News / Africa

Power-Sharing Governments in Africa Face Limitations

A recent trend to stop cycles of violence in Africa has been to institute national unity power-sharing governments. Current examples include Ivory Coast, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Sudan and Kenya. VOA's Nico Colombant asked several Africa experts in the United States if they believe these work, and if they have examples of what might work better.

Deadly protests have been frequent in divided Ivory Coast despite a power-sharing government
Deadly protests have been frequent in divided Ivory Coast despite a power-sharing government

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo recently dissolved a power-sharing government over a dispute about electoral rolls.

The question of who should vote still divides the West African nation into a government-run south and a rebel-held north, eight years after fighting erupted.

African experts agree power-sharing governments have been extremely challenging.  But David Shinn a former U.S ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia says they are still the right approach to end bloodshed.

"The power-sharing arrangements are very difficult to implement in the African context or any context for that matter and there just are not too many cases where they have actually worked, but even having said that, I would still urge that they be tried," he said.

Other experts, though, like Mark Davidheiser who specializes in peace in African studies, view them more as a band-aid which do not address the causes of a conflict.  He says they can also worsen corruption.

"The problem is often the rebellious leaders or the insurgency leaders who are then brought into the government, they can be sort of bought off and co-opted into the ruling elite, so that they no longer aspire to serve the will of their people and to help their constituencies, the people they are representing, so that again the seeds of the conflict or the forces animating the conflict, issues behind it, remain intact," he said.

Boston University African Studies Center Director Timothy Longman said opposition members are also often blamed in a power-sharing setting when things go wrong.

"What is actually a stronger answer is to guarantee that the opposition has rights, so that if you want to criticize the government, you are free to do so without being harassed, if you want to publish a newspaper that is critical of the government, you should be able to do that without being harassed, if you want to organize a party, you should be able to do that without being harassed," said Longman.

"And what is very important as well is to make sure that elections are actually free and fair, the reason that we end up with these coalitions is usually because someone has stolen an election," he added.

Longman points to another solution which was tried in post-conflict, ethnically divided, Burundi.

"They set up a system that guarantees both Tutsis and Hutus a certain percentage of the senate, and of the military and of the Cabinet, and then they guarantee some extra seats for the Twa, the smallest ethnic group in the country as well," he said.

Longman says he has been surprised at the results, even if there continue to be sometimes dangerous divisions within Burundi's army.

"The level of ethnic tension in Burundi has really diminished markedly.  Now, this is different than a coalition government because it is a government that has free and fair elections but within certain limitations, within certain parameters, that say that we are going to take identity into account when we figure the final results," said Longman.

"That seems to me to be a better option because what has happened in Burundi is now you have got major competition between different Hutu groups who are vying for those positions that are reserved for Hutus, and you have competition between some of the Tutsi groups who are vying for the positions within Tutsis so you get a much more competitive system and I think that is much healthier for the political process," Longman said.

Countries with power-sharing arrangements hoping to help normalize their volatile situations with scheduled elections this year include Sudan, Guinea, Madagascar and Ivory Coast, although delays are possible.  

Starting in May, Burundi is scheduled to begin a series of local, legislative and presidential polls.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs