Trend Monitoring Report: The Election Train (2010-2012)

Between 2010 and 2012, voters in 10 out of the 11 Great Horn of East Africa (GHEA) countries will go to the polls. The only place where the election train will not stop is Eritrea where elections have been postponed indefinitely since 2001. The fourth SID Trend Monitoring report presents the complete regional elections calendar to December 2012.

There are at least 127 million registered voters in the region, representing approximately 40 percent of the population. Ethiopia has registered the largest number of voters (32 million) but at 53 percent, the largest share of the population that is registered to vote is in Rwanda. With April elections held and concluded peacefully, though with some major shortcomings which prompted the Carter Center to declare them as 'not being up to international standards', Sudan is set to prepare now for the next fundamental stage provided for in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005: the self-determination referendum through which South Sudan will decide whether to remain part of the country or to secede and become an independent state (SID Sudan Observatory).

Whether the referendum takes place - and how it is conducte - will determine if southern Sudanese are at last allowed to choose their own future and may give birth to Africa's newest nation (Tristan McConnell). The report summarizes the state of affairs ahead of forthcoming elections in Burundi and the potential increasing level of uncertainty of the peace process. Given the Democratic Republic of Congo's precarious security situation and elections in 2011, the government's request for the U.N. to pull out its peacekeepers by the end of 2011 is likely to heighten security concerns.

The Election Train finally gauges the political mood and sentiment in the overall region as reflected in the mass media and features a thoughtful insight on how religious affiliation might affect campaigns, elections and results across Africa. It concludes with a special focus on Rwanda by reproducing a published interview with Louise Mushikiwabo, that country's Foreign Affairs Minister, addressing the concept of 'genocide ideology' and rejecting threats of an upcoming crisis vis a vis the election time, though conscious of the complex dynamics informing the country, generated inside as well outside its borders. 'When the leadership stopped the genocide, it didn't stop people who think genocide. Though we have been a very secure country, we have people outside the borders who want to come back and finish the work of the genocide; we have people internally, too, who are unhappy and disgruntled with the current leadership'.

Who is riding the election train? Will it arrive at a place of increased citizen engagement in the development process?Will it lead to political and economic maturity? Or will the region end up with heightened conflict and polarized polities?

Read the full report

  • In this issue:
  • Editorial
  • Election calendar, voter registration and religious affiliation
  • Summary of reports on elections and political contexts
  • The political mood and sentiment as reflected in the media
  • Interview with Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs


Photo: UN Photo/Tim McKulka