By David Harris
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Extra resources for Civil War and democracy in West Africa : conflict resolution, elections and justice in Sierra Leone and Liberia
The constitutional modelling of Museveni in the late 1980s and of Ibrahim Babangida in early 1990s Nigeria, acknowledged, notwithstanding some less benevolent reasons for their actions, the powerful influence of ethnicity on electoral choice. There are indeed cross-cutting appeals to the electorate that affect patterns of voting based on identity politics. Nationalism, class, urbanrural divisions and age may all play major supporting roles. 73 Robert Mugabe has positioned himself as a protector of ‘African values’ against homosexuality and the arrogant attitudes of white Zimbabweans and the West.
If there is no peace, then there will certainly be no further consolidation of democracy or government. This then raises the issue of the transformation of predominantly military rebel forces into political parties. The range of electoral candidates and hence in many circumstances the results and the possibility of stability are at stake. There have been relative successes, where a rebel force has been transformed into a political machine that has, in electoral terms, mobilised a constituency, and there have been outright failures where the political wing has collapsed.
First, there is the contention that for cultural or structural socioeconomic reasons, there is currently little hope of electoral democracy being consolidated on the continent in the near future. 63 Although much of this work is based on considered analysis of the development of democracy in many states, it is the development of one strand of democracy that has proliferated in the Western world under scrutiny in such texts. 64 Citing the examples of the Newly Industrialised Countries (NIC) in Southeast Asia, some argue that strong undemocratic governments, isolated from societal demands and committed to development, have successfully led these states into relative prosperity.
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