How well can African elections work?

September 8, 2008

By the standards of other recent African elections, the aftermath of Angola’s parliamentary ballot at the weekend has been fairly tame.

But polling station chaos that led to an extra day of voting and accusations of cheating from the opposition badly undermined Angola’s hope that the ballot would set a example for the continent after elections in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

angolans-queue-to-vote.jpg

The picture of organisational confusion and cries of foul at Angola’s first election in 16 years, the first since the end of its civil war, were all too familiar in Africa.

It is now almost two decades since African states, facing popular calls for change and under donor pressure, started to adopt multiparty democracy.

Nobody could pretend that elections are perfect in the rest of the world, but the same problems and complaints seem to surface repeatedly in Africa.

Does multiparty democracy make sense in Africa? Is it the least bad option or might there be an alternative?

Later this year Zambia and Ghana both have elections. Both are countries where there has been a peaceful, democratic transfer of power in the past. Both are also among the countries most keenly watched by investors.

Can we expect them to set an example now?

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Botswana has had peaceful elections and transfare of power for over 40yrs!!!!