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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer 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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs