the important and the not-so-important, horribly conflated.

How Difficult is it to Hold an Election in Africa?

In POI on April 1, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Very, very, very difficult, if the past

[J]udges at the International Criminal Court on Wednesday authorized a prosecutor to investigate Kenya’s bloody post-election violence, a move that could lead to key leaders facing charges at The Hague. In a 2-1 ruling, the ICC judges said the available information “provides a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed on Kenyan territory.”


Southern Sudan’s main political party withdrew its candidate from the country’s upcoming presidential election, a surprise move that erodes the credibility of the nation’s first multiparty election in decades. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement pulled Yassir Arman—widely considered the most serious challenger to President Omar al-Bashir’s re-election bid—from the race late Wednesday.

and future are any indication:

Zimbabwe’s first human rights and electoral commissions have been sworn in by President Robert Mugabe. The creation of the two commissions is seen as crucial in moving the country towards free and fair elections.

Wait! Wasn’t that last one good news? It would be, if it wasn’t eclipsed by Mugabe’s recent moves to insulate himself from the global economy and emasculate PM Morgan Tsvangirai, the better half of Zimbabwe’s “unity government.”

Too often, the press portrays these election struggles as the African equivalent of Machismo politics—and that cracking down on corruption and fraud = instant democracy. Instead, these crises emerge in the concurrent 1) vacillation between dependency (on foreign aid, on a natural resource economy) and hyper-isolationist political cultures, and 2) spread of moderate and modernized opinions within the larger populace.

In other words, (I’m risking overgeneralization here) the leaders’ political ideals fail to represent their people’s day-to-day reality, and a culturally heterogeneous populace loses community- and self-agency as a result.

Human Rights and Election commissions are great, but global economic and political support for a shift in power to local, decentralized governance could do much more to guarantee and sustain a democratic Zimbabwe, Sudan, or Kenya.


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