Election Violence

Rupert Roopnaraine

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Focus Area(s)
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8
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Rupert Roopnaraine
Interviewee's Position
Co-Leader
Interviewee's Organization
Working People's Alliance
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Guyanese
Town/City
Georgetown
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Rupert Roopnaraine discusses his role in the Constitutional Reform Commission in Guyana. He details the challenge of recommending reforms to better balance power in a government that was constitutionally highly centralized on the Office of the President and the difficulty of dealing with a government reflexively resistant to electoral reform. He touches on the question of proportional representation, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the system, why he believes removing the proportional representation system is a necessary first step in reforming the quality of parliamentary conduct and productivity, and why he believes a first-past-the-post system is better for local government. Roopnaraine discusses the commission’s strategies to address high ethnic tensions exacerbated by racialization of political parties and outlines the commission’s success in putting together an Elections Commission that was acceptable to both incumbent and opposition parties. He lays out the events around Guyana’s failed 1997 elections that led to the formation of the Constitutional Reform Commission and political difficulties in Guyana at the time of the interview. He also discusses progress made on the rights of indigenous people, the reasons why many reforms were never fully implemented, and the challenges of putting together new voter registration lists.
 
Profile

Rupert Roopnaraine was a co-leader of the Working People's Alliance in Guyana, a group he joined in 1979. He served as a member of Parliament from 1995 to 2000 and on the Constitutional Reform Commission in 1998.  He also was a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, special select committees on the Integrity Bill and on the Trade Union Bill, and the Public Accounts Committee. He also was a member of the Commonwealth Observer Missions for elections in Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zanzibar. At the time of this interview, he was program director of the Guyana Citizens’ Initiative.  He received his doctorate in comparative literature from Cornell University, and he taught at the University of Guyana, Cornell, and Columbia University in various capacities.

Full Audio File Size
80 MB
Full Audio Title
Rupert Roopnaraine Interview

Using Conflict Management Panels to Resolve Tension in the Second Post-Apartheid Election: South Africa, 1999-2000

Author
Rachel Jackson
Country of Reform
Abstract
In 1994, South Africa's interim electoral commission accomplished a seemingly impossible task: navigating myriad technical and political challenges to hold the country's first post-apartheid election. Although the election ushered in a largely peaceful transition to majority rule, the months that preceded it had been plagued by political tension and violence. As the new and permanent Independent Electoral Commission prepared for the country's second national election, in 1999, it had to contend with the potential for renewed conflict and the weakening of many of the civil society organizations and peace structures the country had relied on in 1994. As part of a broader strategy, the electoral commission created conflict management mediation panels. Working with the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, the commission deployed respected community figures within each province's political hot spots as a way to resolve tensions on the ground. In 2000, for the local government elections, the commission extended the conflict mediation system into the country's 284 municipalities.
 
Rachel Jackson drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in South Africa, in March 2013. Case published July 2013. For a detailed look at South Africa's first post-apartheid election, in 1994, see "Organizing the First Post-Apartheid Elections, South Africa, 1994."

Ransford Gyampo

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2
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Lucas Issacharoff and Daniel Scher
Name
Ransford Gyampo
Interviewee's Position
Professor of Political Science
Interviewee's Organization
University of Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Place (Building/Street)
University of Ghana
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Ransford Gyampo discusses his research on election politics in Ghana.  The interview focuses on the changes to the campaign environment following a 2008 agreement on a code of conduct.  Van Gyampo mentions the impact of two independent institutions on the forging of a campaign agreement.  He also talks about how the enforcement of the agreement was popularly demanded and carried out after the agreement was widely distributed.  He also discusses the relevance of a strong civil service to election reform.     

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

Profile

At the time of this interview, Ransford Gyampo was a professor of political science at the University of Ghana. He conducted extensive research into recent political trends in Ghana and especially into the 2008 election.  He also was an assistant professor at the Governance Center of the Institute of Economic Affairs in Ghana.  He earned a master’s degree in political science and specialized in human rights and government. 

Full Audio File Size
98MB
Full Audio Title
Ransford Van Gyampo Interview

Idrissa Kamara

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Focus Area(s)
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5
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Nealin Parker
Name
Idrissa Kamara
Interviewee's Position
District Electoral Officer
Interviewee's Organization
Bonthe District, Sierra Leone
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Sierra Leonean
Place (Building/Street)
National Election Commission
Town/City
Freetown
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Idrissa Kamara, a district electoral officer in Sierra Leone, begins by identifying his responsibilities at the National Electoral Commission.  He explains that the biggest challenges of the 2007 presidential election were to earn public acceptance of the electoral process and its results.  He stresses the importance of having an independent electoral commission that is not indebted to the government, and he identifies the complications that ensue when funding comes from the government and the international community.  Kamara promotes development of human capacity of administrators and the public, which he notes is cheaper than importing international advisers.  He also supports the inclusion of stakeholders so Sierra Leonean people can take ownership of their elections.  Kamara details important parts of the process of holding Sierra Leonean elections, including delimiting constituencies and allocating seats, hiring and training electoral staff, avoiding violence and voter fraud, registering voters, and processing complaints.  He then ventures into the topic of family voting, laments that people vote for candidates from their home region who speak the same language as they do, and discusses how to sensitize voters and shift the focus towards issues.

Profile

At the time of this interview, Idrissa Kamara worked for the National Electoral Commission in Sierra Leone as the district electoral officer in Bonthe, where he oversaw voter registration, voter education, recruitment and training of staff, and liaising with stakeholders.

Full Audio File Size
65MB
Full Audio Title
Idrissa Kamara Interview

Khabele Matlosa

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4
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Amy Mawson
Name
Khabele Matlosa
Interviewee's Position
Director of Programs
Interviewee's Organization
Electoral Institute of Southern Africa
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Lesotho
Place (Building/Street)
Electoral Institute of Southern Africa
Town/City
Johannesburg
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
In this extensive interview Khabele Matlosa traces Lesotho’s electoral history from its founding election in 1966 through to the country’s controversial 2007 vote. He discusses the unpredictability of Lesotho’s politics, touches on the informal party alliances that dogged the 2007 poll, and outlines the causes of the country’s recurrent electoral violence.
 
Profile

Khabele Matlosa began his studies in Lesotho before pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Leeds in the U.K., and a doctorate at the University of Western Cape in South Africa. He lectured at the University of Lesotho and worked briefly with the South African Regional Institute of Policy Studies in Zimbabwe before taking up his role as director of programs at the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa.

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77 MB
Full Audio Title
Khabele Matlosa Interview

Limakatso Mokhothu

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5
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Amy Mawson
Name
Limakatso Mokhothu
Interviewee's Position
Chairwoman
Interviewee's Organization
Independent Electoral Commission, Lesotho
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Lesotho
Place (Building/Street)
Independent Electoral Commission
Town/City
Maseru
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Limakatso Mokhothu discusses the challenges of organizing Lesotho’s first snap election in 2007.  She highlights the difficulties the Independent Electoral Commission faced due to the short timeframe, weaknesses in the voter registration process, inadequate technological capacity, and the lack of engagement with political parties before the poll.  Mokhothu talks about the disputes that emerged following the election, particularly surrounding informal party alliances, and the political difficulties the commission faced in deciding how to manage the problems that informal party alliances created.  
 
 
Profile

Limakatso Mokhothu was nominated by one of Lesotho’s main political parties to serve as an electoral commissioner in 2003.  She was one of three commissioners who oversaw Lesotho’s controversial 2007 election.  The following year she was appointed chairwoman of the commission.  Before joining the Independent Electoral Commission, Mokhothu worked on governance issues at the Irish consulate in Lesotho.

Full Audio File Size
65MB
Full Audio Title
Limakatso Mokhothu Interview

Tony O'Doherty

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3
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Michael Scharff
Name
Tony O'Doherty
Interviewee's Position
Community Activist and Founder
Interviewee's Organization
Central Drive Community Center
Language
English
Place (Building/Street)
Central Drive Community Center
Town/City
Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Tony O’Doherty discusses his role in helping forge a solution to persistent electoral violence in Northern Ireland’s second-largest city, Derry/Londonderry.  He paints a vivid picture of what violence once looked like on Election Day, when Catholic nationalists unleashed a wave of gasoline bombs and threw stones at the predominately Protestant-linked police who were stationed at polling places to provide security and transport ballot boxes.  O’Doherty talks about how a locally sourced solution that involved private dialogues between the nationalist political party, Sinn Féin, and the police force, all but eliminated violence in subsequent elections.     

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

Profile

At the time of the interview, Tony O’Doherty was a community activist in Londonderry/Derry, Northern Ireland.  For years, he played a key role in helping limit clashes between Catholic nationalists and the Protestant-linked police on Election Day.  He was one of the founders of the Central Drive Community Center, which provides social services to residents of the impoverished Creggan Estate housing project.  Before becoming involved in community activism, O’Doherty was a professional soccer player with various clubs in Northern Ireland and at the international level.     

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48MB
Full Audio Title
Tony O'Doherty Interview

Khalfan H. Khalfan

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2
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Khalfan H. Khalfan
Interviewee's Position
Executive Director
Interviewee's Organization
Organization of People with Disabilities
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Tanzania
Town/City
Zanzibar
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Khalfan H. Khalfan, executive director of the Organization of People with Disabilities, talks about his and others' efforts in Zanzibar to enfranchise disabled people.  He addresses the challenges involved in ensuring disabled people can exercise their right to vote and explains the particular difficulties disabled people face in accessing polling stations, casting their votes in private, and avoiding election violence.  He also speaks briefly about his role as an election observer in Zanzibar’s first multiparty election in 1995 and some of the irregularities he noted during that election.

Profile

At the time of this interview, Khalfan H. Khalfan was executive director of the Organization of People with Disabilities, an advocacy group that he founded in 1985 in his native Zanzibar.  He became involved in disabled-rights activism after traveling to Singapore to attend a meeting for the disabled in 1981, the International Year of Disabled People.  Khalfan also founded the Eastern African Federation of the Disabled.  He was a member of the World Council of Disabled People International for more than 20 years, an elected vice chair for development and underrepresented groups of Disabled People International from 2002 to 2007, and chairperson of the Pan African Federation of the Disabled for 12 years.  Prior to his activism on behalf of rights for the disabled, he worked as a secondary-school teacher for almost 20 years.  He died in March 2009.

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50 MB
Full Audio Title
Khalfan H. Khalfan - Full Interview

Barney O'Hagan

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3
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Michael Scharff
Name
Barney O'Hagan
Interviewee's Position
Former Councillor
Interviewee's Organization
Derry City Council
Language
English
Town/City
Derry City, Northern Ireland
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Barney O’Hagan discusses his role as a politician and community leader in Derry, Northern Ireland, in particular his involvement in and reflections about the first peaceful elections witnessed in Derry in memory. He describes the idea of removing police presence from the polling stations as integral to ending election-related violence. O'Hagan highlights the role of Sinn Fein, the political party with which he is affiliated, but he also describes encouraging local, a-political leaders to to promote the removal of police personnel from polling stations in order to give the proposal greater legitimacy. O'Hagan's account of the history of The Troubles in Northern Ireland and the evolution of the situation in Derry, particularly following the Good Friday Peace Agreement, provides context within which dampening election violence can be studied.

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

Profile

Barney O’Hagan is a former councillor from Derry, Ireland with the Sinn Fein political party.  O'Hagan was first elected in 1998, soon after his release from prison.  His release was prompted by the signing of the Good Friday Peace Agreement.

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103 MB
Full Audio Title
Barney O'Hagan Interview

Humayun Kabir

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Focus Area(s)
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3
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Humayun Kabir
Interviewee's Position
Secretary of the Election Commission Secretariat
Interviewee's Organization
Bangladesh Election Commission
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Bangladeshi
Town/City
Dhaka
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Humayun Kabir, a secretary at the Bangladesh Election Commission Secretariat, shares his experience in the 2008 Bangladeshi election.  He talks about many aspects of the electoral process and how the newly constituted Election Commission dealt with them between February 2007 and December 2008.  He details the voter-registration and boundary-delimitation processes and the multiple challenges the commission faced in accomplishing these tasks.  He also highlights successful innovations such as the photographic voter registry and the use of transparent ballot boxes, which he credits with limiting post-election violence in 2008.

Profile

At the time of this interview, Humayun Kabir was a secretary of the Bangladesh Election Commission Secretariat.  He joined the commission in 2007, shortly after it had undergone a significant restructuring exercise in response to the postponement of the 2007 Bangladeshi election.  Prior to joining the Election Commission he was the managing director of the national insurance corporation, Sadharan Bima Corp.  He also worked as joint secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, as deputy secretary of the Cabinet and in various capacities at other Bangladeshi ministries.

Full Audio File Size
39.2MB
Full Audio Title
Humayun Kabir- Full Interview