Center for Conflict Management

 
 

Symposium on

Managing Conflicts in Africa's Democratic Transitions

Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw (Atlanta suburb), Georgia
May 13, 2011

 

In recent months, the terrain of political transitions in Africa has changed dramatically. Popular, people-power movements, and peaceful demonstrations have toppled long-reigning regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, and the 40-year old dictatorship of Muammar al-Gaddafi is on the verge of collapse. In addition to these regime changes propelled by mass political movements, which scholars and advocates have called “revolutions,” there are scheduled peaceful transitions through the ballot box. If all elections are conducted as scheduled, there will be nearly 40 elections in at least 25 African countries during 2011. With the benefit of our recent historical experiences, such as the case of Cote d’Ivoire, elections have been a sure recipe for conflicts.


What are the landscapes for political transitions like in Africa? Are military coups d’etat coming back, either directly overthrowing existing regimes or hijacking popular movements? Will African nations push forward with democratic transitions of power, the orderly transition through the ballot boxes? What about political uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya? Where do they fit in the scheme of political transitions? Are they an exception or a trend? Is the culture of democratic transition gaining or losing ground in Africa? Is African democracy a different species? What is democratic about African elections? Who is running and who is being run out of the country? What kinds of conflicts are likely to emerge in the coming months as elections are held? Would the winners be deemed to have truly won? Will more popular political movements emerge? What are the roles of civil society organizations in these countries? What are the responsibilities of the international community, especially international organizations, agencies, and the African diaspora? Specifically, what is the role of the African Union (AU)? What conflict management or conflict resolution strategies have been identified, pre-selected, and proactively engaged? This one-day symposium is being convened at Kennesaw State University to consider and answer these and related questions.


Participants, speakers, and panelists will include pro-democracy activists, academicians, media practitioners, and electoral commissioners. They will convene on the beautiful campus of Kennesaw State University, located in metropolitan Atlanta for the one-day symposium.

Principal Convener:
Center for Conflict Management, KSU

Co-Sponsors:
College of Humanities and Social Sciences, KSU
Center for African and African Diaspora Studies, KSU

Contact:
Ms. Stella Williamson
Administrative Specialist
Center for Conflict Management
Kennesaw State University
1000 Chastain Road, Kennesaw, GA 30144
Email: swill344@kennesaw.edu
+1-678-797-2233

Confirmed and/or Invited Speakers:
Professor Attahiru Jega
Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
Abuja, Nigeria

Ms. Neneh MacDouall-Gaye
Former Ambassador of The Gambia to the U.S.
Now residing in Smyrna, Georgia

Dr. Abdul Karim Bangura
Howard University NCUR Coordinator, Howard University, Washington D.C.

Dr. Hriar Balian
Director, Conflict Resolution Program
The Carter Center
Atlanta, Georgia

Dr. Charles Abiodun Alao
Senior research fellow
Conflict, Security & Development Group
King's College, London

Dr. Richard Vengroff
Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Kennesaw State University

Ms. Ilona Tip
Acting Director
Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa (EISA)
Johannesburg, South Africa

Dr. Josephine Okei-Odumakin
President
Campaign for Democracy (CD) and founder Women Arise (WA)
Lagos, Nigeria

Program:

8:00- 9:00

Arrival and Registration at Social Sciences Atrium, KSU

9:00-10:45

Panel #1: Africa’s Violent and Non-Violent Political Transitions
Chair: Dr. Barry Morris, Vice Provost for Global Engagement and Strategic Initiatives, KSU
Discussant: Dr. Ryan Ronnenberg, Department of History & Philosophy, KSU
Panelists:

  • Samy Gerges, Kennesaw State University, “Religion and peaceful political activism in Egypt”
  • Dr. Abiodun Alao, King’s College, London, “Security in post-civil war democratic transitions”
  • Dr. Richard Vengroff, Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, KSU, “Democratic transition: The failure of the Sopi Revolution in Senegal”
  • Dr. Oumar Cherif Diop, Department of English, KSU, “The representation of trauma in Yvonne Vera's works”

10:45-11:00

Tea/Coffee Break

11:00-12:45

Panel #2: Preventing and Resolving Election Conflicts: Practitioners’ Perspectives
Chair: Dr. Volker Franke, Program Director, Ph.D. in International Conflict Management, KSU
Discussant: Dr. Adeyinka Bruce Omotunde, Political Scientist, formerly of Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Nigeria
Panelists:

  • Ambassador Neneh MacDouall-Gaye, formerly Ambassador of The Gambia to the United States, “Conflict prevention: Can conflicts be prevented in African democracies?”
  • Ilona Tip, Acting Director, Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa (EISA), “Mechanisms for managing election-related conflicts: South Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo case studies”
  • Dr. Josephine Okei-Odumakin, President, Campaign for Democracy (CD) and founder Women Arise (WA), “Incumbency as a democratic bottleneck in Nigeria”
  • Sarah Danso, Researcher, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Centre (KAIPTC), “Post-electoral conflict in Cote d’Ivoire: Exploring options for negotiations or use of force”
  • Thomas K. Crick, Associate Director, Conflict Resolution Program, The Carter Center, “Peace building, conflict prevention, and democratic consolidation in Liberia”

1:00-2:45

Lunch and Keynote Address

  • Welcome: Dr. Barry Morris, Vice Provost for Global Engagement and Strategic Initiatives, on behalf of President Papp
  • Welcome: Ms. Mary Bowers, Chair, Association of Kenyan Professionals in Atlanta (AKPA)
  • Introduction of Keynote Speaker: Dr. Nurudeen Akinyemi, Interim Director, Center for African and African Diaspora Studies, KSU
  • Keynote Speaker: Dr. Abdul Karim Bangura, Professor of Political Science at Howard University, Washington DC.

3:00-4:45

Panel #3: The Good, the Bad, and…: Models and Lessons in Democratic Transitions and Conflict Resolution
Chair: Dr. Jesse Benjamin,Coordinator, African and African Diaspora Studies (AADA) Program, KSU
Discussant: Dr. Lucie Viakinnou-Brinson, Department of Foreign Languages, KSU
Panelists:

  • Chux Ibekwe, Kennesaw State University, “Natural resource conflicts: The Bakassi lessons for the Republic of South Sudan and Sudan over Abyei”
  • Dr. Joseph Njoroge, Professor of Political Science & Religion, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Tifton, GA, “Democratic transitions in crisis: The case of Kenya’s post-2007 election violence, mediation, and conflict resolution”
  • Joseph Kingsley Adjei, Kennesaw State University, “An African model? Conflict management in Ghana’s 2008 presidential election”
  • Edward Mienie, Kennesaw State University, “Lessons from South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for managing Africa’s conflicts"

4:45-5:00

Tea/Coffee Break

5:00-6:45

Panel #4: Political Transitions and Conflicts: National and International Efforts in Conflict Resolution
Chair: Dr. Richard Vengroff, Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, KSU
Discussant: Dr. William Allen, Department of History & Philosophy, KSU
Panelists:

  • Dr. Brandon Lundy, Department of Geography & Anthropology, KSU, “The involution of democracy in Lusophone West Africa”
  • Dr. Andrew Ewoh, Director of MPA Program, KSU, “United States foreign policy responses to Africa’s transition conflicts”
  • Edoh Agbehonou, Kennesaw State University, “The French press and position on post-election crisis in Cote d’Ivoire”
  • Dr. Hrair Balian, Director, Conflict Resolution Program, Carter Center, “The role of dispute resolution mechanisms in transitional elections, and the role of traditional leaders and customary laws in dispute resolution”

7:00-9:00

Dinner and Keynote Address

  • Welcome: Dr. Richard Vengroff, Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, on behalf of President Papp
  • Welcome: Hon. Baba Garba, Acting Consul General, Consulate General of Nigeria, Atlanta, GA
  • Welcome: Mr. Titus Olowokere, President, Alliance of Nigerian Organizations in Georgia (ANOG)
  • Introduction of Keynote Speaker: Dr. Akanmu Adebayo, Interim Director, Center for Conflict Management, KSU
  • Keynote Speaker: Professor Attahiru Jega, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria

 

 

Saturday May 14, 2011:
Planning Meetings for Publication of the Symposium Proceedings
Meetings at the Center for Conflict Management
Time and agenda to be disseminated later

The Symposium is co-sponsored by the
College of Humanities and Social Sciences, KSU, and the
Center for African and African Diaspora Studies, KSU