ROLE OF REGIONAL ECONOMIC ORGANISATION IN ELECTORAL DISPUTES; CASE STUDY OF EAST AFRICA COMMUNITY

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The East Africa Community (EAC) is a regional economic organization in Africa. It is one of the most affected regions by electoral disputes with most of its member states having experienced electoral violenceexcept Tanzania. The EAC is capable of solving electoral disputes but it has not been successful in doing so.This is despite the fact that it has a protocol on democracy and good governance. The EAC lacks the capability and authority for effectively dealing with electoral disputes in the region due to fear of interference with the soverignty of member states. The main objective of the study was to scrutinize the role played by regional economic organisations in solving and handling disputes emanating from elections. The research concentrated on the EAC as the case study. Specific objectives of the study were to discuss the impact of electoral disputes on citizens of EAC; to analyse challenges that EAC faced in handling electoral disputes; and to discuss strategies that EAC used in handling electoral disputes. The study looked into the theoretical frameworks that advanced integration ajenda as propagated by realism, Copenhagen school of thought and neo-functionalism. The study adopted descriptive research design. Data was collected through available information in published materials such as books, internet sources and interviews. The study discovered that electoral disputes were not only a problem to the people in the country undergoing elections but the whole region as well. Therefore the study emphasized the need for EAC to take electoral disputes as a regional issue which could not be ignored and not as a national issue. The study recommended that the EAC work closely with its partner states to ensure that elections were not characterized by violence and incase a dispute arouse then peaceful methods of dealing with the issues were to be adopted. Prior to that the study also suggested that the EAC be responsible for protecting the rights of its citizens without fear or intimidation and incase a country violated these rights then it should interfere with the member state and deal with the matter before violence erupted. Finally the study also recommended that the EAC start dealing with its own election disputes so that international organisations are not called upon to solve its problems.

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