Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2012: The African Autocratic Revival

Several African nations appear set to reverse their democratic gains in 2012, which has prompted the Christian Science Monitor to question whether 2012 will mark the return of the African Despot.

I have previously commented on the situation in Senegal here:

A constitutional court ruled that President Abdoulaye Wade could run for a third term, in spite of a two term limit that Wade himself signed into law after his election in 2001. Wade had argued that he could run again because he had been elected under the old constitution, a claim the five judges all appointed by Wade, agreed with.

In the Congo, Joseph Kabila was declared the winner of last November’s elections, despite widespread irregularities and poor organization led international observers to declare results inconclusive and one opposition candidate declared himself present before votes were cast.

 Not helping matters, the main negotiator between Kabila and the opposition parties was killed in a plane crash on Feb. 12th, complicating the task of government formation.

Zimbabwe still has Mugabe. Mugabe is vowing to run in the 2013. He’s served as prime minister and president for the last thirty two years. Opposition forces are trying to draft a constitution to block such long tenures, but Mugabe has vowed to never sign such measures.

 Even more disheartening, he’s banned twenty nine aid groups, that provide valuable aid to Zimbabweans at risk of starvation.

In Malawi, President Bingu’s creeping autocracy and economic mismanagement has caused international donors, most notably the IMF to suspend loans and financial aid to the country.

 Bingu has also imprisoned human rights workers and journalists for questioning his governing/lifestyle and he expelled the British ambassador for calling the President “becoming more autocratic and intolerant of criticism.


Though Mugabe is no surprise, this is disheartening for democratic development in Africa.

Western analysts saw great hope in the regimes Senegal and Congo, who themselves defeated autocrats to ascend to power, amid promises of reform.

Apparently, the iron law of oligarchy is stronger then we thought.

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