Post-Election Violence – A Part of African Politics
Although it is widely assumed to be early days yet there is this hard truth the African politics can simply not do without post-elections violence. Africa is a bit young when it comes to the practicing of democracy but that can no longer be used as an excuse for the various degree of damage done to people and property. At the end of every major election various lives are lost as well as properties worth millions of dollars due to the inability of certain elements within the African society to contain their joy or anger. Those who are declared victorious tend to go a bit far in their celebrations to the point of daring their opponents. On the other hand, those on the losing side also employ various defensive mechanisms that always end up in violent confrontations among members of the major political parties. The violence is even pronounced when an incumbent government loses to the main opposition party.
A clear example can be made from countries like Ghana and Gambia who recently held their general elections to elect a President. What happened in Gambia is nothing to write home about as the whole country was on the verge of being thrown into a civil war. As far as Ghana is concerned, the peaceful West African country has been regarded the beacon of African democracy. Their ability to organise peaceful elections is never in doubt but the tension in the country could almost be cut with a knife at a point in time.
With most countries in Africa taking the bold step of democratically electing their leaders, it seems that it will take a bit longer for the general populace to come to terms with how to play the political game democratically. Even when the whole election process has been rated as peaceful, there are always certain elements within the society who simply cannot stay away from violence. A case in point is the recently held elections in Ghana which had numerous reported cases of post-election violence even to the point that sympathizers of the two main political parties started engaging in violent activities. This is even in Ghana, a country that has been making use of the ballot paper since 1992 so one can guess how the situation might be in those African countries that are not yet matured democratically. The situation now is even worse with the inception of the various social media sites which allows political opponents to post various articles online. This has further fuelled the fire of post-election violence as tempers are raised to a boiling point by these numerous articles which tend to be untrue.
It remains to be seen as to how long it will take Africa to rid itself of post-election violence but the sooner the better.