In addition to disputed presidential elections in Zimbabwe and Kenya, where longtime incumbents refused to cede power after their opponents declared victory at the polls, last year’s ruling party victory in Nigeria was widely condemned as flawed. Uganda’s president changed the country’s constitution to stay in power. Ethiopian government forces killed about 200 opposition supporters after a 2005 vote.
Though there have been democratic success stories, such as Ghana and Sierra Leone, some see the coming years as a crucial period in determining whether much of Africa will move forward in embracing democracy.
“The continent right now seems caught in the middle between the good cases and bad cases,” said Chris Fomunyoh, senior associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute, which promotes democratic reform around the world.
Sadly, this seems rather plausible. For several decades there have been shining beacons of hope across Africa, but sadly many of them appear to burn brightly for a few years and then fade. (Remember Cote d’Ivoire – stable and relatively prosperous for decades before it descended into internal conflict?).
I’d be interested to see actual data, though. I suspect that the trend is upwards, even if there are disappointments on the way.