Maendeleo Policy Forum: Deepening Democracy - Election Management and Stability in Africa’s Divided SocietiesDec 14, 2016
Elections are increasingly becoming the norm across Africa. The number of countries holding elections in the continent has grown exponentially over the last two decades. During 1996–2006, 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 place. The African Union indicates that the continent will have held 31 elections by the end of December 2016. Some 14 countries, including Kenya, are scheduled to hold presidential and general elections in 2017.
Despite the growing number of elections, Africa’s democracy remains fragile and susceptible to the threat of instability and violent conflict.
To ensure electoral stability in Africa, African countries need to have stronger institutional and electoral management systems to manage diversity of the countries more effectively and 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 promote social cohesion and inclusion, creating political legitimacy and effective management of diversity.
“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,” said the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Siddharth Chatterjee.
The sixth Maendeleo Policy Forum was held 14th December in Nairobi, Kenya, and co-hosted by the Africa Policy Institute (API) and UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa. The objective of the Forum was to collate lessons and good practices in election management from past elections in Africa including Kenya. The outputs of the Forum will directly feed into future policy-making and will also be shared with all stakeholders.
“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,” Chief Executive Officer of API, Professor Peter Kagwanja said.
The main speaker of the Forum was Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana.