Electoral Violence- The Result Of An Electoral Process Or The Breakdown Of An Electoral Process?

Electoral Violence- The Result Of An Electoral Process Or The Breakdown Of An Electoral Process?

EPISODE I

Elections in Ghana has been marred by various forms of malpractices ranging from double or multiple registration, deliberate late arrival of election materials by electoral officials, stuffing or snatching of ballot boxes, destruction or hijacking of electoral materials, harassment and intimidation by armed vigilante groups, falsification of results, delay in announcing results with no satisfactory explanation etc. these practices logically results in violent conflicts and clashes.

It is imperative that we re-examine, first electoral violence, followed by the youths as the major actors of electoral violence before considering the nature and scope of youths’ involvement in electoral violence in Ghana to properly understand the magnitude of the problem and also to evaluate the causes and finally the consequences for youths’ involved in electoral violence and the Ghanaian nation at large.

ELECTORAL VIOLENCE

The first question that might logically come to mind which might lead to a better understanding of ‘violence’ in general is to define it. For the purpose of this discourse, the World Health Organization’s (WHO), definition of violence would be adopted. WHO in the 2008 Report defines violence as:

The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, mal-development or deprivation.

The definition is all encompassing; it covers a wide range of acts, going beyond physical acts to include threats and intimidation. Besides death and injury, the definition also includes the myriad and often less obvious consequences of violent behaviour, such as psychological harm, deprivation and mal-development that compromise the well-being of individuals, families and communities.

The definition particularly covers electoral violence, which is part and parcel of political conflict or political violence, as succinctly capture in the definition of electoral violence by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).

IFES defines electoral violence as

any act or threat of physical or psychological harm to a person or damage to property, directed at anyone directly involved in an electoral process (voter, candidate, party officer, election worker, election monitor, journalist, etc.), which may disrupt or attempt to disrupt any aspect of the electoral process (campaign, registration, voting, counting, etc.)

Electoral violence can thus be seen as any random or organized act that seeks to determine, delay, or otherwise influence an electoral process through threat, verbal intimidation, hate speech, disinformation, physical assault, blackmail, destruction of property or assassination. The victims of electoral violence can be people, places, things or data. The acts associated with electoral violence include physical harm (e.g. homicide, sexual violence, torture, assault); threats (e.g. physical, verbal); intimidation; destruction of property (e.g. arson, damage from stones or sharp objects); and forced displacement.

OBJECTIVE

The objective of electoral violence is to influence the electoral process and its outcome by gaining an unfair political advantage by one individual or group of individuals over another. It is geared towards winning political competition or power through violence or subverting the ends of the electoral and democratic process through intimidation and disempowerment of political opponents.

WHEN DO THEY OCCUR?

 Election violence might occur at different stages of the electoral process, either before, during or after the election in the form of thuggery, use of force to disrupt political meetings or voting at polling stations, or the use of dangerous weapons to intimidate voters and other electoral processes, or to cause bodily harm or injury to any person connected with the electoral processes.

Here are the common grounds on which electoral violence occurs:

  1. During registration, when both the ruling and opposing parties attempts to hijack the voter registration to enable falsification or double registration as pre-rigging mechanism.
  2. During registration, when both the ruling and opposing parties attempts to hijack the voter registration to enable falsification or double registration as pre-rigging mechanism.
  3. During registration, when both the ruling and opposing parties attempts to hijack the voter registration to enable falsification or double registration as pre-rigging mechanism.
  4. During registration, when both the ruling and opposing parties attempts to hijack the voter registration to enable falsification or double registration as pre-rigging mechanism.
  5. During registration, when both the ruling and opposing parties attempts to hijack the voter registration to enable falsification or double registration as pre-rigging mechanism.

Five Common Grounds for Electoral Violence

  • During registration
  • During campaigns
  • On Election Day
  • When results are announced
  • Winner takes all syndrome

Watchout for Episode II on Sunday

By GH. Kojo | myactiveonline.com

Email your stories to: [email protected]

Join the discussion

%d bloggers like this: