Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2009

Kenya and Zimbabwe: Democratic Challenges and Opportunities

Briggs Bomba

January 2008

Africa Policy Information Center


The world’s attention has been riveted in 2008, by election crises in Africa, first Kenya, and now Zimbabwe. In both cases, challenges remain in converting electoral victory to political power. Can a victorious opposition come to power in the face of an obstinate incumbent? This question is particularly relevant when the incumbent regime controls the coercive apparatus of the state and the opposition only has the ballot in its corner. In the battle of the ballot vs. the bullet, can there ever be a fair match?