African Elections during the Covid-19 Pandemic
Posted on 27th October, 2020 in RAS News
Image: Voter in Tanzania, 2018. Author Madjika87. Source Wikimedia Commons
How are African countries dealing with elections during Covid-19? Already there have been three elections in Mali, Burundi and last week in Guinea. Tomorrow Tanzania goes to the polls for fiercely contested elections, and another eight are due before the end of the year, including critical ones in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, followed by 18 more scheduled for next year. How can safe, as well as fair, elections be assured?
A team of researchers led by Dr Thomas Molony (Director of the Centre of African Studies at School of Political Science, University of Edinburgh) are looking into this question. Working in partnership with colleagues in Tanzania, the Central African Republic and Ghana, this research will look at risks of transmission during the many phases of the electoral cycle, the strength and quality of electoral processes, how the pandemic affects participation, and the wider impact on democracy. Findings from the case study countries will be analysed and shared, in the hopes that they may also widen applicability across the continent and beyond.
Key election dates:
Tanzania – 28th October 2020
Ghana – 7th December 2020
Central African Republic – 27th December 2020
Dr Thomas Molony, Director of the Centre of African Studies at School of Political Science, University of Edinburgh said:
“Elections give people the opportunity to shape the future of their societies. Such decisions are crucial in the context of Covid-19, which has drastically affected lives around the globe.
“We are also interested in democracy. The Covid-19 pandemic has the potential for democratic back-sliding, where the quality and legitimacy of elections are undermined – either unintentionally because of safety measures, or intentionally where incumbents seek to instrumentalise the virus through authoritarian measures designed to benefit themselves.”
The Royal African Society will act as an impact partner for this project by organising opportunities for public engagement via online events, briefings for UK parliamentarians and disseminating some of the research findings to our wide networks through platforms like African Arguments. The first of these will be a seminar on 11th November in partnership with the Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh.
This project is funded by UK Research and Innovation through the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund. The partners are Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh; The Open University of Tanzania; Ghana Center for Democratic Development; and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative working with Echelle.
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