vendredi 21 mars 2014

Anxieties of West African Democracy: Six Presidential Elections in 2014-2015 (Part II)

Article published on 21 March 2014 on African Futures:

In the first part of this article, the author describes the political context surrounding the high-risk presidential elections that will take place in six countries in West Africa in 2014-2015. It considered in particular, the anticipated intensity of electoral competition in each country, one of the three elements of risk he’ll use, to assess the likelihood of violence. In this second part, he examines the current security context of the different countries and the institutional environments that will oversee the electoral process.

The second element of consideration for an analysis of the risks tied to the West African presidential elections of 2014-2015, is a state’s general security situation. Unfortunately, for these six, this is not reassuring. Among the determining factors of a security context, this piece considers the existence or nonexistence of armed rebel or ex-rebel groups, the degree of political control and professional integrity of the security forces, the extent of alignment between political affinity and ethnic and regional identities, the conditions, peaceful or not, of the most recent presidential elections, as well as the magnitude and form of political and/or security involvement of important foreign actors.

Nigeria appears to be without contest the most fragile security environment. The 2015 election will unfold in a country already battling with the terrorist group Boko Haram in the Northeast, and harbors organized armed groups in the Niger Delta who are just as likely to either politically support or create pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan (who also hails from this South-South region). The country is also experiencing elevated levels of violence including political, economic, ethnic, and religious dimensions in the Middle Belt (the center of the country) and elsewhere in the territory. Furthermore, the Nigerian federation is accustomed to the violent aftermaths of elections, as was the case in 2011, even though the ballot was judged to be better organized and more credible than all other previous votes.

More than 800 people were killed in three days of riots and fury in twelve northern states of the federation. The trigger was the defeat of northern candidate Muhammadu Buhari who was facing Jonathan. Nigeria did not need the terrorism of Boko Haram to achieve such levels of violence, pitting ordinary citizens against each other, with a certainly a dose of spontaneity but also a clear degree of preparedness to the violence by political-ethnic entrepreneurs and religious extremists. From the perspective of 2015, the blackmail of violence has already begun in the country, driven by militant groups threatening either "if Jonathan is not re-elected, there will be chaos" or "if Jonathan was re-elected, there will be chaos." When this psychological preparation is added to the very low level of confidence Nigerian populations have in the integrity and professionalism of the security forces, the fear of a dark debut to 2015 for West Africa’s great power seems very legitimate.

Guinea, because of the repercussions of ethno-regional political polarization and its history of violence, is also quite fragile in terms of security. It should be recognized that undeniable progress that has been made under the Condé presidency in the reform of the security sector, which has translated into an increased capacity of law enforcement to contain street protests, while no longer killing dozens of people at each occasion. This is not the era of Lansana Conté or Dadis Camara, but Guinea’s security forces are still far from showing exemplary behavior and the political neutrality of officials in charge of law and order is far from being a reality. The various protests that had punctuated the long and difficult march towards parliamentary elections in September 2013 still resulted in sometimes deadly violence. It is therefore likely that a few explosive face-to-face encounters between opposition protesters and security forces will occur during the process leading to the 2015 presidential election.

The security context is not particularly reassuring in either Guinea Bissau or Côte d'Ivoire. In the first country, the chiefs of the army have always considered themselves autonomous from the civil political authorities, and security sector reform, despite being on the international agenda for ten years, never took off. In Côte d'Ivoire, significant efforts have been made to manage the catastrophic consequences of post-election conflict in 2011, but it will take a few more years to provide the country with defense and security forces that are coherent, effective and politically neutral. The difficult legacy of years of rebellion and conflict may heavily impact the security environment and political developments...most probably after the 2015 election. Both in Guinea Bissau and Côte d'Ivoire, the presence of external actors mandated to maintain peace, the military mission of ECOWAS (ECOMIB) and the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), respectively, plays in favor of relative security around next elections. 

The political position of the defense and security forces and the maintenance of their unity are uncertain elements within the security context of Burkina Faso, which saw violent mutinies in 2011. It is impossible to know how the Burkinabe army and the different generations of officers that compose it, will handle this unprecedented situation of political uncertainty after 2015. Many senior military officials were appointed after the mutinies of 2011 to regain control of this essential pillar of Compaoré’s power. Do they consider their fate bound to Compaoré staying in the presidential palace after 2015? How do the president’s closest officers, who have accompanied him since the very brutal early years of the regime, imagine their future? There are many questions and few answers, which should not lessen the anguish of Burkina Faso and many of their West African neighbors. In Togo, the question of political positioning of the security forces and the army is less difficult to answer: the secure grasp on the power in Lomé seems to resist the hands of time.

Finally, it is important to interrogate the institutional framework in which these presidential races will be unfolding in the different countries. These frameworks include the rules, procedures, and institutions that are mobilized from the beginning to the end of the election process, and which play a determining role in the credibility of the elections and in particular the final results which designate a victor. Even if the credibility of the electoral process is not a guarantee of the absence of crisis and violence, the perception of a substantial lack of credibility is almost always a trigger of serious troubles. More so, when presidential elections happen in a country where the security environment is already fragile, and in the context of an intense competition for power, the credibility of the institutional setting of the election can be decisive for saving the country from falling into a post-electoral crisis.

Yet it is wise not to relay too much on this. The electoral laws, the conditions for establishing voter files, the political neutrality and the technical competence of institutions put in charge of organizing elections and examining post-electoral legal claims are subjects of controversy everywhere. None of the countries with an upcoming presidential election in 2014 or 2015 is considered as a model in the region in organizing free, transparent, and credible election. Some, like Nigeria, have accomplished notable progress in the past years, but they are still far, very far, from the models in West Africa, which are Ghana, Cape Verde and Senegal, where electoral commissions and/or other institutions have been able to run some very competitive yet credible elections.

In Nigeria, a number of reforms that were recommended by experts in the wake of the general elections of 2011 to correct the biggest failures of the system were not implemented. In Guinea it took mediations, intrusive international technical involvement, and a fiercely negotiated political agreement to organize the legislative elections in September 2013.The list of tasks to accomplish in order to render the provisioned elections more credible in 2015 is very long. It includes the establishment of a new voter registry and putting in place new institutions such as the Constitutional Court, which should replace the Supreme Court in the key role of validating final results. Even in Côte d’Ivoire, where the current president promised a revision of the constitution, nothing has been done to put an end to the special institutional framework designed by peace agreements and to equip the country with a new credible and politically neutral electoral authority.

To conclude, all one can do is agree with citizens of West Africa, who are made anxious by the approaching electoral seasons. After considering the three elements of evaluation simultaneously, none of the countries will be safe from strong tensions prone to degenerate into serious violence. Taking the risk of being wrong, -- who can truly predict all possible scenarios in each of these countries several months before the different elections?--, it is reasonable to classify Nigeria and Guinea as very high risk countries, Burkina Faso as a high risk country, and Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo as moderate risk, this last category certainly not meaning “low” or “non-existent” risk.

Calamitous elections are not yet unforeseeable and inevitable natural disasters. The citizens of each of the countries in question, ECOWAS and important international actors have the means to tame their anxiety by strongly mobilizing to prevent violent crises. But there is also a risk in understanding elections solely and uniquely as moments of imploding danger for states, and thus seeking only violence-free elections. This often leads, for regional and international organizations, to preferring the manipulation of the electoral process in favor of the more powerful camp, and therefore more capable of provoking chaos in case of defeat, compared to actually free elections where the outcome is uncertain. The risk is forgetting and make people forget what electoral rituals should be doing in young and fragile democracies: anchoring little by little a democratic culture in the society. If citizens must continue to vote every four or five years with fear in their hearts, it is the popular adherence to the democratic ideal in West Africa that will be ultimately threatened.

La démocratie de l’angoisse : l’Afrique de l’Ouest et ses six élections présidentielles de 2014-2015 (Partie II)

Article publié le 21 mars 2014 sur le site African Futures :

Dans la première partie de cet article, l’auteur a décrit le contexte politique dans lequel se dérouleront les élections présidentielles dans les six pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest concernés par ces scrutins souvent à haut risque cette année et en 2015. Il a examiné en particulier l’intensité anticipée de la compétition électorale dans chacun des pays, un des trois éléments d’appréciation des risques de violence. Dans cette deuxième partie, il s’interroge sur le contexte sécuritaire actuel des différents pays et sur l’environnement institutionnel qui devra encadrer les processus électoraux.

Lorsqu’on s’intéresse au contexte sécuritaire général, un deuxième élément d’appréciation capital pour une analyse approximative des risques liés aux élections présidentielles à venir, il n’y a pas de quoi être rassuré. Parmi les déterminants principaux du contexte sécuritaire, on peut s’appesantir sur l’existence ou non dans le pays de groupes armés rebelles ou ex-rebelles, le degré de contrôle politique et d’intégrité professionnelle des forces de sécurité et des forces armées, le niveau d’alignement des affinités politiques avec l’appartenance ethnique et régionale, les conditions pacifiques ou non des élections présidentielles les plus récentes ainsi que l’ampleur et la forme de l’implication politique et/ou sécuritaire d’acteurs extérieurs importants.

Le Nigeria apparaît sans conteste comme l’environnement sécuritaire le plus fragile. L’élection de 2015 va se dérouler dans un pays déjà aux prises avec le groupe terroriste Boko Haram au Nord-Est, un pays qui abrite également des groupes armés organisés dans le Delta du Niger aussi prompts à soutenir politiquement qu’à exercer des pressions sur le président Jonathan lui-même issu de cette région du South-South, et un pays qui connaît des niveaux élevés de violence combinant des dimensions politiques, économiques, ethniques et religieuses dans le Middle Belt (centre du pays) et ailleurs sur le territoire. La fédération nigériane est aussi habituée à des lendemains d’élection meurtriers, comme ce fut le cas en 2011, alors même que le scrutin avait été jugé mieux organisé et plus crédible que tous les précédents.

Plus de 800 personnes avaient été tuées en trois jours d’émeutes et de furie dans douze Etats du nord de la fédération, l’élément déclencheur ayant été la défaite du candidat nordiste Muhammadu Buhari face à Jonathan. Le Nigeria n’avait pas besoin du terrorisme de Boko Haram pour atteindre de tels niveaux de violences mettant aux prises des concitoyens entre eux, avec certes une dose de spontanéité mais aussi un degré certain de préparation des esprits à la violence par des entrepreneurs politico-ethniques et des extrémistes religieux. Dans la perspective de 2015, le chantage à la violence a déjà commencé dans le pays, animé aussi bien par des groupes de militants du « si Jonathan n’est pas réélu, ce sera le chaos » que par ceux du « si Jonathan est réélu, ce sera le chaos ». Quand on ajoute à cette préparation mentale le très faible degré de confiance des populations nigérianes dans l’intégrité et le professionnalisme des forces de sécurité, la crainte d’un sombre début d’année 2015 dans la grande puissance de l’Afrique de l’Ouest paraît fort légitime.
La Guinée, du fait du prolongement ethno-régional de la polarisation politique et du passif de violences, est également très fragile du point de vue sécuritaire. Il convient de reconnaître les progrès indéniables qui ont été faits sous la présidence Condé dans la réforme du secteur de la sécurité qui se traduit par une amélioration de la capacité des forces de l’ordre à contenir des manifestations de rue sans tuer en une seule journée plusieurs dizaines de personnes. Ce n’est plus l’époque de Lansana Conté ou celle de Dadis Camara mais on n’est encore très loin d’un comportement exemplaire des forces de sécurité et d’une neutralité politique des responsables du maintien de l’ordre et de la haute administration territoriale. Les différentes manifestations qui avaient rythmé la longue et difficile marche vers les élections législatives de septembre dernier s’étaient tout de même traduites par des violences parfois meurtrières. On peut déjà anticiper un face-à-face explosif entre manifestants de l’opposition et forces de sécurité lorsque sera engagé le processus menant à l’élection présidentielle.

Le contexte sécuritaire n’est pas particulièrement rassurant non plus en Guinée Bissau et en Côte d’Ivoire. Dans le premier pays, les chefs de l’armée se sont toujours considérés autonomes par rapport au pouvoir politique civil et on parle de réforme du secteur de la sécurité depuis une dizaine d’années sans avoir jamais réussi à l’enclencher. En Côte d’Ivoire, des efforts significatifs ont été faits pour gérer les conséquences catastrophiques du conflit armé postélectoral de 2011, mais il faudra encore quelques années pour doter le pays de forces de défense et de sécurité cohérentes, efficaces et politiquement neutres. L’héritage difficile des années de rébellion et de conflit risque de peser lourdement dans l’environnement sécuritaire et les développements politiques… après l’élection de 2015. Aussi bien en Guinée Bissau qu’en Côte d’Ivoire, la présence d’acteurs extérieurs mandatés pour le maintien de la paix, la mission militaire de la CEDEAO (ECOMIB) et l’Opération des Nations unies en Côte d’Ivoire (ONUCI) respectivement, est un facteur d’apaisement relatif.

Le positionnement politique des forces de défense et de sécurité et le maintien de leur unité sont des éléments d’incertitude qui pèsent sur le contexte sécuritaire au Burkina Faso qui a connu de violentes mutineries en 2011. Impossible de savoir comment l’armée burkinabè et les différentes générations qui la composent vivent actuellement la situation inédite d’incertitude politique sur l’après 2015.  Les hauts responsables militaires dont beaucoup ont été nommés au lendemain des mutineries de 2011 pour reprendre en main ce pilier essentiel du pouvoir de Compaoré considèrent-ils leur sort lié au maintien de ce dernier au palais présidentiel après 2015 ? Comment les officiers les plus proches du président qui l’ont accompagné depuis les premières années d’un régime alors très brutal appréhendent-ils l’avenir ? Beaucoup de questions et peu de réponses, ce qui ne devrait pas atténuer l’angoisse des Burkinabè et de nombre de leurs voisins ouest-africains. Au Togo, la question du positionnement politique des forces de sécurité et de l’armée se pose beaucoup moins : le verrouillage sécuritaire par le pouvoir de Lomé semble résister à l’usure du temps.

Il convient enfin de s’interroger sur le cadre institutionnel dans lequel se dérouleront les scrutins présidentiels dans les différents pays. Ce cadre désigne ici l’ensemble des règles, procédures, institutions qui sont mobilisées du début à la fin du processus électoral et qui jouent un rôle déterminant dans la crédibilité des scrutins, en particulier celle des résultats définitifs qui désignent le vainqueur. Si la crédibilité du processus électoral n’est pas une garantie d’absence de crise et de violences, la perception d’un déficit important de crédibilité est quasiment toujours un déclencheur de troubles. De plus, lorsque l’élection présidentielle se passe dans un pays dont l’environnement sécuritaire est déjà fragile et dans le contexte d’une intense compétition pour le pouvoir, la crédibilité du cadre institutionnel régentant l’élection peut être décisive pour sauver le pays d’un basculement quasiment certain dans une crise postélectorale.

Il ne faudra pas trop compter sur cela. Partout, les dispositions des lois électorales, les conditions d’établissement des fichiers d’électeurs, la neutralité politique et la compétence technique des institutions chargées d’organiser les élections et d’examiner les éventuels recours font l’objet de controverses. Aucun des pays concerné par une élection présidentielle en 2014 ou 2015 n’est un modèle dans la région en matière d’organisation de scrutins libres, transparents et crédibles. Certains ont accompli, à l’instar du Nigeria, des progrès notables en la matière au cours des dernières années, mais ils sont tous encore loin, bien loin, des modèles en Afrique de l’Ouest que sont le Ghana, le Cap-Vert et le Sénégal où des commissions électorales et/ou d’autres dispositifs et institutions ont su gérer et crédibiliser des élections parfois très compétitives.

Au Nigeria, nombre de réformes qui avaient été recommandées par les experts au lendemain des élections générales de 2011, certes mieux organisées que les précédentes, pour corriger les plus graves failles du système n’ont pas été mises en œuvre. En Guinée, il a fallu des médiations, une forte implication technique internationale et un accord politique âprement négocié pour arriver à organiser des élections législatives en septembre 2013. La liste des tâches à accomplir pour rendre le dispositif électoral plus crédible pour la présidentielle de 2015 est très longue. Elle comprend l’établissement d’un nouveau fichier électoral et la mise en place d’une institution cruciale comme la Cour constitutionnelle qui doit remplacer la Cour suprême dans le rôle de juge ultime du contentieux électoral. Même en Côte d’Ivoire, où l’actuel président avait promis une révision de la Constitution, rien n’a été fait pour fermer la page des dispositions spéciales issues des accords de paix et doter le pays d’un nouveau cadre électoral et d’un mode de composition de la commission électorale indépendante susceptible de créer davantage de confiance de la part de tous les acteurs politiques.      

On ne peut, en guise de conclusion, que donner raison aux citoyens d’Afrique de l’Ouest déjà angoissés à l’approche des échéances électorales à venir. Lorsqu’on prend en compte simultanément les trois éléments d’appréciation, aucun des pays ne sera à l’abri de tensions fortes susceptibles de dégénérer en violences plus ou moins graves. En prenant le risque de se tromper, - qui peut vraiment prévoir tous les scénarios possibles dans chacun de ces pays plusieurs mois avant les différents scrutins ? -, il est raisonnable de classer le Nigeria et la Guinée dans une catégorie de pays à très haut risque, le Burkina Faso dans une catégorie de pays à haut risque et la Guinée Bissau, la Côte d’Ivoire et le Togo dans une catégorie de pays à risque modéré, ce qualificatif ne voulant surtout pas dire « faible » ou « inexistant ».

Les élections calamiteuses ne sont pas cependant des catastrophes naturelles imprévisibles et inévitables. Les citoyens de chacun des pays concernés, la CEDEAO et les acteurs internationaux importants ont les moyens de dompter l’angoisse par une forte mobilisation pour prévenir des crises violentes. Mais il y a aussi un risque à appréhender les élections uniquement ou principalement comme des moments de danger d’implosion des Etats, et à ne rechercher que des élections sans violence. Cela revient souvent, pour les organisations régionales et internationales, à préférer la manipulation des processus électoraux au profit du camp le plus puissant, et donc le plus à même de provoquer le chaos en cas de défaite, à des scrutins réellement ouverts à l’issue incertaine. Le risque est celui d’oublier et de faire oublier à quoi devraient servir les rituels électoraux dans des démocraties jeunes et fragiles : à ancrer petit à petit une culture démocratique dans la société. Si les populations doivent continuer à aller voter tous les quatre ou cinq ans, la peur au ventre, c’est l’adhésion populaire à l’idéal démocratique en Afrique de l’Ouest qui finira par être menacée.

jeudi 6 mars 2014

Anxieties of West African Democracy: Six Presidential Elections in 2014-2015 (Part I)

Published on African Futures, see more at:
It is with knotted stomachs and clenched throats that the citizens of six members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are preparing to enter an election period that has become synonymous in too large a part of the continent, with a high risk of violent crisis. The first who will be summoned to the ballot are the voters of Guinea-Bissau, where presidential and legislative elections scheduled for 13 April are supposed to turn the page on a two-year transition period. In this Portuguese-speaking country, the only in the region except the islands of Cape Verde, the electoral calendar has been systematically disrupted since the nation’s formal democratization in the early 1990s, by military coups, political assassinations, and most recently by the natural death of the President. But it is in fact in 2015, when the election season will get exceptionally busy.[1] Presidential elections are foreseen in the first trimester in Nigeria and in Togo, and in the last trimester in Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Côte d’Ivoire.[2]
For each of these countries, and for the whole of West Africa, presidential elections have come to represent a critical moment for peace and political stability, and consequentially for economic and social progress. If the region had not faced a series of violent crises during the past ten years, the elections set for 2014-2015 would have surely served as a test for the consolidation of the practice and culture of democracy in each of the mentioned countries and, by the same token, the whole West African region. This question will only be secondary for the citizens, as they, as well as regional and international organizations will now approach the presidential ballots very differently. The primary objective will be to prevent these moments, which were supposed to demonstrate the vitality of democracy, from turning into periods of sustained violence, or worse, armed conflict. In light of the political and security events of the past years, these fears are legitimate.
But what is the magnitude of the risk associated with each of the upcoming presidential elections in the region? Where will the outcome have the most impact? To attempt to answer these questions, it is useful to consider three evaluation factors: the anticipated intensity of presidential competition, the general security context of the country, and the institutional structure put in place to manage the electoral process. Anticipating the intensity of the competition for the presidential position amounts to pondering, in each country, the likelihood that the ballot will be open, and that no candidate will be sure to win at an early stage in the process. Classifying the countries based on the first factor is not so simple, since we do not yet know with certainty who will be the candidates running in each presidential election.
In Guinea-Bissau, the ballot must put an end to a special situation borne of a coup… against a prime minister who was on the verge of becoming president, Carlos Gomes Júnior. Organized in April 2012, the last election was stopped between the two rounds of balloting. Gomes Júnior, largely in the lead after the first ballot, was brutally removed and forced to leave the country by the military chiefs who were hostile toward him. The former prime minister remains an influential political actor, but is still out of the country, currently in Cape Verde after first escaping to Portugal. He is still considered unacceptable by the military hierarchy and perhaps also by important regional actors, therefore it is difficult to envision how he could safely enter his country again and run once more in the presidential election. He has sought the nomination of his party, the PAIGC (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde), but the party chose on 2 March, a former minister of finance and former mayor of the capital, José Mário Vaz, as its presidential candidate.
The PAIGC, a dominant political force in the country despite its internal divisions, should start off with a lead in the parliamentary elections over the PRS (Partido para a Renovação Social), which is also divided, and ahead of a few other smaller parties. The competition for the presidency should be more competitive due to a few independent candidates likely to attract an electorate confused by and tired of partisan political struggles. But the hardest thing in Guinea-Bissau is not always to endow the country with a democratically elected president. It’s guaranteeing his political and physical survival until the end of his term, especially if he/she came to decide to rule against the interests of military chiefs and/or big drug traffickers, active in international networks across the region.
In Nigeria as well, the list of presidential candidates is not known with certainty, but attention is focused on the intentions of outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan. Evoking a non-written rotation principle between the nomination of northern and southern candidates’ to lead the PDP (People’s Democratic Party), the party in power since the return of democracy in 1999, those opposed to a second term for the president are numerous. Vice President in 2007, Jonathan inherited the presidency after the death of Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010 before getting reelected in 2011 for his first full term of four years. The defections of influential PDP personalities have multiplied in the past few months and continue to weaken the camp of the president.
The opposition to PDP, on the other hand, is showing unprecedented strength, because of the merging in February 2013 of four important parties into one large opposition bloc, the APC (All Progressives Congress), which is just as established as the ruling party in each state of the federation. Financial means, a key determining factor in colossal electoral battles, will not be lacking from one camp to the next, even though the ruling party of this powerful oil-producing country will undoubtedly have at their disposal certain advantages. The competition will most likely be very intense. It will be so in all scenarios, including the improbable case of withdrawal from the race by the incumbent president for his party’s nomination, and no matter which candidate is chosen by the APC. This choice will not be easy and could produce rifts in the unity so far displayed by the new largest opposition party.
The Togolese, like the Nigerians, will be going to the ballot during the first trimester of 2015. The outgoing president Faure Gnassingbé, elected during controversial and violent circumstances in 2005 after his father Eyadema Gnassingbé died of natural causes, and then again re-elected in 2010, will be able to run for a third time without modifying the current Constitution. Since the forced return to a formal democratic system, the Togolese power structures have not stopped toying with the set limitation of two consecutive presidential terms. In 2002 a constitutional revision not only deleted this provision, but also instituted the principle of a single round presidential election.
Despite the recommendations of a global political agreement signed in 2006 and repeated demands from the opposition, the current constitution and the electoral law have remained very favorable towards a quiet continuation of President Gnassingbé’s regime. The presidential party UNIR (Union pour la République) controls the parliament with an absolute majority and will ensure that nothing is devised to reduce their candidate’s chances of victory in 2015. Moreover, the security apparatus of Gnassingbé’s regime and the insufficient coordination of the political opposition do not build the case, at this moment, for an open and serious electoral race that could result in a real political turnover in a country that has not experienced one since Eyadema Gnassingbé’s coup…in 1967.
In Burkina Faso, there has not even been a generational change in leadership, like what was seen in Togo in 2005. In power since October 1987, Blaise Compaoré will have spent 28 years as head of state at the moment of the 2015 presidential election. The current constitution limits the number of consecutive terms to two and the president will not be able to be a candidate unless he succeeds in passing a new revision of the fundamental law in the coming months. Because his intentions became clear, opponents to any kind of maneuver to prolong the reign of President Compaoré started their mobilization in Ouagadougou. They succeeded in weakening the president’s power base faster than expected. A significant number of important personalities from his party, the CDP (Congrès pour la Démocratie et le Progrès), who used to be close supporters of Compaoré, decided to leave the ship last January and join the opponents of the constitutional revision.
Burkina Faso is already in a fraught pre-electoral period, and this situation will last until the government makes the decision to either renounce the idea of a constitutional modification or choose to convene a referendum on the subject. If the latter course is chosen, vehement political protests are inevitable and their consequences uncertain. The 2015 electoral race will then be highly competitive. If Compaoré decides to not seek reelection, the field would be very open. But the environment should be less tense and volatile than if the current president insists on running again.
In Guinea, President Alpha Condé is expected to run in 2015 for his second and last term. There is no legal obstacle to overcome, but he will face well-organized political contenders that are determined and capable of depriving him from a renewed term. The president came to power in December 2010 after a laborious and controversial election where, in the first ballot, the former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo had largely outdistanced him, yet he was able to overcome the deficit and win in the second round. The recent legislative elections, also organized with difficulty after repeated delays and strong international involvement, made it clear that the camp of President Condé was unable to truly dominate the opposition in the polls. The latter, which is even divided into several clusters, is almost on equal footing with the president’s party, the RPG (Rassemblement du Peuple Guinéen) and its allies.
The UFDG (Union des Forces Démocratiques de Guinée) of Cellou Dalein Diallo represents an important political force that could become the majority contender in the second ballot of the presidential election, if its allies and other important parties such as the UFR (L’Union des Forces Républicaines) of Sydia Touré or PEDN (Parti de l’Espoir pour le Développement National) of Lansana Kouyaté join an “all against Condé” coalition. In the currently unlikely case of a single and formidable opposition candidate, President Condé would be exposed to a real possibility of being defeated, despite the usual advantages granted to a ruling candidate. There will be no limits to the intensity of the battle for presidency in Guinea at the end of 2015. It will be one of the toughest in the region.
During this same and final trimester of 2015, Ivoirians will also be called to the ballot to re-elect the current President Alassane Ouattara or choose a new head of state. After arriving to power during the course of a competitive election that dissolved into armed conflict with the then-incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, Ouattara has quickly indicated that he would like to be a candidate for a second and final term. His party, the RDR (Rassemblement des Républicains), will definitely be united behind the president for the future electoral battle, but the complete and unequivocal support from the PDCI (Parti Démocratique de Côte d’Ivoire), an important and potentially decisive ally, is not yet sure. The electoral outcome is not a foregone conclusion but the weakness and liabilities of the FPI (Front Populaire Ivoirien) of former President Gbagbo, a prisoner of the ICC at The Hague, are such that the current president should start as the likely favorite. Also, his actions to boost the Ivorian economy and his recent measures towards national political reconciliation will play in his favor. We can predict a moderately intense presidential election from an electorate that has not quite recovered from the traumatic 2010 post-electoral experience.
In the second part, the Dr. Yabi will consider the two other proposed evaluation factors. What can an analysis of the general security context of the various countries, and the institutional framework for the elections, tell us about the risks of post-electoral violence?
[1] The other presidential election in 2014, scheduled for June, will take place in Mauritania, a country straddling West and North Africa and removed itself from ECOWAS in 2000.

[2] At the same time, in the beginning of 2016, voters in Niger and Benin will in turn be called to the ballot to choose their president. In both countries, the political climate is already marked by great tensions and more than two years of failed elections. Cape Verde, Gambia, and Ghana are also preparing elections for the second semester of 2016.