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Contested Elections In Africa: Unpacking The Normative Roles of Courts In Electoral Processes

Ugochukwu Ezeh
University of Oxford
United Kingdom

This presentation contributes to the discourse on democratic decline in fledgling democracies by thematising a significant phenomenon: the increasing judicialisation of highly charged electoral politics in Africa. Courts, election candidates, pro-democracy activists, and other politico-constitutional actors in a range of African jurisdictions have sought – with varying degrees of success and failure – to invoke judicial power as a remedial mechanism against the onslaught of electoral malpractices and other forms of democratic decline. Accordingly, this presentation discusses three normative functions courts may fulfil within the electoral processes of nascent democracies in Africa. Within the limits of judicial authority, courts may: invalidate electoral malpractices; facilitate the independence of core democratic institutions (such as electoral management bodies); and edify democratising polities by disseminating constitutional norms and democratic values.



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