July 2, 2010, 10:48 a.m.
Incidents of violence during an election cycle can have a destabilizing impact that threatens the legitimacy of the process. Managing election related violence is critical to building a strong, democratic society based on the rule of law, accountability and transparency. The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) has released a policy brief, which offers insights for policymakers regarding strategies to prevent and manage electoral violence. From the report.
Electoral violence has received increasing international attention in recent years due to the devastating effects of outbreaks of violence in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan around elections. The notion of violence-free elections is encapsulated in the term ‘free and fair’ elections, serving as a benchmark for determining the legitimacy of elections. Efforts by local and international actors include electoral assistance, peacekeeping and monitoring missions, civic and voter education. Yet, understanding of the consequences of specific strategies and how their returns can be maximized, remains limited. Analysis for policy needs to take into account the social divisions and potential conflict lines in society. If electoral violence is not addressed it can have longstanding consequences for social cohesion and the legitimacy of democracy.