Whether ethnic division, corruption, or debate over constitutional and legislative reform, tensions in East Africa continue to mar elections across the region. Regime changes in recent history brought violent transformation to the area, but today there remain persistent struggles to establish electoral justice. Conditions are ripe for an escalation in violence around the constitutionality of presidential terms, parliamentary reform, divisive tribal politics, and corruption amongst the power elite.
#JustVoteAfrica is a workshop that examines the dynamics involved in achieving regional stability through electoral justice in Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and South Sudan. Using new media tools to communicate and engage, each participant will take on the role of one of these countries. The goal is to apply conflict resolution and management skills and concepts in real time to transform each of these countries as hypothetical scenarios unfold during the exercise.
Register today to participate either in person or online.The workshop will take place at Georgetown University’s Car Barn on November 19th from 3-6pm EST. Virtual participants will be given access through Livestream.
Often referred to as the world’s “newest country,” South Sudan gained its independence on July 9, 2011, following a referendum on whether to break away from Sudan and the Khartoum government. Despite optimism that political autonomy would lead to greater peace and prosperity for the citizens of South Sudan, the new nation continues to suffer […]
Often referred to as the world’s “newest country,” South Sudan gained its independence on July 9, 2011, following a referendum on whether to break away from Sudan and the Khartoum government. Despite optimism that political autonomy would lead to greater peace and prosperity for the citizens of South Sudan, the new nation continues to suffer from political instability and ethnic violence. The latest violence broke out in December 2013 when political divisions between President Salva Kiir (who is from the Dinka ethnic group) and former Vice President Riek Machar (who is of Nuer ethnicity) exacerbated deeply-rooted ethnic tensions, sparking armed clashes, a humanitarian emergency, and the risk of civil war.
By 2013, members of the expanded Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party had accused Kiir of dictatorial tendencies and of allowing regional and ethnic lobbies to inform major party decisions. In response, President Kiir dismissed his entire cabinet in July 2013 and stripped Machar of his Vice Presidency. Kiir accused Machar of an attempted coup, which led to the arrest of several senior political and military figures. Though it is unclear whether Machar had in fact attempted to seize power at that time, by December 18 he was publicly calling for Kiir to be overthrown, and accused him of trying to incite ethnic violence. By December 23, 2013, forces claiming loyalty to the ex-Vice President had taken control of the capitals of Jonglei and Unity States, as well as the oil fields in Unity and Upper Nile States. Since then, more than 10,000 people have been killed and about 1.5 million people have been driven from their homes.
Following almost two years of negotiations, in August 2015 President Kiir signed a peace deal aimed at ending the conflict with the rebels. However, President Kiir told regional African leaders at the ceremony that he still had “serious reservations” about the agreement, leading to doubts about its longevity. The agreement proposed that Kiir would remain president while Machar would again become vice president.
Burundi is a tiny, landlocked nation south of Rwanda, which shares a border with Tanzania to the east and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Burundi is often compared to Rwanda because of similarities in ethnic divisions and histories of violence (i.e. Burundi’s 1972 genocide (of whom by whom), 1993 civil war, […]
Burundi is a tiny, landlocked nation south of Rwanda, which shares a border with Tanzania to the east and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Burundi is often compared to Rwanda because of similarities in ethnic divisions and histories of violence (i.e. Burundi’s 1972 genocide (of whom by whom), 1993 civil war, and the 2014 Gatumba Massacre).
The most recent outbreak of violence occurred in 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunziza declared that he will seek a third presidential term, supported by his party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD). His decision to run for a third term was supported by the Burundian constitutional court, in what was considered to be a controversial ruling by opposition groups such as the Alliance of Democrats for Change. The controversy stemmed from reports, from the opposition that the President’s party had pressured the constitutional court to rule in his favor. This controversy led to the Arusha Peace Agreement, a multilateral agreement, which forbids a candidate from running a third term. Despite the peace agreement, the President and his supporters claim that the agreement only covers direct elections by the people and not by parliament, and that therefore he can still run for President as long as he is elected by parliament. The outcome was further violence between pro- and anti-Nkurunziza factions.
In the wake of the controversy and violence, senior army officer Major General Godefroid Niyombare attempted to oust President Pierre Nkurunziza while he was in Tanzania discussing Burundi’s political crisis. When the President returned from his trip, leaders of the coup attempt were arrested for trying to overthrow him. This political instability led to more violence, which let the East African Community (EAC) to postpone the parliamentary/presidential elections on June 4, 2015. On July 21, 2015, the opposition boycotted the election, and Nkurunziza won the poll with 69.41% of the vote. Since that time, the political crisis has continued
Kenya has been a democracy since 1963 when it attained independence from Britain. But its stability was shattered after the presidential election in December 2007, which led to the worst post-election violence ever witnessed in the region. The violence from December 2007 to February 2008 was triggered by ethnic conflict related to the disputed presidential […]
Kenya has been a democracy since 1963 when it attained independence from Britain. But its stability was shattered after the presidential election in December 2007, which led to the worst post-election violence ever witnessed in the region. The violence from December 2007 to February 2008 was triggered by ethnic conflict related to the disputed presidential election. Kenya has over 70 distinct ethnic groups, with the five largest being Kikuyu (20%), Luhya (14%), Luo (13%), Kalenjin (11%) and Kamba (11%). Since Kenya’s independence, elections historically have been dominated by the political usage of ethnic affiliation, which lead to the exclusion and discrimination of those affiliated with the opposition.
On 30 December 2007, Kenya’s Electoral Commission chairman Samuel Kivuitu declared Mwai Kibaki of the (PNU Party of National Unity – supported by Kikuyu, based in the Central and Eastern Provinces and Nairobi) the winner. Hours later, he was hastily sworn in as President. However, Raila Odinga and the opposition ODM (Orange Democratic Movement – backed by Luo, Luhya and Kalenjin and represented in the Nyanza and Western Provinces and Rift Valley) immediately rejected the results, claiming that the elections had been rigged. The electoral fraud claims were backed up by election monitors from the European Union. The results triggered widespread and systematic violence, resulting in more than 1,000 deaths and the displacement of over 500,000 civilians. Clashes were characterized by ethnically-targeted killings of those aligned with the PNU by ODM members, and counter-attacks similarly killing people in ODM-aligned communities. When the conflict died down, evidence arose suggesting that much of the violence had been premeditated and planned by politicians and community leaders at both the local and national levels. This led the Kenyan Government to hold a national referendum which led to constitutional reforms such as inclusion of a bill of rights, reform of presidential powers and of electoral commissions
As the March 4, 2013 elections approached, international attention turned to Kenya and early steps were taken to maintain the integrity of the election and enhance security. Several organizations dispatched teams to assist with and oversee the March 2013 polls. Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta, emerged as the winner of the process with 50.07% of the votes. The opposition, Raila Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka of the Coalition of Reforms and Democracy, took 42% of the votes. Raila disputed the final election results at the Supreme Court, but the Court ruled 7–0 that the elections were free and fair. Uhuru Kenyatta was therefore sworn in as President on April 9, 2013.
Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda, came to power in 1986 after a protracted five-year war in which 500,000 people are estimated to have died. The cause of the war was Museveni’s rejection of the outcome of the 1980 general elections, in which he was running for the presidency. Uganda has never experienced a peaceful […]
Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda, came to power in 1986 after a protracted five-year war in which 500,000 people are estimated to have died. The cause of the war was Museveni’s rejection of the outcome of the 1980 general elections, in which he was running for the presidency. Uganda has never experienced a peaceful political transfer, save for 1962 when Britain gave Uganda its independence. Each of the eight presidents before Museveni lost power in a military coup. International pressure on Museveni has led to Uganda holding elections in 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011, with Museveni being re-elected each time. The next general election will be held in February 2016.
Over the years, President Museveni’s support has diminished from 75.5% in 1996, 69.4% in 2001, and 59.26% in 2006 to 68.38% in the most recent elections in 2011. According to the opposition, the continued if dwindling support for President Museveni stems from political and electoral corruption. This furthers the divides created by Uganda’s history of war and political instability.
In the current run-up to elections, Museveni faces stiff opposition from a former ally, ex-prime minister Amama Mbabazi, who has since joined opposition groups under the “Democratic Alliance” umbrella. Also in the race is Dr. Kiiza Besigye, a three-time presidential election challenger. As the case is in many African countries, it is not uncommon in Uganda that President Museveni’s challengers are hamstrung by government harassment, especially ahead of elections. To counter growing opposition to his rule, President Museveni has resorted to using the police to impede groups that came to see Mbabazi speak. The tactic of blocking the opposition from holding rallies only deepens the ongoing political crisis.
Register below. A Live Stream link will be emailed to online participants 24 hours prior to the event