Increasingly aware of the risk of strife presented by elections in countries affected by conflict, governments and civil society need more effective approaches to prevent election-related violence. The U.S. Institute of Peace conducts research, training and fieldwork to develop evidence that will improve knowledge in this field and inform initiatives such as codes of conduct developed by police and elections officials to avert violence. USIP’s Academy also conducts extensive training and education on election violence prevention in Africa. Learn more in USIP’s fact sheet on Preventing Election Violence.
Nigeria’s disputed election 12 days ago is raising protest at home and concern abroad over its implications for the strength of democracy in that country and across Africa. Yesterday’s new wrinkle was the postponement of this week’s planned election for Nigerian state governors. Nigeria’s electoral commission is working to fix problems in a vote management system that failed to transparently process and report a result on February 25. An erosion of democracy’s credibility in Africa’s most populous nation would be catastrophic.
In mid-summer 2022, Nigeria is just seven months away from elections that could strengthen, or set back, its democracy. Good news includes a surge in voter registrations and a wave of civic engagement among young Nigerians who in recent years have often despaired of better governance through elections. Yet dangers loom: risks of electoral violence or disputed election results in a country where political and criminal violence has reached new levels. To help Africa’s most populous nation pivot toward stability — and to indirectly bolster democratization across the continent — the United States and other international partners should provide diplomatic, political and technical support for Nigeria’s electoral authority.
Facing numerous technical difficulties, the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) delayed parliamentary elections from June 5 to June 21, postponing the vote for the second time. Some major opposition parties are boycotting, and no voting will take place in civil war hit Tigray or in several other areas facing insecurity. Elsewhere, deficiencies in election administration have meant voting has already been postponed in many constituencies, and some of the logistical arrangements to underpin the vote are still to be implemented. Although there are risks of electoral violence, any incidents are unlikely to be especially significant in a context of high levels of ongoing political violence.
The Nigeria Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance is a joint initiative between USIP and senior leaders from Nigerian civil society to promote good governance practices that strengthen the foundations of peace and security for all Nigerians. Using a cohesive, strategic approach to engage in and advocate for peace and security, the working group fosters relationships between citizens and governors, ensuring that citizens' voices impact crucial decisions.
The Network of Nigerian Facilitators (NNF) is a group of professional peace mediators trained and advised by USIP to mitigate and resolve local conflicts through nonviolent means in Nigeria. Since 2018, USIP has supported the NNF with the aim of preventing conflicts from escalating beyond the community level by piloting dialogue-based approaches and connecting local peacebuilders with policymakers to inform government responses to conflicts.