Election Management Bodies in West Africa

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This report is an in-depth study of electoral commissions in six countries of West Africa �Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone � assessing their contribution in strengthening political participation in the region. As institutions that apply the rules governing elections, electoral management bodies (EMBs) have occupied, over the last two decades, the heart of discussion and practice on the critical question of effective citizen participation in the public affairs of their countries. The way in which they are established and the effectiveness of their operations have continued to preoccupy those who advocate for competitive elections, while reforms to the EMBs have taken centre stage in more general political reforms. Election Management Bodies in West Africa thus responds to the evident need for more knowledge about an institution that occupies a more and more important place in the political process in West Africa. Based on documentary research and detailed interviews in each country, the study provides a comparative analysis which highlights the similarities and differences in the structure and operations of each body, and attempts to establish the reasons for their comparative successes and failures.

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Date de parution 05 septembre 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781920489748
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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E L E C T I O N M A N A G E M E N T B O D I E S I N W E S T A F R I C A 2 011 Election Management Bodies in West Africa
A comparative study of the contribution of electoral commissions to the strengthening of democracy
A review by AfriMAP and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa
2 0 1 1
Election Management Bodies in West Africa
A comparative study of the contribution of electoral commissions to the strengthening of democracy
By Ismaila Madior Fall Mathias Hounkpe Adele L. Jinadu Pascal Kambale
A review by AfriMAP and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa
 Open Society Foundations, second impression, 2012
This publication is available as a pdf on the Open Society Foundations website or the AfriMAP website under a Creative Commons licence that allows copying and distributing the publication, only in its entirety, as long as it is attributed to the Open Society Foundations and used for noncommercial educational or public policy purposes. Photographs may not be used separately from the publication. Published by: Open Society Foundations
ISBN (paperback): 978-1-920489-16-8 ISBN (Ebrary): 978-1-920489-72-4 ISBN (MyiLibrary): 978-1-920489-73-1 ISBN (Adobe PDF digital edition): 978-1-920489-74-8 For more information contact: AfriMAP / Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) PO Box 678 Wits, 2050 Johannesburg, South Africa info@afrimap.org www.afrimap. org Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) BP 008, Dakar-Fann, Dakar, Senegal www.osiwa.org Layout and printing: COMPRESS.dsl, South Africa www.compressdsl.com
Distributed by African Minds 4 Eccleston Place, Somerset West, 7130, South Africa info@africanminds.co.za www.africanminds.co.za
ORDERS: African Books Collective PO Box 721, Oxford OX1 9EN, UK orders@africanbookscollective.com www.africanbookscollective.com
Contents
Preface
1Overview: The contribution of electoral management bodies  to credible elections in West Africa –Pascal KambaleA. Introduction B. Colonial legacy C. Elections and constitutional reforms D. Membership of EMBs and appointment of Electoral Commissioners E. Independence and effectiveness F. Common challenges to electoral management G. Conclusion H. Recommendations
2Benin –Mathias HounkpeA. Summary B. Historical background C. The Autonomous National Electoral Commission (CENA) D. Funding of elections in Benin E. Electoral disputes in Benin F. Critical assessment of the CENA’s performance G. Recommendations
3
Cape Verde –Ismaila Madior FallA. Summary B. Constitutional development, party politics and electoral history C. Election management bodies: Legal and institutional frameworks,  powers and independence D. Funding of elections in Cape Verde E. Electoral disputes in Cape Verde F. A critical assessment of the performance of EMBs in Cape Verde G. Recommendations
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4 Ghana Mathias Hounkpe A. Summary  B. The political development of Ghana  C. The Electoral Commission (EC)  D. Funding of elections in Ghana  E. Electoral disputes in Ghana  F. Critical evaluation of EC performance  G. Recommendations
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Nigeria –Adele JinaduA. Summary B. Constitutional development, party politics and electoral history C. Nigeria’s electoral management body: History, structure and independence D. Funding of elections in Nigeria E. Electoral disputes in Nigeria F. Assessment of electoral governance and process in Nigeria G. Post-1999 debate on electoral governance in Nigeria H. Recommendations
6Senegal –Ismaila Madior Fall A. Summary  B. Constitutional change, party politics and electoral history  C. Status, powers and functioning of EMBs  D. Funding of elections in Senegal  E. Electoral disputes in Senegal  F. A critical assessment of electoral governance in Senegal  G. Recommendations
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Sierra Leone –Adele JinaduA. Summary B. Historical context C. Institutional structures D. Funding of elections in Sierra Leone E. Electoral disputes in Sierra Leone F. A critical assessment of electoral governance in Sierra Leone G. Recommendations
About the authors
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Preface
Electoral management bodies (EMBs) have become a keystone of the process of democ-ratisation in the countries of West Africa. Their composition, mandate and activities have attracted increasing public attention. In some countries, the EMBs and the rules of the electoral game are the focus of passionate interest and debate each time elections come around. In others, the debates around the EMBs are semi-permanent and attract attention even outside the electoral cycle. The lack of a clear understanding of the issues at stake in the design of these bodies has often led to the generation of more heat than light, while leading to proposals that do not address the real challenges at stake. This report thus responds to the evident need for more knowledge about an institution that occupies a more and more important place in the political process in West Africa. It is an in-depth study of EMBs in six countries of West Africa – Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone – based on documentary research and detailed interviews in each country. An introductory chapter, which draws also on a separate study by AfriMAP of election management in Uganda, provides a comparative analysis which highlights the similarities and differences in the structure and operations of each body, and attempts to establish the reasons for their comparative successes and failures. Each of the country’s study explores in detail the extent to which the EMBs fulfil their responsibilities, the degree to which they are independent of the executive, the effective-ness of their performance, and their contribution to the improvement of the quality of elections and consequently the quality of democracy in each country, as well as the systems for adjudicating electoral disputes. The study situates EMBs in their broader context, tak-ing account of their status as a product of the struggle for democracy in each case, their anchorage in the constitutional traditions of each society, their place in the history of politi-cal reform and their interaction with the other institutions of each country. As institutions that apply the rules governing elections, EMBs are at the heart of dis-cussion and practice on the critical question of effective citizen participation in the public affairs of their countries. It is now two decades since EMBs independent of government under various guises first emerged in some countries of the region, or were the subject of serious reforms where they existed already. Since then, the way in which they are estab-lished and the effectiveness of their operations have continued to preoccupy those who
PREFACEv
advocate for competitive elections, while reforms to the EMB have taken centre stage in more general political reforms. The demand – achieved in some cases – by citizens, politi-cal actors and members of the governing class to have the right to oversee the functioning of these bodies is a measure of the critical role that they play in translating into fact the principles of transparency in democratic government. Yet often this oversight goes no fur-ther than the adoption of the formal rules for the composition and mandate of the EMB. The issues that make the real difference to the independence and effectiveness of the EMB, beyond the level of formal guarantees, are left unexamined. As a result, the ordinary citi-zen, and all the other protagonists in the political contest, often have only a limited knowl-edge of the impact that the formal structures of the EMB have or could have on the quality of democracy in the countries concerned. This study thus comes at an opportune moment for discussions of electoral reform. Its aim is to compare theory and practice of electoral management in countries with dif-ferent traditions and political cultures. From this point of view, the study offers an inter-esting overview of the socio-historical, institutional, and political context that allows a deeper understanding of EMBs in the west African context. Thus, the study both provides a detailed account of current situation, opening up the debate on the bodies charged with management of elections in the countries concerned, and also offers to citizens, political actors, governments and international institutions an evaluation of the issues at stake and recommendations for reforms that are necessary. It aims to be a tool to increase under-standing of the institutions and procedures governing elections and to encourage reforms in the management, oversight and credibility of the electoral process, to strengthen election observation, and to improve the management of electoral disputes.
Methodology and acknowledgments The idea of carrying out a critical study of electoral management bodies and to evaluate their role in the organisation of credible elections in West Africa came from a series of consultations carried out from mid-2009 by AfriMAP, the Africa Governance Monitor-ing and Advocacy Project of the Open Society Foundations. In August 2009, AfriMAP co-organised, with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), a consultative work-shop on the elections and the role of civil society in West Africa. We would like to thank the following persons who represented at this meeting the bodies most active in electoral observation and electoral reform in West Africa: Aliyu Ahmadu of the Centre for Democ-racy and Development in Nigeria (CDD-Nigeria), Emmanuel Akwetey of the Institute for Democratic Governance in Ghana (IDEG), and Aboubacry Mbodj of theRencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l’hommein Senegal (RADDHO), as well as Achieng Akena and Ibrahima Kane, both of the AU advocacy programme of the Open Society Foundations. This meeting noted that despite their differences in political traditions the countries of the west African sub-region shared many similar challenges in relation to the holding of credible elections. Participants at the meeting noted that among the characteristics
vi ELECTION MANAGEMENT BODIES IN WEST AFRICA
of elections in West Africa is the weakness of the institutional framework for their organisation, their vulnerability to open or hidden interference from political actors or the executive, and the inability to take action against electoral malpractice. The meeting concluded that a systematic study of the institutional framework for the organisation of elections in comparative perspective would allow an examination of the reasons for these weaknesses and give decision-makers and activists a tool for reform of electoral practice based on reliable research. Drawing on the recommendations of this consultative meeting, in October 2009 Afri-MAP organised a further consultation aimed at developing a methodological framework for a comparative study of Electoral Commissions in the sub-region. In addition to the authors of this volume, the meeting also benefited from the participation of the following persons, whom we thank for their contribution: Hawa Ba, Senegal programme officer at OSIWA; Idiatou Bah, political governance programme officer at OSIWA; Maurice Enguéléguélé, programme coordinator of the African Governance Institute (AGI); Kango Lare-Lantone, consultant and former adviser to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on governance reform; Bernard Lututala, deputy executive secretary of CODESRIA; George Nzongola-Ntalaja, interim executive director of AGI; and Ebrima Sall, executive secretary of CODESRIA. Individual country research for the study was carried out by the named researchers on the basis of documentary research and one or more field trips to the country concerned, in late 2009 or the first half of 2010. In each country, the researchers interviewed leading play-ers in the management of elections, including representatives of the electoral management bodies, political parties and civil society. At least one focus group was also organised where a variety of players discussed the challenges of election management in their country. The information presented in this report aims to be up to date as of late 2010. None of these meetings could have been organised without the help of Yaye Helene Ndiaye, administrative assistant to AfriMAP, who also gave important support for the field research for this study by programming and coordinating the visits of the authors to the various countries. Hawa Ba and Idiatou Bah have read and commented on several chapters of the studies. Bronwen Manby, senior programme adviser with AfriMAP, has read and commented on the complete study and made a substantial contribution to its final version. The study was led and finalised under the editorial direction of Pascal Kambale, deputy director of AfriMAP.
PREFACEvii
1
Overview: The contribution of electoral management bodies to credible elections in West Africa
Pascal Kambale
A. Introduction Electoral competition has progressively come to occupy a central place in the political life of almost all the countries of the west African sub-region since the beginning of what has been called the ‘second wave of democratisation’ at the beginning of the 1990s. The Pro-tocol on Democracy and Good Governance adopted by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 2001 states that among the principles to ‘be declared as con-stitutional principles shared by all Member States’ is that ‘Every accession to power must be made through free, fair and transparent elections’ (Article 1[b]). It also provides that ‘The bodies responsible for organising the elections shall be independent or neutral and shall have the confidence of all the political actors’ (Article 3). Among the reforms introduced in the last 20 years to consolidate the (re)nascent practice of democracy, those aiming at improving electoral management have both led the way and attracted the most passionate debates. One of the general traits of the reforms introduced in this area in the countries studied have been efforts to reinforce or initiate mechanisms to separate, even insulate, electoral management from the normal administrative responsibilities of the executive. The direct consequence has been the creation of electoral management bodies (EMBs)
OVERVIEW1