Periodic elections as a strategy for conflict prevention : a case study of Ntungamo District
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This dissertation is a result of the study that was carried out in Ntungamo District between October and November 2004. It is a thesis submitted to the school of postgraduate studies as a requirement in the partial fulfillment for the award of Master’s Degree in Peace and Conflict Studies of Mak:erere University. The core of this research is built on the premise that periodic free and fair elections are a core element of democracy, and have the capacity to prevent conflict associated with pre and post-election periods. This is emphasized by the National Poverty eradication Action Plan, which underlines the importance of elections as the most viable avenue through which people can elect their leaders peacefully, through a free and fair environment, which ensures political stability, and later sanction economic growth and development in any given country. The general objective was to identify, critically analyze as well as evaluate the issues around which Uganda's elections have been revolving. It is noted that Uganda since independence has held a series of elections, although the quality of these elections remains contestable, and have been characterized by massive rigging, election violence and all forms of malpractices. This explains why 44 years after independence, the establishment of a democratic system of governance in Uganda remains elusive. The findings of this research are a scholarly contribution to the already existing pool of knowledge, which can be used to put in place an electoral policy and system that ensures independent and transparent elections through which our governments can gain political legitimacy. The conceptual frame work exposes the fact that conflict prevention is highly dependent on free and air elections which are an element of democracy. The free and fair elections are achieved through a combined effort of the three arms of government, and the civil society through advocacy. When this kind of environment is achieved, the outcomes are beautiful i.e. increased political participation, and sustainable peace and development. The methodology incorporated both qualitative and quantitative elements. The methods of data collection included oral interviews, Focus Group Discussions (FDGs) and the use of Questionnaires. SPSS computer package was used to analyze the data. The major findings include, among others; Election violence was found overwhelming, the state being a major perpetrator of election violence, more participation of men in political issues than their female counterparts, a positive relationship between free and fair elections and conflict prevention. The major recommendations include; Civic education, amendment of some electoral laws, Strengthening the independence of the Electoral Commission as well as emphasizing transparency in elections through advocacy.