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Election Management Bodies in East Africa

Published Date: February 29, 2016

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244 x 170 mm


The management of elections is increasingly generating impassioned debate in these East African nations – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The bodies that manage and conduct elections are, therefore, coming under intense citizen and stakeholder scrutiny for the manner in which they are composed, how they organise and perform their mandates, and the outcomes they achieve.

The effectiveness of electoral management bodies (EMBs) has largely been influenced by the impact of political violence on election management reforms in East Africa. Even in countries where EMBs are the products of reforms initiated in the aftermath of violent disputes over elections, they still face enormous challenges in dealing with electoral disputes and anticipating election-related crises. Although changes to constitutions and the laws in these countries have sought to make EMBs independent and, therefore, more inclined to deliver free, fair and credible elections, there are many issues that determine their impartiality and their ability to allow for the aggregation and free expression of the will of the people. These shortcomings negatively impact on democracy.

This volume assembles case studies on the capacity of EMBs in these five East African countries to deliver democratic and transparent elections.



List of tables and figures v

List of boxes vi

Abbreviations and acronyms vii

Preface xiii

Introduction xvii


1 Overview 1

A. Introduction 1

B. Models of EMBs 2

C. Colonial legacy 5

D. Violence and election management reforms 5

E. Membership of EMBs and the appointment of commissioners 6

F. Independence and effectiveness 8

G. Common challenges to electoral management 9

H. EMBs and the East African Community 11

I. Conclusion 12

J. Options for reforming electoral management 12


2 BurundiEugène Ntaganda 17

A. Summary 17

B. Historical and political context 20

C. The National Independent Electoral Commission 29

D. Funding of elections 42

E. Management of electoral disputes 45

F. A critical assessment of election management in Burundi 50

G. Pre-2015 debate on electoral reform 62

H. Recommendations 64


3 KenyaFrancis A. Aywa 67

A. Summary 67

B. Political development and electoral history 68

C. Evolution of election management reforms 72

D. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission 78

E. Election observation and monitoring 107

F. Funding of elections 108

G. Management of electoral disputes 110

H. A critical assessment of election management in Kenya 113

I. Recommendations 120


4 RwandaPatrick Osodo 126

A. Summary 126

B. History and politics of elections 128

C. Legal framework for elections in post-genocide Rwanda 143

D. The National Electoral Commission 156

E. Funding of elections 173

F. Management of electoral disputes 176

G. A critical assessment of election management in Rwanda 179

H. Electoral management and the debate on democratic reforms 193

I. Recommendations 194


5 TanzaniaAlexander B. Makulilo 197

A. Summary 197

B. Political history 199

C. Election management bodies 209

D. Funding of elections 222

E. Management of electoral disputes 226

F. EMB relations with other actors 229

G. A critical assessment of election management in Tanzania 234

H. Constitutional review and reform of EMBs 247

I. Conclusions 249

J. Recommendations 250


6 UgandaMargaret Sekaggya 254

A. Summary 254

B. Political history of elections 255

C. Legal framework for the Electoral Commission 263

D. Management of electoral disputes 274

E. Financing the EC 277

F. A critical assessment of election management in Uganda 280

G. Conclusion 290

H. Recommendations


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