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.
Ethiopia is approaching parliamentary elections on June 5. This will be the first vote since the process of reform launched in 2018 by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and the stakes are extremely high. Elections to the next national parliament, the House of People's Representatives, may determine future decisions about the structure of the country and consolidate the ruling party’s power. While the short-term outlook for the vote is unlikely to change, the election may offer opportunities to support political dialogue which could sustain important reforms and decrease polarization.
Niger’s presidential election has ushered in the West African nation’s first-ever democratic transition of power. As some international observers have heralded the success of these elections, accusations of irregularities have led to massive protests and government repression, including a 10-day internet shutdown. Hundreds of people have been arrested in the capital, Niamey, while police have clashed with protesters in several other cities. USIP’s Nourdine Harouna Abdou explains what happened in the first- and second-round votes and what the elections mean for peace and security in Niger.
After an election period marked by violence and rising tension, the Central African Republic’s (CAR) incumbent president, Faustin Archange Touadéra, has been re-elected, according to the country’s election commission. Days before the vote, a disparate medley of armed groups coalesced to demand the vote be postponed. Since the polls’ closing, there has been a serious spike in violence with fighting in many major towns. The political opposition as well as the newly formed armed coalition have rejected the results and have demanded a re-run election. USIP’s Elizabeth Murray and Rachel Sullivan explain what led to rising violence in the weeks before the polls, what it means for the floundering 2019 peace agreement, and where the international community stands.
The ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) is expected to win Myanmar’s general elections on November 8, but the 2020 race is much more hotly contested than 2015. The growing political frustration of the country’s non-Burma ethnic nationalities is fueling insurgencies and the military-affiliated Union Solidarity and Development Party, and its armed forces patrons, are criticizing the government and attacking the country’s feeble electoral institutions. The way Myanmar’s ethnic nationalities experience the process will have major implications for peacemaking efforts moving forward.
For many years, election-related violence has posed a serious threat to the integrity of electoral processes worldwide. To prevent or minimize such violence, the international community has often relied upon election observation missions, which incorporate an extended on-the-ground presence and proactive mediation by international and domestic actors. This report discusses the challenge observer missions face in confronting election violence, and suggests how preventive efforts can be enhanced through improved, multi-mandate observation practices.
Focusing on three case studies in Africa, this book analyzes the utility of diplomacy in preventing election violence. After defining and identifying the key dimensions of preventive diplomacy to prevent or reduce election violence, it looks at presidential elections between 2006 and 2017 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Nigeria. Drawing on personal experience, the literature, case study reviews, and expert interviews and roundtables with academics and practitioners, the book highlights conditions for the success and the failure of preventive diplomacy, offering recommendations to the international community for maximizing the efficacy of this unique tool.
A week and a half after Afghan presidential polls, the results remain unclear. But, we do know that turnout was historically low, largely due to dire security conditions. Meanwhile, with the peace process stalled, USIP’s Scott Worden says the upsurge in U.S. military operations against the Taliban is a “pressure tactic, not a victory strategy.”