Africa: Acid Test for Democracy in Africa As 12 Nations Braced for Elections

Published on Ayyaantuu News Online (first on allAfrica), February 15, 2012.

… In the wake of the emergence of independence for South Sudan, what happens in Darfur will be of great significance for East Africa, and Africa as a whole. Ravaged by war for many years, Darfur has been one of the major hotspots on the African continent. 

Tellingly, it was the allegedly genocidal violence in Darfur that resulted in the issuing of a warrant of arrest for Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court.

Also of great significance this year will be developments in Libya and Egypt, the counties in Africa in which, together with Morocco, the so-called Arab uprising has had a major impact.

While in Egypt there will be elections for the Shura Council expected to steer the country’s political future, in post-Gaddafi Libya there will be the Public National Conference election expected to put paid to the uncertainties currently facing the troubled country.

Other countries holding either presidential or parliamentary elections this year include Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Togo and Sierra Leone. Also expected to hold polls before the year ends are Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso and Madagascar.

Regarding Senegal, the usually stable West African state has already set a blistering pace for the rest of Africa.

As the worrying political situation unfolds in that country, amidst mounting pre-election violence that has already claimed some lives, there is cause for concern about the future of democracy in Africa.

The situation in Senegal in fact presents a typical case study of the stubborn intransigence of the old order in the face of looming and inevitable generational change in Africa.

With incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade already having served the constitutional limit of two terms, he insists he can seek two more, arguing that the cap on two terms was introduced into the country’s constitution after his last re-election.

By all indications due for a well-deserved retirement, Wade has in recent times been displaying remarkable energy for an octogenarian, while insisting on holding onto the reins of power despite the fact that he is already 85.

Emboldened by a January 27 ruling by Senegal’s highest court that upheld his assertion, Wade is certainly the epitome of Africa’s power-hungry fogies who will not leave the political scene without a bloodied nose.

For his efforts, Wade has incurred the wrath of a livid opposition determined to see the last of him.

Contending that the incumbent’s bid for a third term is unconstitutional, the opposition has launched a protest movement to force him out of the race.

Dubbed the June 23 Movement, the united opposition has already brought together many out of the 14 candidates – including musician Youssour N’Dour – originally approved for the February 26 polls.

Already agreed about fielding one candidate against the obstinate Wade, the opposition has also stepped up protests against the incumbent.

These protests have been turning increasingly violent. In a show of rare self-confidence though, the beleaguered Wade has dismissed the mounting opposition action as “temper tantrums” and “a light breeze” … (full text).

Comments are closed.