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  • Author: Jibrin Ibrahim
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In Nigeria 2007 will mark the first time a third consecutive presidential election will take place and the first time one elected leader will succeed another. Many observers fear, however, that the upcoming elections, like so many previous ones, will be marred by electoral fraud and rigging. Because of the country 's history of electoral fraud, elections often have been associated with political tension, crisis, and even violence. The road map for the 2007 elections appears to be in jeopardy. The National Assembly has not reviewed the constitution to give real autonomy to the electoral commission. In addition, preparations such as registration of voters and issuance of voter identity cards still have not been completed. The major political parties are intensifying internal wrangling and elimination of rivals. The president and vice president are exchanging acrimonious allegations of corruption, further raising political tension in the country. Interethnic and regional tensions and conflicts also are increasing. Southern politicians are exerting pressure to retain power, while northern politicians insist that a long-standing pact says power should revert to their region. Over the past fifteen years, political tension has risen significantly in the petroleum-rich Niger Delta. Insurgency has spread and ethnic and youth militias have emerged. The state has lost the capacity to exercise authority effectively. The international community has played a major role in Nigerian elections since 1999, especially in monitoring activities. It is important that this help include effective monitoring of the whole election process. While the integrity of the elections can be protected effectively only by a vigilant citizenry, the international community has an important supporting role. In May 2006 the National Assembly threw out constitutional reform proposals designed to allow President Olusegun Obasanjo a third term in office. As soon as he began his second term in 2003, it was evident that plans were afoot to prolong his rule beyond the constitutionally determined tenure. The fact that he was stopped in his tracks gives hope that Nigerians will continue to struggle for democracy. A new consciousness is rising in the country that people must organize to defend their franchise. If a plan for a programmed failure of the 2007 elections does exist, chances are that Nigerians will combat it and try to salvage the elections. Observers are waiting to see if they can succeed.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: This report documents the opinions of the Nigerian people at an important time in their country's history—just before and after the historic elections that resulted in Nigeria's first ever hand over in power between one elected civilian ruler to another elected civilian. Overall, Nigerians show optimism in their society, the institutions that comprise it, and the future direction in which newly elected leaders will take them. At the same time, many show caution toward and disappointment in some aspects of government, especially when evaluating the conduct of the recent elections. Here is a summary of the key findings of IFES' pre- and post- election surveys. A more detailed examination of the results will follow in the subsequent sections.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Carter Center
  • Abstract: Liberians went to the polls in great numbers on October 11 and November 8, 2005, to elect a president, vice president, 30 senators, and 64 representatives. In these first elections since the end of 14 years of civil war, voters across the country demonstrated their commitment to peace and democratic governance. Both elections were widely praised as violence-free, orderly, and well-administered. Throughout the electoral process, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and The Carter Center sought to demonstrate international support for Liberia's democratic process and to provide Liberians and the international community with an impartial and accurate assessment of the electoral process and the political environment surrounding it.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil Society, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Liberia
  • Author: Michele Dunne
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The political opening that began in late 2004 in Egypt has been unlike any seen in the country in at least twenty years, perhaps in a half century. It has resulted so far in Egypt holding its first-ever presidential election as well as parliamentary elections that were significantly fairer and more transparent than in the past, although marred by violence. Political dissidents are making bolder demands, most of the taboos on criticizing the regime have been swept away, and there is now more opposition representation in Parliament than at any time since the 1952 Free Officers' coup. The Muslim Brotherhood, an illegal organization but also the only effective opposition party, made dramatic gains in the fall 2005 elections. Yet many observers inside and outside Egypt view the political reform steps made in 2004 and 2005 as no more than cosmetic measures taken to preserve rather than change an essentially authoritarian order. Has Egypt entered an era of irreversible momentum toward democratization, or is it merely undergoing a brief liberal episode that will not fundamentally change the way political power is exercised?
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Since the new, democratically elected government came to power in September 2005, the first since 1993, there has been marked deterioration in Burundi's political climate. Led by the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), the government has arrested critics, moved to muzzle the press, committed human rights abuses and tightened its control over the economy. Unless it reverses this authoritarian course, it risks triggering violent unrest and losing the gains of the peace process. The international community needs to monitor the government's performance, encouraging it to adopt a more inclusive approach and remain engaged even after UN troops depart in December 2006.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Africa, Burundi
  • Author: Robert Pringle
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since the 1991 uprising, which saw the ouster of the country's long-standing military dictator and ushered in a democratically elected government, Mali has achieved a record of democratization that is among the best in Africa. This process has been driven by multiple factors. External observers often point to broader Africa-wide change and a remarkable constellation of “founding fathers” who demonstrated vision and self-sacrifice following the change of government. But if you ask Malians why their country has successfully democratized, most of them will respond by stressing Mali's heritage of tolerance and decentralized government, dating back more than a millennium to the Ghana Empire and its two successor states. For Malians, democratization combined with decentralization is a homecoming rather than a venture into uncharted waters. But they recognize that the country's democratization process continues to be a difficult one, inevitably laced with controversy. Although satisfaction levels remain generally high, there is a near-universal desire for more rapid progress toward improved quality of life. This unease suggests the possibility that despite their legendary patience, Malians may eventually lose hope and faith in democracy unless economic growth accelerates.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ghana
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: The simultaneous presidential, governorate council and local council elections in 2006 made them the most technically complex ever held in Yemen. For the first time in the region, a head of state faced a credible opponent in a competitive electoral contest.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Yemen
  • Author: Joe Clark
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
  • Abstract: An Introduction from Africa Program Director HowardWolpe and Canada Institute Director David Biette: In October of 2004, The Right Honorable Joe Clark, former prime minister of Canada and a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, led the Commonwealth Election Observation Mission to Cameroon. On April 29, 2005 he hosted “Election Observation Missions: Making Them Count,” a conference sponsored jointly by the Africa Program and the Canada Institute, which focused on the follow-up phase of international election observation. Conference participants were asked to consider how the role of international election observation missions might be strengthened, so as to serve as an effective practical means of promoting and advancing democracy. In this paper, Joe Clark, drawing on the contributions of conference participants, provides an overview of the debate on effective election observation missions.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Alex Vines, Nicholas Shaxson, Lisa Rimli
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Angola has undergone dramatic economic and political changes since independence from Portugal in 1975, and continues to face severe challenges three decades later. An open democratic process has not yet been established, the economy faces deep-rooted structural imbalances, and the country's international relations have undergone many shifts and changes, so that it is currently again in a major transitional era.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Development, Government, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The 31 March 2005 parliamentary elections that confirmed the full control of President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF government were neither free nor fair and disappointed those who hoped they might mark a turn away from the crisis that has dominated Zimbabwe's political life for the past five years. The post-election situation looks deceptively familiar. In fact, Mugabe's era is coming to an end, both the ruling party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) face existential challenges, and the international community needs to urgently rethink strategies and find new ways to maintain pressure for a peaceful democratic transition.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe