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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Covering post-conflict elections: challenges for the media in Central Africa
Author:Frère, Marie-SoleilISNI
Periodical:Afrika Spectrum (ISSN 0002-0397)
Geographic terms:Burundi
Central African Republic
Congo (Republic of)
Congo (Democratic Republic of)
mass media
access to information
Abstract:In the past ten years, elections were held in six countries of Central Africa experiencing 'post-conflict' situations. The polls that took place in Burundi (2005), Central African Republic (2005), Democratic Republic of Congo (2006), Congo-Brazzaville (2002, 2007), Chad (1996, 2001, 2006) and Rwanda (2003) were crucial for peace-building. In some cases, they were widely supported and supervised by the international community, being considered the last step of a peace process and the first step toward establishing a truly representative 'post-conflict' regime. The media were expected to play a large part in supporting these elections, both to inform the citizens, so they could make an educated choice, and to supervise the way the electoral administration organized the polls. This paper shows the many challenges faced by the media while covering these post-conflict electoral processes. In a context of great political tension, in which candidates are often former belligerents who have just put down their guns to go to the polls, the media operate in an unsafe and economically damaged environment, suffering from a lack of infrastructure, inadequate equipment and untrained staff. Given those constraints, one might wonder if the media should be considered real democratic tools in Central Africa or just gimmicks in a 'peace-building kit' (including 'free and fair' elections, multipartism and freedom of the press) with no real impact on the democratic commitment of the elite or the political participation of the population. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and German. [Journal abstract]