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Electoral Violence In West Africa A Comparative analysis of 2011 general elections in Nigeria and Cote d’ivoire

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Complete project materials on: Electoral violence in west africa a comparative analysis of 2011 general elections in nigeria and cote d’ivoire


This study examines election violence in Nigeria and Ivory Coast. It situates the violence within conceptual, historical, empirical and comparative perspective. In conceptualizing election violence in Nigeria and Ivory Coast, the study defined election violence as a specific form of electoral violence that occurs at a particular time focused in the electoral cycle – the post-election period (that is, between the Election Day and the announcement of results and in the aftermath).

The study traces the roots of election violence in Nigeria and Ivory Coast to remote and immediate causes such as saliency of communal identities in politics and communal tensions, decline in trust and social capital among communities, culture of impunity, economic vulnerabilities, institutional and behavioral issues such as erosion of trust in the electoral justice system, lack of internal democracy in political parties, integrity of elections, use of inflammatory rhetoric, inability to accept defeat and changes in political institutions.

Based on data collected mainly from documents, this study examined the underlying causes, as well as the implication of electoral violence on democratization in West African sub region. To provide a systematic explanation of why electoral violence occurred in Nigeria and Ivory Coast, this study adopted three major analytical perspectives: grievance, opportunity structure and structural perspectives. Based on these perspectives, the study observed that seven key issues combined to provide the basis for election violence in Nigeria and Ivory Coast. These include: 1) flaws in election administration and doubts about the credibility of the elections by opposition candidates/parties. 2) presence of willing protesters in various communities. 3) weak state capacity to provide security and law enforcement. 4) unrestrained use of inflammatory remarks. 5) existence of communal tensions. 6) saliency of ethnicity in 2011 elections and 7) shifts in power relations among political parties.

Furthermore, the study indicates that election violence has a negative impact on democratization in West Africa. To address some of the issues raised in this study, the researcher suggests that Governments of Nigeria and Ivory Coast should publish reports of Commissions of Inquiry into the election violence and implement as appropriate their recommendations as well as the recommendations contained in government white papers.


Title page







1.1  Background of the Study

1.2  Statement of the Research Problem

1.3  Research Question

1.4  Objectives of the Study

1.5  Significance of the study

1.6  Scope of the Study

1.7  Research Methodology

1.8  Definition of Terms                                                                                                          5


2.1 Introduction

2.2 Concept of Electoral Violence

2.3 Remote Cause of Electoral Violence

2.3.1 Immediate Causes of Electoral Violence

2.4 Electoral Violence In West Africa

2.5 Theoretical Framework

2.5.1 Hobessian Realism

2.5.2 Frustration – Aggression Theory


3.1 Introduction

3.1.1 Nigerian Electoral violence in a Historical Context

3.2 Election Violence In Nigeria: Aftermath of 2011 General Election

3.3 Analyzing the 2011 Post-Election Violence in Nigeria

3.3.1 The Underlying Cause of the Violence

3.4 Background to the Electoral Violence in Cote D’ivoire

3.4.1 Post Election Crisis in Cote D’ivoire

3.4.2 Post – Election Crisis in Cote D’ivoire

3.4.3 Political Tension and Violence

3.4.4 Casualties and Rising threat level

3.5 Company Notes: Lessons from Nigeria and Cote D’ivoire



4.1 Introduction

4.2 What The Causes of Electoral Violence In Nigeria and Cote D’ivoire?

4.3 What The Impacts of Electoral Violence on the Process of Democracy in the West Africa Sub region?

4.4 What Policy Measure Can Make Electoral process More Violence Free in The West African Sub – region


5.1 Summary

5.2 Conclusion

5.3 Recommendations



1.1              Background to the study

Since the return to multiparty politics in third wave democracies in the early 1990s, electoral competition for state power has become the norm and African states have since held more than three successive elections. While the frequency of elections has generated some sense of optimism for multiparty politics, a worrying trend of increasing election-related violent conflict that threatens democracy, peace and stability has emerged (Falana, 2009).

The factors that propel such violence are multifaceted, ranging from flawed or failed elections to structural issues such as poor governance, exclusionary political practices, the socio-economic uncertainties of losing political power and the challenges associated with partial democracies, to name a few. However, although the factors which propel and trigger electoral violence in Africa are diverse, they generally revolve around the failure to identify structural and institutional issues which create the potential for such violence.

Consequently, responses to electoral violence tend to be confined to addressing symptoms rather than redressing structural causes, which are often found outside the electoral cycle. In many cases elections have either precipitated political disputes or have escalated simmering tensions and acted as a trigger to violent conflict. For example, in the past six years this has been the case with regards to election-related violence in Sierra Leone (2007), Nigeria (2007 and 2010), Lesotho (2007), Togo (2005), Guinea Bissau (2008), Cote d’Ivoire (Sule, 2012).

This research has a specific focus on electoral violence in West Africa with much emphasis on Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire. Hence, within the framework of the election violence concepts and theories, the research aims are to clearly define the various nuances and their inter-linkages within the crisis – political, security and socio-economic.

1.2              Statement of the Research Problem

In recent years it has become more apparent that elections in West African sub region are characterized by such factors as; manipulation of electoral process, rigging and violence. Hence most elections in West African sub region are considered not being free, fair or credible. A typical example is the refusal by incumbent government to accept election results as in the case of Ivory-Coast and electoral violence in the 2011 general elections in Nigeria.

Hence, elections in West Africa still often feature many nondemocratic elements – electoral violence included. But is the prevalence of electoral violence in West Africa an indication of a setback in the democratization process? It is against this that the researcher developed the following research questions:


Research Questions

  1. What are the causes of electoral violence in Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire?
  2. What are the impacts of election violence on the process of democratization in West African sub region?

What policy measures can make electoral processes more violence free in West Africa sub region?

1.4  Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of this study is to examine electoral violence in West Africa with particular emphasis on Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire. In order to meet broad objectives, the study focused on the following specific objectives:

  1. To examine the causes of electoral violence in Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire.
  2. To assess the impact of election violence on the process of democratization in the West African sub region

iii.    To suggest policy measures by which electoral process can be made more violence free.

1.5  Significance of the Study

The significance of the study is to contribute to the mainstream of knowledge on the concept of how the activities of political parties could covertly and overtly influence the incitement of political violence most especially post –election violence in relation to the nature of the structuring and policies of such parties. In other words, this research work aimed at moving further beyond the general analysis of electoral fraud been the cause of election violence. Specifically, the study exposes for the importance of public knowledge, the history, constitutional provisions and politics behind the creation of political parties in Nigeria.

Equally, this work would be analytical in which it is planned to render detailed historical and descriptive analysis of the antiquity of post-election violence in the country as well as exploring substantial facts on the peculiarity of the 2011 post-election violence in the northern part of Nigeria.

The result of this study may be useful to Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire in particular. In this regard, the findings of this study therefore, are expected to benefit researchers, analysts and policy makers in formulating a framework to overcome the challenges of electoral violence. Furthermore it is hoped that its findings could stimulate further research in the field of Political Science. The study may also contribute to existing body of knowledge in the field of International Relations and Political Science.  It is worthy to note that the research will be a good reference material to incoming students as well as the general public who may wish to explore a similar research.


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