Achieving Peace and Democratization in war-torn countries

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In fragile states, elections may pave the way of democratization or escalate the conflict. In this regards what policies should be undertaken to build sustainable peace and democratization post conflicts states?
Credible and competent electoral administration

A competent, credible and independent electoral authority is required in post war states. This administration must be independent vis à vis to the State, the ruling party and political players. The experiences show that the opposition political parties and civil society give little credit to the state administration in the organization of elections, "taking into account the objections raised against the administration of State deemed partisan and seeking to maintain in power the ruling party by fraudulent means.»[1]

A study conducted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) shows that 79 of the 148 electoral systems identified in 1999 established independent electoral commissions. The Independent electoral commission establishment seeks to build trust and confidence between the different actors in the electoral competition. In Ivory Coast, for example, the Independent Electoral Commission IEC controlled by the political players remains a huge mistake. An observer reveals the danger "a commission under the aegis of political players may lead to paralysis and deadlock."[2]
That assertion was verified with the long period of stalemate and deadlock which occurred in response to the election of the President of the Central Committee of the IEC. Indeed, 16 members of the Commission had resigned in protest against the election of the representative of PDCI which they regarded as illegal. This followed the decision of the Minister of Interior (now deceased) Issa Diakité to organize the election, despite the boycott of 16 delegates. Of the 31 members in the Central Committee only 15 were able to take part to the vote. This situation clearly resulted in a lengthy period of stalemate and deadlock.[3] 
An electoral administration must also be competent, it should have knowledge and experience in election management. The lack of expertise in election management may be a source of instability and political turmoil. In Mali, for example, in 1996 the elections had been entrusted to the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, but poorly prepared for electoral polls CENI failed in technical and practical issues. Because of its sensitivity, Post conflict election should be prepared by a competent and credible administration.


Elections indeed are sensitive in fragile states because they can both put an end to the war or trigger violent conflict, chaos and political disorder. Political scientists agree to say that organizing elections in a political environment still volatile may be a deleterious source of tension and escalation of violence[4].

One should know that the post-conflict elections are completely different from those held in a normal situation affirm Tony karbo Matha Mutisi. The delicacy of this stage calls upon avoidance of ill-timing elections. In Bosnia Herzegovina, Liberia, Rwanda and Angola precipitated and ill-timed elections contributed to sharp internal divisions and that undermined the peace process[5].
The elections in fragile societies focus according to Deleepan on four major objectives: First, transferring power to a democratically elected legitimate government, secondly kick-starts democratization process, thirdly, the promotion of reconciliation and the establishment of the foundations of peace.[6]

At the end of our analysis, it is necessary to understand the strategies to resolve post conflict crisis and achieve sustainable peace. Regarding the complexity and the uncertainty of post-conflict elections, political scientists recommend DDR, economic development, political reforms prior to electoral polls. We learn that the focus on DDR prior to elections create a security environment conducive to peaceful and democratic elections. Credible and competent institutions fostering allow political players to compete democratically through the ballot box. The implementation of these principles and policies is the way of war termination and sustainable peace building.


[1] Guié Honoré, ’’Commissions nationales électorales en Afrique de l’ouest’’  Débat-courrier d’Afrique no  n°11, Centre de Recherche et d’Action pour la Paix (CERAP), Abidjan, janvier 2004

[2] Lanciné Sylla, ‘’Les modes de supervision des élections dans le processus de démocratisation des régimes politiques’’, communication au séminaire : Education des jeunes à la culture démocratique, CERAP, Abidjan, 28- 30 Mars 2006

[3] Daniel Ozoukou, ‘’Reflexions on the supervision and organisation of elections  in Côte d’Ivoire, 1990-2000’’ Octobre 2008

[4] Edward Newman ,co-editor of ‘’ The UN Role in Promoting Democracy’’ UNU press,2004

[5] Terrence Lyons ‘’Post-conflict elections : War Termination, Democratization and Demilitarizing politics’’ working paper no         20, February 2002 George M. University, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution

[6] Dileepan S. ’’Election in Post-conflict environment : The Role of International Organizations’’
    Manatt Democracy studies publications  June-July 2004 

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