African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 389

Full Length Research Paper

Elections as a strategy for democratization and conflict transformation: Liberal peace and the 1996 elections in Sierra Leone

  Zubairu Wai
Department of Political Science, 2041 Ryan Building, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 5E1, Ontario, Canada. 
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 23 November 2010
  •  Published: 31 May 2011



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.