Maendeleo Policy Forum: Deepening Democracy - Election Management and Stability in Africa’s Divided SocietiesDec 14, 2016
Elections are increasingly the norm across the continent. The number of countries holding elections in Africa have grown exponentially over the last two decades. In the 1996–2006 decade, countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa held 44 elections. In 2005–2007, 26 presidential and 28 parliamentary elections were held in Africa and in 2011-2012, 25 presidential elections and 33 parliamentary polls took effectively place. And the African Union indicates that the continent will have held 31 elections by end of December 2016. Some 14 countries, including Kenya are scheduled to hold presidential and general elections in 2017.
Despite the number of African countries holding elections, Africa’s democracy remains fragile and susceptible to the threat of instability and violent conflict.
To ensure electoral stability in Africa, there is need for African Countries to have stronger institutional and electoral management systems to manage the country’s diversity more effectively so as to reduce electoral related violence. Efficient and strong African mechanisms are needed to underpin credible elections and to transform elections into an asset. Electoral integrity is necessary to elections into instruments of promoting social cohesion and inclusion, creating political legitimacy and effective management of diversity.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Siddharth Chatterjee, who is also the UNDP Resident Representative notes that, “The issue of effective inclusion is very important for an election to be seen as credible and fair. It is imperative to have credibility in the entire electoral process right from the political primaries to the preparation for the election itself and to the management of results.”
The objective of the forum, co-hosted by the Africa Policy Institute (API) and UNDP Africa, is to collate lessons and good practices in election management from past elections from selected cases from Africa including Kenya with a view to ensuring that elections democratically have integrity and effectively manage inclusivity and diversity. It is intended that the outputs of the Forum will directly feed into on-going and future policy-making and will also be shared with all stakeholders in informing the journey towards elections that are credible, peaceful, free and fair and auditable.
The Chief Executive Officer of Africa Policy Institute, Prof. Peter Kagwanja, who is one of the conveners of the Forum says “Through the Maendeleo Policy Forum, we want to trigger debate among Africans to be aware that we must take elections seriously, not only as a way of entrenching democracy but ensuring stability of our countries”.
The main Speaker of the Forum will be Mrs. Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC), and the Chair of the African Association of Electoral Authorities; who has successfully presided over the just concluded Ghana 2016 General Elections.