A Normative Discourse

Elections have become a democratic norm in many African countries since the turn of the 21st century with almost all countries on the continent conducting elections of one form or another. African countries, through the African Union (AU) have demonstrated some commitment towards the holding of elections and it stated emphatically that the AU endeavours to;

“Promote the holding of regular free and fair elections to institutionalize legitimate authority of representative government as well as democratic change of government” (African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance -Article 2:3).

This commitment comes on the backdrop of debilitating deficit of democracy as amplified by Golder and Wantchekon (2004) who point out that;

“there have been only 189 country-years of democracy in Africa, compared to 1823 country-years of dictatorship between 1946 and 2000” (Colomer, 2004).

Although there has been much improvement in democratization in Africa in the last two decades or so, much remains to be accomplished. Though laudable, this consistency in the holding of elections has, however, not been matched with electoral outcomes that are not contested, one way or another. Elections in Africa have consistently had some kind of backlash differing in severity from country to country. In many African countries, elections are consistently tainted with accusations about different forms of electoral impropriety, especially targeted at, and, connected to incumbent governments. It is a matter of regret that although all African countries have embraced elections as the accepted, conventional norm of regime change, elections have actually become the major source of insecurity, instability and peace lessness, with devastating consequences on sustainable development of the continent.

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