UN police stand guard outside the Golf Hotel, where Ivory Coast opposition leader Alassane Ouattara has attempted to govern while incumbent Laurent Gbagbo rules from the presidential palace in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Dec. 16, 2010.
"Is Africa Losing its Taste for Democracy?"
Op-Ed, The Huffington Post
December 16, 2010
Author: John F. McCauley, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program/Initiative on Religion in International Affairs, 2010–2011
The recent failed election in Cote d'Ivoire, which has generated competing claims to the presidency and a high risk of return to widespread violence, is the latest in a series of electoral setbacks in sub-Saharan Africa. Coming on the heels of significant democratic progress during the 1990s, Africans and international advocates for democracy are now left to ask: does democratization promise an enduring advance in political participation and fairness in Africa, or is it nothing more than a leadership experiment on the wane?
In 2007, Daniel Posner and Daniel Young compiled data on how African leaders have left office since the beginning of Independence. What they found was a remarkable embrace of democratic norms between the 1980s and 2000s: prior to that period, less than 30 percent of leaders left office through regular means (natural death, voluntary resignation, or electoral defeat), yet by 2005 that figure had soared to over 80 percent. Indeed, sub-Saharan African leaders had come to behave remarkably similarly to leaders from the rest of the world. Since that report, however, political leaders have ignored electoral defeat to remain in power in Kenya and Zimbabwe; coups have toppled governments in Guinea, Madagascar, and Niger; and the Central African Republic has postponed elections. Now Cote d'Ivoire, a once prosperous and proud nation that has undergone a decade of turmoil, has ensured its place on the list of African states whose leaders fail to relinquish power democratically....
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