Electoral violence in Africa: a case study of Uganda 1996-2011
The process of elections should be free and fair for people to trust formation of legitimate government. However, a situation where elections are not free and fair is indicative of lack of or poor democracy, and is a recipe for Electoral violence (EV). This has been witnessed in many African countries. This study focuses on Uganda whose history was characterized by periods of political turmoil since independence laid background for undemocratic governments. The study examines the period 1996 -2011 when general elections were organized. This study is guided by the following objectives: to carry out an overview of the state of EV in Africa in general and Uganda in particular; examine its impact and implications on the economic, social and political development in Uganda; and provide implementable solutions to curb Electoral violence in Uganda. Many issues advanced in existing literature as causes of electoral violence are usually mere symptoms, rather than causes of electoral violence in Africa and Uganda in particular. The study finds electoral violence despite its being rampant, to be both a symptom and in other cases a cause the real problem. Electoral violence is indicative of the African crisis as manifested by political instability, economic hardships, poor governance and leadership issues, which in turn determine the manner of politics, weaknesses in institutional framework, and organizational failures in the election processes. These in turn fuel the cycle of violence. Academically, the study is meant to stimulate further consideration of the three broad cause categories above to facilitate the right solutions to the menace of electoral violence in Uganda and Africa in general. The study is also relevant for policy practitioners because it points at the actual problem not being electoral violence, and the other manifestations usually advanced by some literature sources, rather the panacea requires a systemic approach of solving the African crisis, strengthening institutions and other election process supporting agencies like the justice, law and order agencies to galvanize organizational capabilities. The study further recommends governments to address issues related to electoral process like electoral reforms through transparent and all inclusive consensus. African Union and subregional bodies in cooperation with state governments need to establish an effective early warning system to proactively handle issues that may culminate into electoral violence. Africa should expedite the operationalization of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.