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Election Management Bodies in West Africa: A comparative study of the contribution of electoral commissions to the strengthening of democracy

Published Date: 23/05/2016

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170 x 244 mm


This report is an in-depth study of electoral commissions in six countries of West Africa – Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone – assessing their contribution in strengthening political participation in the region. As institutions that apply the rules governing elections, electoral management bodies (EMBs) have occupied, over the last two decades, the heart of discussion and practice on the critical question of effective citizen participation in the public affairs of their countries. The way in which they are established and the effectiveness of their operations have continued to preoccupy those who advocate for competitive elections, while reforms to the EMBs have taken centre stage in more general political reforms. Election Management Bodies in West Africa thus responds to the evident need for more knowledge about an institution that occupies a more and more important place in the political process in West Africa. Based on documentary research and detailed interviews in each country, the study provides a comparative analysis which highlights the similarities and differences in the structure and operations of each body, and attempts to establish the reasons for their comparative successes and failures.






1   Overview: The contribution of electoral management bodies to credible elections in West Africa Pascal Kambale 1

A. Introduction 1

B. Colonial legacy 2

C. Elections and constitutional reforms 3

D. Membership of EMBs and appointment of Electoral Commissioners 4

E. Independence and effectiveness 4

F. Common challenges to electoral management 8

G. Conclusion 9

H. Recommendations 10


2 Benin Mathias Hounkpe 12

A. Summary 12

B. Historical background 13

C. The Autonomous National Electoral Commission (CENA) 19

D. Funding of elections in Benin 31

E. Electoral disputes in Benin 34

F. Critical assessment of the CENA’s performance 36

G. Recommendations 47


3 Cape VerdeIsmaila Madior Fall 49

A. Summary 49

B. Constitutional development, party politics and electoral history 51

C. Election management bodies: Legal and institutional frameworks, powers and independence 58

D. Funding of elections in Cape Verde 65

E. Electoral disputes in Cape Verde 67

F. A critical assessment of the performance of EMBs in Cape Verde 67

G. Recommendations 74


4 GhanaMathias Hounkpe 76

A. Summary 76

B. The political development of Ghana 77

C. The Electoral Commission (EC) 81

D. Funding of elections in Ghana 92

E. Electoral disputes in Ghana 95

F. Critical evaluation of EC performance 96

G. Recommendations 106


5 NigeriaAdele Jinadu 108

A. Summary 108

B. Constitutional development, party politics and electoral history 110

C. Nigeria’s electoral management body: History, structure and independence 117

D. Funding of elections in Nigeria 130

E. Electoral disputes in Nigeria 135

F. Assessment of electoral governance and process in Nigeria 145

G. Post-1999 debate on electoral governance in Nigeria 152

H. Recommendations 158


6 SenegalIsmaila Madior Fall 162

A. Summary 162

B. Constitutional change, party politics and electoral history 163

C. Status, powers and functioning of EMBs 175

D. Funding of elections in Senegal 190

E. Electoral disputes in Senegal 192

F. A critical assessment of electoral governance in Senegal 194

G. Recommendations 207


7 Sierra LeoneAdele Jinadu 209

A. Summary 209

B. Historical context 210

C. Institutional structures 215

D. Funding of elections in Sierra Leone 226

E. Electoral disputes in Sierra Leone 229

F. A critical assessment of electoral governance in Sierra Leone 230

G. Recommendations 243


About the authors 245


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