Posts Tagged

Africa

Ghana goes to the polls on December 7th. However, for the first time in 24 years, the major stakeholders—including the Electoral Commission (EC) and the leading opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party—could not arrive at a consensus over the electoral rules that will govern the election in 2020. Agreed upon electoral rules have historically been critical towards securing a stable electoral process. Amidst the prevailing dispute on the electoral rules, we argue that a tense political climate is building which, if not well managed, could lead up to violent contestation of the results of the December 2020 elections and, in the process, undermine Ghana’s time-honoured integrity as a beacon of democracy in Africa.  Background on the dispute The dispute over the rules for this year’s election …

In 2016, Uganda’s Presidential election was met with a surge in violence. More than 20 people reportedly died and even more were threatened and beaten in the lead-up to the election. Current Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the country since 1986, captured another term in office through a strategy that relied on intimidation tactics. Voters throughout the country were told that their regions would not receive aid support if they did not vote for Museveni, leading EU and U.S. election monitors to deem that there was “an atmosphere of intimidation” that was “deeply inconsistent with international standards.” In the lead-up to next year’s election, there are again fears of an illegitimate democratic process. Namely, increasing internet suppression may mar the  outcome of the …

Evo Morales, president of Bolivia since 2006, resigned on November 10 following weeks of demonstrations triggered by a disputed election in October. Morales won the election amid allegations that the result was rigged in his favour. The turning point in Morales’s departure from office was the intervention of Williams Kaliman, commander of the Bolivian armed forces. Speaking at a press conference, Kaliman urged Morales to resign “for the good of our Bolivia”. Morales has since gone into exile in Mexico and the manner of his departure has sparked passionate debate about whether it was tantamount to a military coup. Two years ago this month, the Zimbabwean military placed former President Robert Mugabe under house arrest. Subsequently, SB Moyo, a major …

The world is experiencing an ‘environmental crime crisis’. Dwarfed only by the trafficking of drugs, humans and counterfeit goods, the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be the fourth largest type of transnational organised crime. But compared to the smuggling of bullets and bodies, wildlife crime is vastly under-researched. Most people have not even heard of the world’s most trafficked mammal, the humble and far from headline-grabbing pangolin. Yet one area of this booming illicit trade receives more attention than most: poaching for ivory and rhino horn. Driven by growing Asian prosperity, particularly in Vietnam and China, a revived market for ivory and horn has expanded to unprecedented heights for modern times. Accompanying this growth is a narrative which connects …

Democracy in Africa: Successes, Failure and the Struggle for Political Reform testifies to the ability of African states to democratize against the odds. It effectively introduces a framework for understanding how leaders choose to respond to the pressure to liberalise their political systems, covering the recent history of African politics and providing great detail on the return of multiparty politics in Africa since the early 1990s. In this Q&A, Ian Cooper of the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Cambridge interviews Professor Nic Cheeseman, Associate Professor of African Politics, Jesus College, University of Oxford, on his recent publication.

National legislatures too frequently pass legislation limiting freedom and democracy. To change this requires not just training, but also an appeal to the personal incentives of individual MPs. The last few years have not been good to democracy. According to the US think tank Freedom House, 2014 saw a “disturbing decline in global freedom”, with twice as many countries suffering democratic declines as enjoying democratic gains. This problem has not been contained in one region, but has proved to be a much broader phenomenon, from campaigns against media freedom in Egypt and Turkey to homophobic legislation in Africa and sustained conflict in Iraq and Syria. Worryingly, this is the ninth year in a row that a drop in the overall level …

This sentiment is echoed by governments and citizens across the world: Education can help us to better understand the world around us and our place in it, equipping us to push for good social, economic and political change. Higher education across Africa is booming. The number of students enrolled in tertiary education has increased from fewer than 200,000 in 1970 to around 10 million today. Universities in Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda are leading lights from the continent in the 2016 Times Higher Education rankings. But, as thousands of protesting students across South Africa have highlighted over the last ten days, education does not always live up to its promise. Instead, universities can serve to reinforce the inequalities …

Since 1998 I have been carrying out applied research with colleagues and African organisations with survivors of sexual violence and torture. This research argues that sexual violence perpetrated in conflict and post-conflict settings causes devastating effects to individuals as well as whole communities. It results in extensive damage to survivors’ psychological, reproductive and gynaecological health. Ongoing research reveals that more women and girl-children survive conflicts than are killed; yet with tremendous wounds to their bodies and minds; assaults on their dignity, their feelings of self-worth and their future. In contrast, there are rarely consequences for the perpetrators. Applied research carried out in Uganda, Liberia and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo with colleagues and African organisations, argues that sexual violence is not solely a war crime and although extremely prevalent during conflicts, my research argues it has contaminated the post-conflict domestic sphere with high levels of community-perpetrated domestic violence and rape, particularly against young girls. Survivors’ shame and stigma is exacerbated by severe social rejection, particularly for women and girls who become pregnant from rape, former abductees and those with AIDS and HIV infection. Many resultant physical and mental health problems are not treatable by the grossly over-stretched and under-resourced health care systems. Capacity building within primary health care and justice services needs to address psychological trauma, increase resilience and recovery through support groups, trauma counselling and improvement to mental health policies. It is vitally important that service providers (who have also often experienced human rights abuses) are assisted to develop peer support and supervision groups and receive culturally sensitive training in supporting traumatised survivors and their children born from rape. In conjunction with greater protection for their work, and regular salaries this would assist to prevent ‘burn out’.