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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs