It should not be that hard to give $5 million to someone for the simple act of stepping down when one’s term in office ends and allowing democracy to function. And yet the Mo Ibrahim Foundation decided no African head of state earned its prestigious Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership this year. This is the second year in a row with no winner. (In 2015, the Foundation said that lack of winners was more because of daunting conditions than poor leadership.)
The establishment and exercise of democracy can be messy under the best of circumstances so this week’s election in Somalia, a country rendered dysfunctional by over 20 years of civil war, was bound to raise eyebrows. However flawed the process, the significance of Somalis taking the first step toward creating a successful state must not be overlooked.
The roller-coaster ride of Gambian democracy ended last week with longtime strongman Yahya Jammeh’s exit and exile.
The process was not perfect. It appears Jammeh was allowed to keep a fleet of luxury cars and an unknown but apparently staggering amount of cash he is said to have looted from this small, impoverished country. Nonetheless, Gambians have a chance to establish a lasting democracy and other African nations seem to have their backs in that endeavor.
An unsettling series of ups and downs followed the December 1 election. Jammeh said he would agree to step down if he were not re-elected and even conceded to former real estate agent Adama Barrow, declaring in a statement December 3, “I wish him all the best and I wish all Gambians the best.” Jammeh. In the days that followed, a number of opposition figures were released from jail. Continue reading “African Nations Again Unite to Uphold Democracy”
As feared, Joseph Kabila’s security forces have killed dozens of people protesting his refusal to exit the presidency December 19, as required under the country’s Constitution. The UN has confirmed 19 dead and scores wounded in the capital city of Kinshasa. There are reports of 10 dead and 47 wounded in the second largest city of Lubumbashi
Ever since winning a second full term in a universally discredited election in 2011, Democratic Republic of the Congo President Joseph Kabila has been doing everything he could to ensure the election of his successor, scheduled for this fall, would not take place. A story published by Bloomberg News today helps explain why: Kabila and his family have been looting the country.
Bloomberg News, with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, traced the Kabilas’ interests by amassing an archive of hundreds of thousands of pages of corporate documents. Given that so much of the DRC’s economy is informal and cash-based and transactions are notoriously opaque, it is impossible to determine the exact value of the illicit Kabila business empire. However, the documents that were obtained show the Kabilas have built a network of businesses that reaches into every corner of the DRC’s economy and enriched themselves with perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars. Continue reading “Kabila Hunkers Down in his Empire of Kleptomania Ahead of Constitutional End of Term Monday”
Ghana remains the beacon of hope for democracy in Africa. President John Mahama made a gracious speech conceding to long-time rival Nana Akufo-Addo and pledging a peaceful and stable transition December 10, continuing a 25-year democratic tradition.
The campaign was hard-fought, sometimes bitter, and close. This was Akufo-Addo’s third run for the presidency and a rematch of the hotly-contested race of 2012. Tensions were high for nearly three days as procedural snafus in some areas and a close vote delayed the official announcement of the results of the December 7 balloting. However, both men’s principled expressions of commitment to democracy fortified Ghanaians’ confidence in continuing on the path leading to stability and economic opportunity. Continue reading “Ghana’s Democracy Triumphs in Latest Presidential Vote”
After over 20 years of repressive rule, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh accepted defeat at the polls December 2. The highly unexpected development was a morsel of good news for African democracy and it thrilled Gambians.
“We have our country back,” the New York Times quoted taxi driver Modu Ceesay’s ecstatic proclamation. “This is our country, and now we have it.” Continue reading “Elections in Gambia and Ghana Offer a Glimmer of Hope for African Democracy”
Voting and governing are two critical but distinct components of democracy, just as vision and execution are elemental to business success. A feature in the New Republic this week provides a hopeful but instructive perspective on U.S. efforts to groom Africans who will soon take key leadership roles in their countries.
Democracy was in full bloom in Africa in the 1990s but it since stagnated in too many countries. Even in countries long regarded as democratic success stories such as Ghana and South Africa, corruption remains a serious problem. In Burkina Faso, Benin, and Nigeria, newly elected leaders face daunting challenges to deliver better governance and improvements in daily life. Democracy’s long-term prospects in Africa depend not only on historic elections and enlightened politicians but also on the individual commitment of thousands of people to become fully-engaged citizens who strive to make public and private institutions more competent and accountable. This will enable aspiring business people to thrive and fuel home-grown economic development and opportunity. Continue reading “U.S. and China Forging Bonds with Africa’s Future Leaders”
The BBC is reporting today that a priest was murdered in the city of Lubumbashi. While many details about the killing are unknown, it could be another sign that President Joseph Kabila’s machinations to postpone elections for up to two years are plunging the country into a state of violent uncertainty.
According to the BBC, Father Joseph Mulimbi Nguli was shot dead in a relative’s home by men wearing ski masks. The archdiocese of Lubumashi and the city’s police chief are calling for an investigation of this audacious killing. Continue reading “Today’s Reported Murder of a Priest the Latest Sign of the DRC in Crisis”
Ghana is often hailed as one of African democracy’s success stories. For over 25 years there have been regular elections with peaceful transitions from one major political party to another. In a little over a month, however, Ghana’s democracy could face its most serious test in years.
Not long ago, we noted the comments of President John Mahama before the United Nations General Assembly in which he gently told the international community to back off from scrutiny of his country’s democracy. There are reasons for his apparent defensiveness. There is mounting evidence that public discontent coupled with balloting procedure shortcomings could make for a tense and uncertain situation. Continue reading “A Looming Test for Ghana’s Democracy”