dispute resolution

Mediating Election Conflict in a Bruised Society: Code of Conduct Monitoring Committees in Post-War Sierra Leone, 2006-2012

Author
Rachel Jackson
Country of Reform
Abstract

Sierra Leone's contentious 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections threatened to spark violent conflicts across a country just recovering from brutal civil war. To promote peace, the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC)-which had a constitutional mandate to regulate and monitor political parties to ensure their compliance with electoral laws-used national and district code-monitoring committees to encourage adherence to the electoral code of conduct and to mediate conflicts. The committees served as a dispute resolution mechanism and as an important early warning system to identify electoral violence. Partly because of those measures, the 2007 national elections and the 2008 local council elections were largely peaceful despite pessimistic early warning reports. As the 2012 elections approached, the PPRC restructured the committees to include traditional leaders in order to strengthen the committees' capacity to mediate local conflicts. The restructuring enabled the committees to address electoral conflicts more effectively across Sierra Leone.

Rachel Jackson drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Sierra Leone, in February 2013. Case published July 2013.

Associated Interview(s):  Dr. Clever NyathiMagnus Öhman

Charles O'Donnell

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Focus Area(s)
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2
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Michael Scharff
Name
Charles O'Donnell
Interviewee's Position
Former Principal of Holy Childs Primary School
Language
English
Town/City
Derry
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

In this interview Mr. O’Donnell talks about his role as principal of a school used as a polling place. Mr. O’Donnell discusses his accepted role as a leader in the community and his apolitical efforts to decrease election violence. He describes the use of local resources and personal connections as a means of easing mobs and reducing damage. Mr. O’Donnell also provides is own analysis on why violence decreased when it did and what is to come in the future for Ireland.Mr. Charles O’Donnell was the principal of Holy Child Primary School in Creggan, Northern Ireland from 1990 to 2008. Mr. O’Donnell has a teaching certification and taught in another Creggan school, St. John’s, for the first part of his career. In his role as principal of Holy Child, Mr. O’Donnell assumed leadership in the community and after his school was selected as a polling place, was active in elections. At the time of the interview, he was retired and living in Creggan.

Case Study:  Breaking the Cycle of Violence: Elections in Northern Ireland, 2005

Profile

Mr. Charles O’Donnell was the principal of Holy Child Primary School in Creggan, Northern Ireland from 1990 to 2008. Mr. O’Donnell has a teaching certification and taught in another Creggan school, St. John’s, for the first part of his career. In his role as principal of Holy Child, Mr. O’Donnell assumed leadership in the community and after his school was selected as a polling place, was active in elections. At the time of the interview, he was retired and living in Creggan.

Victoria Stewart-Jolley

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14
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Nealin Parker
Name
Victoria Stewart-Jolley
Interviewee's Position
Legal Adviser
Interviewee's Organization
United Nations Development Programme Electoral Assistance Team, Sierra Leone
Language
English
Town/City
Freetown
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Victoria Stewart-Jolley discusses electoral management and electoral law and procedures in Sierra Leone in 2007 and 2008. She analyzes the significance of choice of electoral system, including simple plurality, proportional representation, and block representations, especially in post-conflict states; and she discusses the Constitution of Sierra Leone with regard to election law. Stewart-Jolley speaks about the process for legislating operational procedures, the various challenges faced by the National Electoral Commission in this regard, and the outcomes of these enactments. She considers the nature and functioning of the commission, and discusses the tradeoffs between independence, transparency and political concerns that an electoral management body faces. She reflects upon issues relating to resolving electoral disputes, and the repercussions of various strategies on confidence building in post-conflict countries. Stewart-Jolley also touches upon Sierra Leone’s efforts to enfranchise marginalized demographic groups, and to represent them in government. Finally, she reflects on the role that international organizations play in domestic electoral matters, and the balance that they must strike between offering advice and implementation.
Profile

At the time of this interview, Victoria Stewart-Jolley was a legal adviser for the United Nations Development Programme's Electoral Assistance Team in Sierra Leone, a position that she had held since March 2007. She worked during the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections as well as the 2008 local elections to create legal frameworks for electoral management. Prior to working in Sierra Leone, she was a lawyer for the Electoral Complaints Commission in Afghanistan. Stewart-Jolley also worked in international criminal law in Timor-Leste, and in World Trade Organization law in Indonesia. She holds a law degree and has a background in international public law and constitutional law.

Full Audio File Size
61MB
Full Audio Title
Victoria Stewart-Jolley Interview

Abubakarr Koroma

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8
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Nealin Parker
Name
Abubakarr Koroma
Place (Building/Street)
National Elections Commission
Town/City
Freetown
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Abubakarr Koroma explains the role of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) in 2008 local government elections in Sierra Leone.  Koroma offers insight into the process of recruiting staff members to fill NEC officer posts, detailing the measures taken toward attaining nonpartisan recruitment. He explains how United Nations officers worked alongside local officers to ensure that all aspects of the election were adequately staffed, from the early stages of registration through polling day. He discusses the commission’s collaboration with civil society organizations in monitoring trained staff members, as well as the role of the police in protecting workers’ safety during campaigning and at the polls.  He details the widespread use of radio and cellphones by both the NEC and the political parties during the campaign period in voter education.  He also explains how third-party mediation and public condemnation of deviant behavior effectively dealt with election disputes.  Finally, he addresses the steps taken by the NEC and other organizations to reach out to marginalized voters such as women and rural residents, and sheds light on what the elections may mean for the development of democracy in Sierra Leone.   

Profile

At the time of this interview Abubakarr Koroma was the senior elections officer in southern Sierra Leone as well as a district electoral officer for Bo district.  He previously served as an assistant elections officer in Tonkolili in northern Sierra Leone and a district electoral officer in the Pujehun region of the country.  Through these positions he gained extensive experience working on staff recruitment and training as well as maintaining election security and resolving election disputes.  He was involved in the production of a voter education manual for the 2008 local government elections, regularly appeared on radio talk shows aimed at educating voters, and served as coordinator of the Independent Monitoring Team. In 2010, he organized a training session on electoral administration and communication skills at the Institute of Electoral Administration and Civic Education in Freetown. 

Full Audio File Size
18 MB
Full Audio Title
Abubakarr Koroma Interview

Kwesi Jonah

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1
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
Kwesi Jonah
Interviewee's Position
Research Fellow
Interviewee's Organization
Institute for Democratic Governance
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Kwesi Jonah discusses electoral politics and administration in Ghana. He discusses the choice of electoral system in Ghana, and its relevance to the political climate and culture. He discusses more specifically electoral law and the role of the Election Commission of Ghana (EC) and the judiciary in ensuring fair elections in Ghana. He discusses measures to ensure independence of the EC, including budgetary independence, transparency, media relations, diversity and the role of political parties as advisory, but not decision-making, adjuncts to the EC. Jonah further reflects upon the elections administration in Ghana, speaking about voter registration, voter education, voter identification, monitoring, fraud-prevention and dispute resolution. He reflects upon the role of international donors, Ghanaian nongovernmental organizations and the media in the electoral process. Finally, he considers the challenges faced by Ghana, including election violence, rejected ballots due to insufficient voter education, geographic challenges, bureaucratic hurdles, the representation of minorities, voter fraud and the enforcement of electoral laws.
Profile

At the time of the interview, Kwesi Jonah, who holds a doctoral degree, was head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Ghana, Legon, and was also a research fellow at the Institute for Democratic Governance in Accra, Ghana. He has worked on several other projects related to governance.

Full Audio File Size
99 MB
Full Audio Title
Kwesi Jonah -Full Interview

Shri Baijayant Jay Panda

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3
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rushda Majeed
Name
Shri Baijayant Jay Panda
Interviewee's Position
Member, Lok Sabha
Interviewee's Organization
Lower House, Indian Parliament
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Indian
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Jay Panda offers the perspective of a political party member on the work of the Elections Commission of India and its model code of conduct. He underscores the role of the Elections Commission in shaping perceptions of Indian democracy over the last two decades. Furthermore, Panda credits the model code of conduct for enhancing the credibility of the Elections Commission and its capacity for enforcement, contributing to its considerable institutional legitimacy. While he acknowledges that the code plays an important role in the conduct of fair elections and norm-building, he believes it imposes excessive logistical constraints. These constraints obey a specific logic. For instance, potential distortions arising from use of the code by incumbents to reduce contestation are prevented by subordinating the administrative apparatus to the Elections Commission in advance of elections. However, the regulations can be burdensome for the conduct of normal state affairs, including in the wake of natural disasters. In general, the party mobilizes through legal channels to appeal decisions that affect its candidates. Panda underscores the role of vigilance by opposing parties and rapid media coverage in securing compliance. As a result, implementation of the code at the party-level may require specialized staffers tasked with monitoring adherence to the code. This step is in agreement with the good governance platform of Panda's party, but may represent a more general trend due to the perceived considerable enforcement power of the Elections Commission. 

Case Study:  Implementing Standards without the Force of Law: India's Electoral Code, 1990-2001

Profile

Trained in engineering and management at Michigan Technological University, Shri Baijayant "Jay" Panda returned to India to run his family's company. That experience in the private sector motivated him to affect change by entering the political life. He is one of the founding members of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) party. He served in the Upper House of the Indian Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, for nine years. He is currently the representative for the constituency of Kendrapara (Orissa) in the lower house, the Lok Sabha. 

Full Audio File Size
30 MB
Full Audio Title
Jay Panda Interview

Kwadwo Afari-Gyan

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8
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
Kwadwo Afari-Gyan
Interviewee's Position
Chairman
Interviewee's Organization
Electoral Commission of Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
In this interview, Kwadwo Afari-Gyan explains the role of the Electoral Commission of Ghana in overseeing all public elections and referendums. He discusses the myriad responsibilities of the commission, including educating voters on the importance of participation and registering political parties and voters. He talks about the challenges of administering trustworthy elections in a country where improvements to voter registration, among other processes, are relatively new. He highlights the need for security measures to guard against fraud, and he details the creation of an Inter-Party Advisory Committee as a forum for the political parties to meet with the commission to discuss all aspects of the electoral process. 
 
Profile

At the time of this interview, Kwadwo Afari-Gyan was the chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana. He was instrumental in overseeing all aspects of the commission's activities, including the formation of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee, a forum for political parties to meet with the commission to discuss changes in electoral rules and procedures. He joined the commission in 1992 as the deputy chairman of elections and took up the chairmanship the following year. Prior to his work with the commission, he was a professor at the University of Ghana, Legon, and before that he taught at Santa Clara University in the U.S.  He graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara. 

Full Audio File Size
71 MB
Full Audio Title
Kwadwo Afari-Gyan - Full Interview

Humphrey Assisi Asobie

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3
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Tumi Magketla
Name
Humphrey Assisi Asobie
Interviewee's Position
Head
Interviewee's Organization
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Nigerian
Town/City
Abuja
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
In this interview, Professor Humphrey Assisi Asobie recounts his experiences working for the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to increase transparency within the Nigerian government and its service industries through the increased involvement of civil society organizations. He goes into detail about the challenges he initially faced in his role, including recruitment issues, maintaining a strong moral compass, increasing capacity to undertake the work, countering the culture of secrecy amongst the bureaucracy, and finances. Asobie provides step-by-step guides as to how he tried to address these issues, and how he ensured the ideas were favorably received. He also talks about his efforts to build support for the reform initiatives to help move the reform process along, and the role of NGOs, civil society, and the public. He addresses questions regarding the purpose of transparency initiatives, and how to engage civil society not only in the initiatives, but also in using the information provided. He also emphasizes the need to conduct reform efforts against corruption from the ground up in order to establish a base from which to attack those higher up the ladder. Throughout the interview Asobie is candid about what strategies worked, what strategies did not work, and the lessons learned from the process.
Profile

 At the time of this interview, Professor Humphrey Assisi Asobie was head of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) for Nigeria. He has been involved in the program since 2004 as the head of Transparency in Nigeria, representing civil society at EITI. Prior to his role at EITI, he was President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities in Nigeria as well as Vice President and subsequently President of Transparency Nigeria. Upon his appointment as Chairman of EITI in Nigeria in 2008, he stopped being a representative of civil society and began representing Nigeria. 

Full Audio File Size
113 MB
Full Audio Title
Humphrey Asobie - Full Interview

Vincent Crabbe

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10
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
Vincent Crabbe
Interviewee's Position
Co-Chairman
Interviewee's Organization
Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

In this interview, Vincent Crabbe discusses his experience confronting the many challenges of ensuring transparency in the conduct of elections. One of the chief obstacles to transparent elections is the compilation of a reliable voter registry. For instance, in the absence of birth certificates and other forms of identification, he notes the difficulty of ascertaining whether a voter is of legal voting age. Other obstacles to compiling the lists include the fact that multiple individuals have the same name. Crabbe explains key reforms to Ghana’s elections process that he believes are transferrable to other countries, including see-through ballot boxes and counting ballots at polling stations to reduce the likelihood of tampering with while en route to counting centers. Finally, Crabbe sheds light on what he believes are the key attributes required for an electoral commissioner.   

Case Study:  Keeping the Peace in a Tense Election: Ghana, 2008

Profile

At the time of this interview, Vincent Crabbe was the co-chairman of the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers, which monitored all aspects of public elections in Ghana. Decades earlier, Crabbe established the country’s Electoral Commission. In 1968, he was appointed interim electoral commissioner. In this role, he oversaw the 1969 democratic elections that brought an end to military rule. Crabbe's status as interim electoral commissioner was equivalent to that of a judge on the Court of Appeals. He also served as the chairman of the Constituent Assembly for the drafting of Ghana's 1979 Constitution, as parliamentary counsel and constitutional adviser to the Ugandan government, and as director of the Commonwealth Secretariat Scheme for Legislative Draftsmen for the West, East, Southern and Central Africa Regions and the Caribbean Region. He also drafted the Guiding Principles for UNESCO in the field of Education, Scientific and Cultural Exchanges. He taught at the International Law Development Centre in Rome, Italy, and was a professor of legislative drafting at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.

Full Audio File Size
82 MB
Full Audio Title
Vincet Crabbe - Full Interview

Eric Kamwi

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Y
Focus Area(s)
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9
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rachel Jackson
Name
Eric Kamwi
Interviewee's Position
Commission Secretary
Interviewee's Organization
Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ)
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Zambian
Place (Building/Street)
Electoral Commission Building
Town/City
Lusaka
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Eric Kamwi, the Commission Secretary for the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), describes the role of the ECZ in monitoring elections and providing forums for dispute resolution. To decrease the likelihood of violence during the 2001 elections, Zambia began to use Conflict Management Committees. These committees require the training of conflict managers who travel to districts and resolve challenges on the ground. They deal with issues ranging from bribery and vote buying to disputes over campaign posters and flags. Despite the overall success of the system, including the resolution of over 70 cases in 2006, Kamwi acknowledges that there is room for improvement. For example, the committees are seasonal and exist only during elections, requiring the retraining of personnel every five years. Additionally, even though the committees have the funding and the power to expose government violations of the electoral code of conduct, this has not deterred the ruling party from violating the code. Yet another challenge is ensuring that the quality of training within each district is of equally high quality. Each district receives the same training material and the same length of training, but varying levels of trainer ability lead to different outcomes. Kamwi concludes the interview by championing the Conflict Management Committee model and encouraging other states like Namibia, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to adopt it. He has high praise for the committees and hopes that conflict management becomes its own division within the ECZ in the near future. 
 
Profile

At the time of this interview, Eric Kamwi was the Commission Secretary for the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ). He joined the ECZ in 2001 as Assistant Legal Counsel and worked his way up to the position of Commission Secretary in 2010 and head of the legal department as well. Kamwi’s responsibilities as Commission Secretary included convening meetings, recording information from those meetings, and providing general legal advice concerning elections. Before working for the ECZ, Kamwi practiced law with a private firm.     

Full Audio File Size
49 MB
Full Audio Title
Eric Kamwi Interview