This paper examines the 1996 elections in Sierra Leone and its connection to the twin processes of democratization and conflict transformation in that country. It interprets those elections as part of an emerging liberal peace agenda which since the 1990s has become the dominant approach to managing conflicts, peace-building, societal reconstruction and democratization favoured by international policy community for areas in the emerging from conflicts around the world. Three themes are pursued in this paper: (a) specifying the liberal peace agenda, which is interpreted as an ideological and neo-imperialist posture; (b) illustrating how the interpretations and representations of contemporary conflicts have helped in legitimating the hegemony of this liberal agenda; and, (c) examining the 1996 elections in relation to that agenda. By examining the Sierra Leone example, this paper seeks to problematise the assumption that elections can lead to conflict transformation and democracy in societies affected by, or emerging from armed conflicts and civil wars.
Key words: Sierra Leone, Liberal peace, elections, democratization, conflict transformation.
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