Piers Pigou, Southern Africa Project Director, and Trevor Maisiri, Southern Africa Senior Analyst, talk about tensions surrounding Zimbabwe’s 2013 elections in this video. We recently published a report looking at possible paths towards elections, expected to be held between July and November this year.
Showing posts tagged as "elections"
Showing posts tagged elections
Kenya After the Elections
Nairobi/Brussels | 15 May 2013
Though the 2013 general elections were relatively peaceful, Kenya is still deeply divided and ethnically polarised.
Kenya After the Elections, the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group,examines the 4 March elections that saw Jubilee Coalition’s Uhuru Kenyatta declared president. Despite various shortcomings and allegations of irregularities, Kenyans averted a repeat of the 2007-2008 post-election violence. However, the conflict drivers that triggered the 2007 bloodshed, including a culture of impunity, land grievances, corruption, ethnic tensions, weak institutions and regional and socio-economic inequality,have yet to be addressed adequately.
The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:
- The government needs to restore confidence in theelectoral machinery, which was undermined by technical failures in electronic voting and questions over the transparency of the tallying process.
- Domestically, implementing devolution presents a crucial test, both in ensuring Kenya’s counties do not become “ethnic fiefdoms” and are inclusive of minority interests, and that they have adequate financial support despite the country’s current fiscal deficit.
- Internationally, the new government will need to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) as the cases against the new president and deputy president for their alleged roles in the 2007 election violence proceed. Failure to do so will strain international relations, to the detriment of Kenya’s economy and its people.
- Despite the strength of the Jubilee Coalition in the legislatures, the opposition needs to regroup under strong leadership to represent fully the more than five million voters who supported it.
“Maintaining the status quo is simply not an option for a still divided Kenya”, says Cedric Barnes, Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa Project Director. “The ICC cases, a disappointed and bitter opposition and the implementation of an untested system of devolved governance remain significant challenges for the new government”.
“The new government has the opportunity to usher in an era of peace and socio-economic development that would benefit all communities and unite the country”, says EJ Hogendoorn, Crisis Group’s Africa Program Deputy Director. “The foundation has been laid with the overwhelming support the constitution received in 2010, a base that should be maintained and built upon for a peaceful and prosperous future”.
Watch Samina Ahmed, Crisis Group’s South Asia Project Director, discuss Pakistan’s elections with Jim Middleton on ABC News: Newsline
Rafsanjani’s last-minute entry transforms Iranian race | Reuters
By Yeganeh Torbati and Marcus George
Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani threw himself into Iran’s election race on Saturday as a flurry of heavyweight candidates rushed to beat the registration deadline in the most unpredictable contest for decades.
Iranian media reported that Rafsanjani - a relative moderate - had registered for the June 14 presidential election with just minutes to spare. His candidacy radically alters what was previously seen as a contest between rival conservative groups.
The former president could scupper the hopes of ‘Principlists’, loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who are aiming to secure a quick and painless transition and paper over the deep fissures between the opposing camps.
Rafsanjani, 78, who was president from 1989 to 1997, is expected to draw some support from reformists because he backed the opposition movement whose protests were crushed after the last, disputed election in 2009.
The election comes at a critical moment, as Iran reels from international sanctions over its disputed atomic program and faces the threat of attack by Israel if it crosses what the Jewish state calls a ‘red line’ towards acquiring a nuclear weapon. Tehran strenuously denies it wants an atomic bomb.
‘Zimbabwe not ready for poll’ | Mail & Guardian
By Farai Shoko
Zimbabwe is not ready for elections and faces the risk of a violent or illegitimate election because it has not reformed all areas that it promised to when the unity government was set up, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG).
Both Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have insisted elections will go ahead this year at a date yet to be set. However, in its report released this week, titled “Storm Clouds in Zimbabwe: Scenarios Ahead of the Elections”, the watchdog said that unless the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is able to push for reforms, particularly in the security sector, the country will end up with another disputed election reminiscent of the 2008 poll, whose outcome was contested.
“The MDC formations have called for the full resolution of outstanding election roadmap issues even after adoption of a new Constitution. Zanu-PF says the new Constitution should supersede the roadmap. Without agreement on such important issues, Zimbabwe is not ready for elections,” the group said.
Photo: Flickr/Gregg Carlstrom
"Timor-Leste deserves praise for the success with which it has implemented pragmatic policies designed to bring rapid stability following the 2006 crisis."
—from Crisis Group’s recent report, Timor-Leste: Stability at What Cost?
Timor-Leste: Stability at What Cost?
Dili/Jakarta/Brussels | 8 May 2013
Although swelling oil and gas revenues have bought Timor-Leste peace, political empowerment, security reforms and fiscal caution are needed to ensure stability can outlast the boom.
Timor-Leste: Stability at What Cost?, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the situation following the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers in December 2012 after two successful elections that demonstrated the young country’s stability. Although pragmatic decisions by local leaders after the 2006 crisis to spend their way out of conflict have worked so far, this strategy is unsustainable as revenues from the petroleum industry may start dwindling soon.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
- Elections have centralised power in the hands of a few. Although the government and the sole opposition party have a better working relationship, parliament and the broader policy and legislative development processes remain somewhat anaemic.
- Stability has not come through institutional reforms within the security sector, whose weaknesses triggered the 2006 crisis. Policing capacity remains weak, the army’s role is still not clearly defined and broader institutional arrangements providing a clearer division of labour among the state’s security forces need to be formalised.
- The government needs to be more prudent about spending and ensure that investment generates long-term returns. The greatest challenge will be to make progress in providing economic opportunities without exhausting national wealth. The government will have to prioritise the search for more sustainable employment for a rapidly growing workforce, driven by one of the world’s highest birth rates.
- Dili will also need to find ways to tackle the perceived growth in social inequality, produce visible results against corruption, and work with parliament and civil society in order to produce legislation and policies that enjoy a greater degree of public legitimacy.
“Timor-Leste deserves praise for the success with which it has implemented pragmatic policies that stabilised the country following the 2006 crisis”, says Cillian Nolan, Crisis Group Senior South East Asia Analyst. “There are, however, serious concerns about sustainability that will have to be dealt with over the next decade”.
“The government has been less interested in pursuing difficult reforms than in transforming the image of a country known for too long as a place of violence”, says Jim Della-Giacoma, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “Promoting confidence at home and abroad is important for transforming any post-conflict society. But Timor-Leste has a very limited window of opportunity for making the changes that might mitigate the still real risks of an eventual return to conflict”.
Zimbabwe: Election Scenarios
Johannesburg/Brussels | 6 May 2013
The pervasive fear of violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe’s 2013 elections contradicts political leaders’ rhetorical commitments to peace, and raises concerns that the country may not be ready to go to the polls.
Zimbabwe: Election Scenarios, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, reviews developments in what remains an inchoate political environment, and describes possible paths towards elections, expected to be held between July and November this year.
Zimbabwe’s Inclusive Government – the country’s uneasy power-sharing experiment, based on a 2008 Global Political Agreement (GPA) between, principally, President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party – averted greater political violence and repression. But it has not delivered political or economic stability. A reasonably free, conclusive vote is still possible, but so too are disputed polls or even a military intervention by security officials supporting, and profiting from, Mugabe’s continued rule.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
- There is lack of consensus and clarity among the GPA partners on reforms following the 16 March constitutional referendum. The country must not rush into elections before addressing these concerns as well as the practical implementation of necessary reforms. Without these, deferring the vote may be appropriate.
- The Southern African Development Community (SADC), in particular South Africa, remains central to shaping a credible vote and legitimising its outcome. SADC must convene a heads of state summit on Zimbabwe that emphasises compliance with the community’s “Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections”. It should also establish a liaison office in Harare to monitor and evaluate electoral preparations; define strict benchmarks for compliance by the GPA parties; and establish clear monitoring and observation roles in the election.
- Pro-democracy institutions established under the GPA need much more support. The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee, in particular, needs to be enhanced throughurgent permanent deployment of SADC officials; deployment of additional monitors in the provinces; independent investigation of alleged interference by state security forces in politics; and extension of its mandate to cover the entire election period and its aftermath.
“Continued violations of the GPA, the lack of reform and the recent rejection of a UN election needs assessment mission suggest that conditions for peaceful, credible elections are not yet in place”, says Comfort Ero, Crisis Group’s Africa Program Director. “The new constitution could provide the basis for moving forward, but its immediate political impact will be limited and it is unlikely to ensure free and fair elections”.
“Elections in a context of acute divisions will not provide stability”, says Piers Pigou, Southern Africa Project Director. “The Southern African Development Community must define and enforce the necessary minimum conditions for a credible vote, and ensure the country does not rush into elections before there is clarity and consensus on – and implementation of – necessary reforms”.
Crisis Group Alert: Salvaging Guinea’s elections?
Dakar/Brussels | 27 Feb 2013
The opposition’s recent suspension of its participation in preparations for the May legislative elections illustrates the tensions threatening Guinea’s fragile democratic transition. Worse still, they may undermine its brittle internal peace. The immediate reasons for the walkout – legal and technical concerns over the revision of voter rolls – should not distract from the country’s deep divisions. The May vote, if it takes place, will do so amid severe distrust among political elites, heightened ethnic tensions and pervasive allegations of fraud. The potential for a failed electoral process to become a pretext for worse – protests degenerating into bloody clashes, communal violence, and perhaps even the return of military interference in civilian politics – is real. To avoid this, all parties need to step back, engage in genuine dialogue and work together to create an atmosphere in which election results have some chance of being accepted by all involved.
On 23 February, the two main Guinean opposition coalitions, together with a number of other parties, announced that they would withdraw from preparations for the legislative elections, finally scheduled for 12 May this year. They criticise the internal workings of the electoral commission, raise fears of fraud and contest the procedures for overhauling voter rolls, demanding that a new company for this task be selected through a competitive tender. They also denounce the exclusion of Guineans abroad, whose participation is provided for in the constitution and who cast ballots in the 2010 presidential polls – overwhelmingly for the opposition. New demonstrations have been called for today.
Guinea’s recent political upheaval has meant repeated delays to the legislative vote, which should have taken place in 2007. The death of the long-serving dictator President Lansana Conté in 2008 opened the way for a further brutal spell of military rule. In 2010, the country’s first free presidential election successfully ended military rule, but was marked by fierce competition, eighteen violent deaths and a rise in ethnic politicking. More than two years after assuming office, the winner of those polls, President Alpha Condé, a long-time democracy advocate, has not yet held the legislative elections. This is deliberate, say opposition politicians. They accuse President Condé of having won fraudulently in 2010 and, because his ethnic group is a minority, of using delays to the parliamentary vote to prepare the ground for rigging. For its part, the president’s camp argues it tried to launch deep and important electoral reforms, which it was forced to abandon so as to accommodate the opposition, and that, even now, the opposition – which it portrays as a bunch of corrupt plutocrats – irresponsibly obstructs the holding of elections. Both sides’ charges are grave.
Thus far, repeated national and international efforts to forge political consensus on the electoral system have failed. A “consultation” at the presidential palace, to which “all actors of socio-political life” have been invited, has been tabled for 4 March. Given that the 12 May date itself is contested, and that for a vote on that date President Condé must convene the election on 3 March, this meeting appears to be taking place too late. Moreover, its vague details, the bloated list of invitees, and the fact that it was called by the territorial administration minister rather than the president itself offer scant reassurance to opposition politicians that the government – thus far reluctant to engage them in meaningful dialogue – suddenly intends to do so.
The opposition’s withdrawal bodes ill for a peaceful and legitimate vote. The precise implications of the election commission pushing ahead with a May date – as the commission’s chair Bakary Fofana promises – without the consent of opposition-aligned commissioners, are troubling, if unclear. Nor is it clear what the opposition means by withdrawing from the current process while insisting it will not boycott the polls, or by its oft-repeated threat to “block” the vote. Non-participation rarely proves a successful strategy. The opposition risks being left without a voice in decisions related to electoral mechanics, like the revision of voter rolls. Its exclusion, and the resulting polarisation, will make it almost impossible to manage the conflicts that will inevitably arise during a contentious competition for power in a divided society with a recent violent past. Despite recent efforts by the judiciary to curb impunity, Guinea’s security forces have a long history of heavy-handed repression. A scrappy election could present restless officers, who only recently submitted to civilian rule, with opportunities for troublemaking. The cost of divisive and violent elections for the young democracy could be enormous.
A preferable course – as Crisis Group’s recent report recommended – would be to redouble efforts, while there is still time, to achieve at least a minimum consensus on the basic parameters for the vote. Both sides need to engage in a genuine dialogue and both need to give ground. President Condé, as incumbent, must demonstrate first his commitment to conciliatory politics. He needs to present opposition politicians with an alternative to either a boycott or passive acceptance of his will and offer a credible platform on which to engage them in direct conversations. He could, for example, concede to, and apply himself to raise funding for, the vote of the Guinean diaspora – who in 2010 comprised only just over 120,000 registered voters (of four million). In turn the opposition should take technical challenges seriously, in particular regarding the voter rolls, as it cannot afford to prove right those who accuse it of obstruction.
In working through the technical controversies, the UN Development Programme, the International Organisation of Francophonie and the European Union, who all provide assistance but have come under attack from one or the other side, are natural allies and should work on a joint intervention. Political engagement must accompany technical assistance: the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), given its role during the transition two years ago, could offer its good offices to facilitate dialogue if necessary. Without urgent action, Guinea is headed towards a risky and divisive vote with grave implications for stability and the discredit of the entire political class.
Memories of Violence Haunt Upcoming Presidential Election in Kenya | PBS Newshour
After the disputed presidential election of December 2007, Kenya fell into chaos as neighbors from different tribal ethnic groups turned on each other in violence. Five years later, Kenyans are worried that history may repeat itself as they prepare for new elections. Special correspondent Kira Kay reports.
Watch our Africa Program Director, Comfort Ero, speak on Kenya’s upcoming elections and the risk of violence like that which followed elections in 2007-08. Crisis Group published a recent report on the issue.