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From peace campaigns to peaceocracy : elections, order and authority in Africa.

Lynch, Gabrielle and Cheeseman, Nic and Willis, Justin (2019) 'From peace campaigns to peaceocracy : elections, order and authority in Africa.', African affairs., 118 (473). pp. 603-627.


Research on Kenya’s 2013 elections has suggested that a “peace narrative” was deliberately promoted by an establishment elite to delegitimize protest and justify the use of excessive force. It has also tended to see the Kenyan case as exceptional and to assume that such a narrative was only possible because of the 2007/2008 post-election violence. We agree that peace campaigns are often particularly intense in the wake of violence and that they can be manipulated to generate a “peaceocracy”, a system in which an emphasis on peace is used to prioritize stability and order to the detriment of democracy. However, by comparing Kenya to Ghana and Uganda, two countries that have had very different experiences of elections and election-related violence, we demonstrate that peace messaging is neither unique to countries that have experienced recent electoral conflict, nor a recent phenomenon. Instead, we highlight the pervasiveness of peace narratives across the sub-continent, which we show is due to a number of factors. These include but are not limited to the way that elections are used to assert and perform state autonomy and an associated ideal of elections as orderly processes; the capacity of multiple actors to instrumentalize the ideal of orderly elections; a popular fear of electoral violence even in countries where it is rare; a growing tendency to individualize responsibility for peace; and the availability of international funding. Taken together, these factors help to explain the rise of peace messaging. At the same time, we argue that the risk that this messaging will foster a “peaceocracy” varies markedly and that the likelihood of incumbent manipulation is greatest in countries with a recent history of civil conflict and where the quality of democracy is already low.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal African Society. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons. org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:20 May 2019
Date deposited:14 December 2018
Date of first online publication:22 July 2019
Date first made open access:22 October 2019

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