From peace campaigns to peaceocracy: elections, order and authority in Africa

Gabrielle Lynch, Nic Cheeseman, Justin Willis

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5 Citations (Scopus)
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Research on Kenya’s 2013 elections has suggested that a “peace narrative” was deliberately promoted by an establishment elite to delegitimise protest and justify the use of excessive force. It has also tended to see the Kenyan case as exceptional, and to assume that such a narrative was possible because of the 2007/2008 post-election violence. We agree that peace campaigns are often particularly intense in the wake of violence and that they can be manipulated to generate a “peaceocracy” – or a situation in which an emphasis on peace is used to prioritise stability and order to the detriment of democracy. However, by comparing Kenya to Ghana and Uganda – two countries that have had very different experiences of elections and election-related violence – we demonstrate how peace messaging is neither unique to countries that have experienced recent electoral conflict, nor a recent phenomenon. Instead, we highlight how peace narratives are pervasive across the sub-continent due to a
number of factors. This includes but is not limited to: the way that elections – in Africa, and elsewhere – are used to assert and perform state autonomy and an associated ideal of elections as orderly; the capacity of multiple actors to instrumentalise the ideal of orderly elections; a popular fear of electoral violence even where it is rare; a growing tendency to individualize responsibility for peace; and the availability of international funding. Taken together, these factors help to explain the rise of peace messaging. At the same time, we argue that the risk that this messaging will foster a “peaceocracy” varies markedly and that
the likelihood of incumbent manipulation is greatest in countries with a recent history of civil conflict and where the quality of democracy is already low.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalAfrican Affairs
Early online date22 Jul 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jul 2019


  • elections
  • peace campaigns
  • peace messaging
  • violence of peace peaceocracy
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Uganda


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