Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation

The autumn of African Democracies

http://www.africarivista.it 09.02.2022 Gianfranco Belgrano Translated by: Jpic-jp.org

On the African continent, is a democratic recess on the way? The question that has been circulating in the various international think-tanks for some time has found answers of various tones and is now taken up by the monthly “Africa e Affari.” (Translated by Alissa D’Vale)

The question is brought up since heads of state are seeking a third term, voices are shouting about alleged and real coups (successful or not) – 2021 has certainly not been sparse in tensions. And 2022 seems to want to continue along this same path: in January, in Burkina Faso, the military put an end to the experience of Roch Marc Christian Kaboré. Just a week later, at the beginning of February, an attempted coup d’état – with outlines still poorly defined – occurred in Guinea Bissau.

Various answers have been given – reminds Africa e Affari – to the hypothesis of faltering African democracies. Available data, for example, say that yes, on the African continent, democracy has transformed into various forms of authoritarianism. And the area most affected by this phenomenon is undoubtedly the Sahel region: Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso are the three countries that have been under the spotlight of the international community. If we then add Chad (where, after the death of President Idriss Deby Itno, shot dead, control of the country passed to his son Mahamat) and the Sudan of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the picture is more complete and at the same time more disturbing.

The American Freedom House has tried to give numerical nature to these opinions: in the ranking of 210 countries placed according to civil liberties and internal politics in its latest 2021 report, only eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa appear in the free countries’ column. Among them, the most significant are Ghana and South Africa, the others are island states or low population density nations such as Namibia and Botswana.

Looking through the report, however, the most emblematic data is the trend: because along with the column of free countries and countries in limbo of partially free countries, there are 20 countries that in 2021 have been classified as not free. If we consider that in 2006 there were 14, we have an idea of the direction that was taken.

Various analysts interpret this setback as a phenomenon related to the pandemic and therefore to its economic and social effects, to the inability of governments to respond to the needs of their populations (hence the spread of armed extremism), to blame for the West, accused of still serving its own interests by forging relationships with corrupt and predatory executives, and with the signs of new actors like China, presenting, apparently, more adequate development solutions.

In short, it seems that Africa, like other areas of the world, is looking for new structures simply because the systems put in place so far (and we are sixty years after independence) have not produced the desired results, and this is sadly true.

But there is some hope. There are countries, not just the often-mentioned, Ghana, where democratic institutions are working. In Liberia and Sierra Leone, recent elections have led to peaceful changes of government; in Kenya and Malawi the judiciary has stood firm against abuses of executive power; in Zambia, attempts to subvert democratic institutions have been blocked at the polls.

Is this sufficient counterweight? No. Concludes the editorial Africa e Affari, but it is an important indicator that democracy in Africa works if there is adequate leadership, sincere international partners and development shared by all in the country.

Read L’autunno delle democrazie africane

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