Government, International Law
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Despite marked improvements, numerous grievances that plunged Liberia into bloody wars from 1989 until President Charles Taylor left in August 2003 (originally for exile in Nigeria) remain evident: a polarised society and political system; corruption, nepotism and impunity; a dishevelled security sector; youth unemployment; and gaps and inconsistencies in the electoral law. The November 2011 election was the country's second successful postwar voting exercise but exposed its deep fault lines. The re-elected president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, needs to use her relatively weak mandate to focus on reconciling a divided nation.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Poverty, Natural Resources, Fragile/Failed State, Youth Culture, Governance, Law Enforcement
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who had not been seen in public for several months, was announced on 20 August 2012 by Ethiopian state television. The passing of the man who has been Ethiopia's epicentre for 21 years will have profound national and regional consequences. Meles engineered one-party rule in effect for the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and his Tigrayan inner circle, with the complicity of other ethnic elites that were co-opted into the ruling alliance, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). The Front promised freedom, democracy and ethnic devolution but is highly centralised, tightly controls the economy and suppresses political, social, ethnic and religious liberties. In recent years, Meles had relied ever more on repression to quell growing dissent. His successor will lead a weaker regime that struggles to manage increasing unrest unless it truly implements ethnic federalism and institutes fundamental governance reform. The international community should seek to influence the transition actively because it has a major interest in the country's stability.
  • Topic: Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The April 2011 general elections – if credible and peaceful – would reverse the degeneration of the franchise since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999, yield more representative and legitimate institutions and restore faith in a democratic trajectory. Anything similar to the 2007 sham, however, could deepen the vulnerability of West Africa's largest country to conflict, further alienate citizens from the political elite and reinforce violent groups' narratives of bad governance and exclusion. Flawed polls, especially if politicians stoke ethnic or religious divides, may ignite already straining fault lines, as losers protest results. Despite encouraging electoral preparations, serious obstacles remain. Many politicians still seem determined to use violence, bribery or rigging to win the spoils of office. In the remaining weeks, national institutions, led by the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), should redouble efforts to secure the poll's integrity, tackle impunity for electoral crimes, increase transparency and bolster safeguards, including by publicising results polling station by polling station and rejecting bogus returns.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Despite a marked improvement, the situation in Côte d'Ivoire remains fragile. The transfer to The Hague of former President Laurent Gbagbo – indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) – only twelve days before the parliamentary elections of 11 December 2011, has stoked political tensions. After a vote characterised by low turnout, the country remains deeply divided and still faces grave threats. The weakness and imbalance of the security apparatus and the two-tiered justice system, both of which reinforce the convictions of extremists, are the two main challenges the government must overcome in the months ahead. Although voting itself was peaceful, an electoral campaign marred by incidents serves as a reminder that political violence is still an everyday reality. The installation of a new Assembly marks a further step towards normalisation, but the country has yet to escape trouble.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The principal preoccupation of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) is to win the elections now scheduled for 11-13 April 2010. It has manipulated the census results and voter registration, drafted the election laws in its favour, gerrymandered electoral districts, co-opted traditional leaders and bought tribal loyalties. It has done this all over Sudan, but especially in Darfur, where it has had freedom and means to carry out its strategy, since that is the only region still under emergency rule. Because of the fundamentally flawed process, the international community, working closely with the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan (AUHIP), should acknowledge that whoever wins will likely lack legitimacy; press for Darfur peace talks to resume immediately after the elections; insist that any Darfur peace deal provides for a new census, voter registration and national elections; and lay the groundwork for a peaceful referendum on southern self-determination and post referendum North-South relations.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A la veille du second tour de l'élection présidentielle, la tension ne cesse de monter entre les partisans de Laurent Gbagbo et ceux d'Alassane Ouattara. Le 19 et le 22 novembre des échauffourées ont opposé des partisans des deux candidats, faisant, plusieurs blessés. Ces incidents sont symptomatiques de la détérioration du climat en Côte d'Ivoire depuis l'annonce des résultats du premier tour. Ils s'ajoutent à la brutalité de certains discours de campagne et font planer le spectre d'un scrutin calamiteux. L'heure n'est plus à l'autosatisfaction et aux exhortations courtoises. Le message unique de la communauté internationale et des Nations unies doit être clair : les acteurs politiques et militaires ivoiriens doivent accepter les résultats du vote du 28 novembre. Ceux qui opteraient pour le sabotage du dernier acte de cette présidentielle par des fraudes, des intimidations d'électeurs ou des violences s'exposeront à de nouvelles sanctions individuelles de l'ONU.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After nearly a year of seemingly endless talks brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Zimbabwe's long-ruling ZANU-PF party and the two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formed a coalition government in February. Opposition entry into government is a landmark development, and broad segments of the population are optimistic for the first time in years that a decade of repression and decline can be reversed. There is considerable international scepticism whether the flawed arrangement can succeed; many are tempted, with some reason, to second-guess the decision of mainstream MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to accept the deal under SADC and ZANU-PF pressure. But he had no good alternative, given a collapsed economy and humanitarian catastrophe from which his constituency was suffering. Donors should re-engage and apply a “humanitarian plus” aid strategy. South Africa, in collaboration with SADC, should negotiate retirement of hardline senior security leaders in the lifespan of the inclusive government.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Government, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Le 4 mars 2007, les deux principaux protagonistes de la crise ivoirienne signaient l'accord politique de Ouagadougou (APO). Ce compromis a, dans un pre-mier temps, apporté un environnement de paix en Côte d'Ivoire. La ligne de démarcation entre les deux pro-tagonistes a été démantelée. Un nouveau gouvernement a été formé et les bases ont été jetées pour apporter une réponse aux deux questions-clés du conflit : l'identité et la citoyenneté ivoiriennes et la légitimité du pouvoir. Mais, plus de deux ans après son adoption, l'APO va mal. Une sortie de crise sera possible uniquement si les engagements pris dans la capitale burkinabé sont enfin suivis d'effets. Sortir la Côte d'Ivoire de sa décen-nie de crise ne nécessitera pas seulement l'organisation d'élections crédibles mais impliquera également des progrès significatifs dans le processus de désarmement ainsi qu'une véritable réunification de l'administration. Ceci demandera la remobilisation de la facilitation burkinabé et une pression accrue des partenaires inter-nationaux sur les acteurs du conflit.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization, Peace Studies, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Africa