Elections are key ingredients of democratic processes. They are the vehicles that enable peaceful and transparent change of government and distribution of power.
The idea of supporting peacebuilding in line with democratic leadership was developed as a result of the fact that political repression and discrimination often are the reason groups pick up arms in the first place.
More than half of the time, elections have initiated anxiety and tension in many transitioning democracies around the world. In some cases, elections even turn violent, presenting a big setback not only to peace but to democracy as well.
For several reasons, violence has become a tempting option to influence the electoral process and outcome.
Incumbents are often believed to be manipulating and tampering with the electoral processes while the opposition parties further show their strength through the use of violence.
The truth remains that violence does no good.
Apart from the obvious which include impeding people from casting their vote and hindering candidates from participating in the election, electoral violence can have long-term effects of ridiculing the electoral process and frustrating politics.
Also, the absence or presence of political violence during an electoral process is central to determining the legitimacy of an election.
Localized violence or violence of low intensity is tantamount to a ‘training ground’ for large-sized violence including civil war.
Electoral violence no doubt comes with dire consequences which include but are not limited to the following:
Damaged civil and political rights and human suffering
This encompasses the disenfranchisement of citizens’ or groups’ civil rights and psychological, physical and sexual violence that is group-specific with short and long-term consequences for the victims, their families and their communities.
Lack of trust in democratic processes and institutions:
Electoral violence doesn’t only diminish trust in democratic processes, it propagates repressive and non-democratic power structures in a country. it undermines the quality of democracy. In many cases, elections have become interchangeable with trouble and danger. These associations have overwhelming effects on trust in democratic processes and institutions.
Elections are the largest administrative undertakings in democratic societies, and consequently, the costs associated with elections may represent a major financial burden.
Election-related violence will not only squander the country’s resources but will further cause the destruction of local communities and infrastructure with numerous negative economic and developmental consequences.
Here are reasons why peacebuilding in conflict zones and in general, is important.
Peacebuilding Yields Prosperity
Show me a peaceful nation that is not prosperous!
The African continent for instance has been plagued with war for centuries and where has that landed us? Misery, poverty, and lack of development. Pea building is crucial in building a prosperous society and people. There can be no prosperity while the sounds of bombs and bullets dominate the air.
When there is peace, everyone is happy.
Only the most inhuman among us enjoy war, tension, and conflict. We ought to long for peace and cooperation. With peace, everyone is happier and more satisfied.
Yields tolerance amongst individuals at all levels
Where there is intolerance, there will always be conflict. Tolerance increases through communication. Communication between two sides at war can only be achieved if they are motivated to reach an agreement and end violence. If an agreement is reached, communication must continue, which is why peacebuilding in conflict zones is so important.
A better future for the young generation
Even if you think that the side you’re fighting against those that deserve to be eradicated, killed or defeated, take some time to consider the children caught on the wrong side, do they deserve the same?
Children suffer the most from violence. They do not understand why they lose their parents and their whole families.
Peacebuilding is key to providing children with a happy and healthy childhood.
Remember, where there is violence, there will always be civilian casualties, and even one civilian casualty makes whatever it is you’re fighting for worthless.
Do not result to violence no matter the outcome of the election. If you have played your part and done the right thing, find peace in that.