Edgar Lungu, Zambia's leader, has led the regional fray in promoting a government of national unity in response to the Democratic Republic of Congo's contested election. Never mind the absence of a sense of irony. After the disputed 2016 Zambian election, Lungu refused to accept external involvement, arguing that the elections were an internal matter.
In this excerpt from the conclusion of the recently released Democracy Works; Rewiring Politics to Africa's Advantage, the writers make recommendations for outsiders in the management of elections, including on governments of national unity.
Outsiders have a role to play in making democracy work, though insiders must lead and own change. The institutions that donors crave are, however, as in their own countries, to be founded on values and shared interests, and are thus a product of domestic politics. Inasmuch as they can influence outcomes, outsiders have to take care not to allow short-term stability and narrow commercial interests to trump democratic principles, since neglecting the latter usually destroys the former.
Outsiders must take great care in monitoring and opining about elections because they can be easily exploited by authoritarians with a well-developed playbook.
Election monitoring is particularly difficult because of what authoritarians have learnt....