Electoral Violence in Africa: Experience from Ethiopia
International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 176-201, 2009
Posted: 25 Apr 2010
Date Written: 2009
It is impossible to think about democracy without elections. The litmus test of any electoral process in any country is the possibility of a one time minority to become a majority at another time and a peaceful transition of power. In many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa though the multi-party elections appeared to be competitive they failed the acid test of democracy: peaceful regime change in a free and fair election. Failure to solve electoral disputes might lead to bloody electoral conflicts as witnessed in many emerging democracies in Africa. The aim of this paper is to investigate electoral conflicts in Africa since the end of the Cold War by using the 2005 post-election violence in Ethiopia as a case study. In Ethiopia, the coming to power of the EPRDF in 1991 marked the fall of the Derg dictatorial military government and the beginning of a multi-party democracy. The country held multi-party parliamentary elections in 1995, 2000, and 2005 where the ruling EPRDF party “won” the elections through violence, involving intimidation, manipulation, detentions of political opponents, torture, and political assassinations. The 2005 electoral violence was the worst electoral violence in the country’s political history that led to the death of 193 protestors and the imprisonment of more than 40,000 people. It is found out that the major causes of the 2005 Ethiopian election were the defeat of the ruling party in the election and its attempt to reverse the poll results by force; the Opposition’s lack of decisive leadership; the absence of independent courts and independent electoral management body; and the ruling party’s direct control over the army and police.
Keywords: Africa, Ethiopia, Election, Electoral violence, NEBE
JEL Classification: N47, Z00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation