Election Dispute Management for West Africa: a Training Manual

A significant driver of political conflicts in West Africa is linked to violence that characterizes elections in the region. A retrospection of elections in most countries of West Africa, presents the absence of strong structural, institutional and normative democratic conditions to absorb and resolve tensions that arise during and after electoral process, which exacerbates violence and disputes. Given their competitive nature, in certain circumstances elections have increased the salience of ethnic, religious, and other societal differences, allowing actors to be mobilized for partisan purposes, triggering violence[1]. To conduct credible violent free elections, requires acceptable set of values that ensures fair electoral practices predicated on representation, accountability, inclusiveness, transparency, gender equality, tolerance and respect for diversity[2]. Thus an effective dispute management system is critical to foster these values and prevent violence or disputed elections in West Africa. This training manual is part of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP)’s contribution to build the capacity of stakeholders in election in West Africa for election dispute management that ensures peaceful elections and stable democratic institutions and practice in the region. It is also in line with WANEP’s complementary role to ECOWAS within the framework of a standing Memorandum of Understanding to coordinate civil society efforts in conflict prevention for West Africa.

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