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Here are five lessons for writing a constitution that can help prevent violence


Former Tanzanian prime minister and presidential candidate Edward Lowassa greets the crowd as he arrives to hold a campaign meeting  Oct. 1 in Dar es Salaam. Tanzanian citizens will elect a new president  Oct. 25. (Daniel Hayduk/AFP/Getty Images)

Tanzanians are going to the polls this month, and the constitution will be one of the biggest issues. Here’s the problem: the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party had agreed to reform it in ways that would loosen its tight grip on power — but delayed a constitutional referendum scheduled for last April until after the October vote. The upcoming elections have therefore become a de facto referendum on the country’s future — and the future of its constitution, any nation’s blueprint for how to distribute political power. Tensions are high, and opposition groups are warning of possible election violence.

The case of Tanzania raises questions about how constitutions affect peace and democracy in a country. Are some forms of constitutional design better at managing conflict than others in Africa? That’s exactly the question that two recent political science books take on. Here are the five major takeaways. Click here to read the full report.

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