The challenge of peaceful transition from dictatorship to an elected government

Posted on May 15, 2008. Filed under: 0. Peace, 1. World Peace, 4. Peace in East Africa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

There is a growing and strong tendency to wards government elected by and answerable to the people. Because such governments tend to meet peoples’ aspirations for freedom and justice, such governments tend to work to promote the interest of the people. Since there are less conflicts and conflicts are peacefully and legally resolved, less energy and resource is wasted on ‘law’ and ‘order’ maintenance.


All form of dictatorial governments i.e. military, one party rule or personal dictatorship what ever their path to power tend to be alienated from the people and as the time progress they relay more and more on the coercive power of the state to stay in power. This breeds civil and violent resistance. The realities of many of these states in Latin America, Asia and Africa manifest extreme economic hardship and social injustice.


What are the forces of change?

  • The inability of the ruling elite to meet the people need for economic welfare and demand for justice
  • The increasing disaffection of the population and their determination to express their opposition in peaceful and none peaceful ways
  • Growing dissent and rivalry within the ruling elite
  • International pressure and condemnation by international community against atrocities of such dictatorial regimes


What are the obstacles for peaceful change?

  • Die hard mentality of the few to hang on power by violent means.
  • Leaders’ unwillingness to guide people to deal with ethnic differences, and letting problems grow and exploiting them to stay in power.
  • Lack of strong opposition party who can articulate on political agenda; organize and lead people in peaceful civil obedience and be able to negotiate change(s).
  • The opposition resorting to destructive and violent ways
  • Focusing in differences instead of working together in many areas that unites citizens
  • Inability to accept defeat
  • Internal and external forces which includes countries who have interest  in the instability of other nation(s) in order to exploit resources and countries who have benefits in the conflict in order to sell arms


How can the peaceful change be facilitated?

  • Renounce violence as means of holding or ascending to power.
  • Assure those in power that they will not be subject to retribution for their act while in power (unless extreme act against humanity) they can peacefully pursue their life and occupation like any other citizen. They can even organize political party and compete peacefully.
  • The opposition should refrain from demonizing those in power but honestly express their difference. Assure the population they will subject themselves to democratic rule of governance.
  • Wherever possible form a transitional national unity government made up of all the political parties. This creates confidence and ground for fair election and strengthens democratic transition.
  • Work together in all possible means to the best interest of the country and its citizens
  • Learn from leaders who relinquished their power as did Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Julius Nerere of Tanzania and Léopold Sédar Senghor of Ivory Coast (Cote D’Ivoire)


Please join us in discussing this pertinent topic by posting your opinion on all or any part of the above thesis.


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4 Responses to “The challenge of peaceful transition from dictatorship to an elected government”

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I agree with your article that violence is not the way to have meaningful change. A change that will not create more conflicts that end up creating more problems that the change resolved.

I’d like to quote Mahatma Gandhi, the great leader of Indian independence who was able to peacefully bring about change for India, freeing it from the jaws of the most powerful nation in the world – “Great Britain” who said: “Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”

A peaceful path to democracy, has to be able NOT to demonize the government in power, look for common ground and compromises through negotiation, and not seek complete humiliation and surrender of the opponents.

To chose the opposite of this will only open or continue the cycle of violence and retribution that will subvert the democracy that is a desirable goal.

Let’s seek and work a more lasting solution to Democracy that will be based on a peaceful path, that will embrace different parts of the society and include them in the bright future we can achieve.

Peace To the World!!

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