Kerry Provides Money and Moral Support for Democracy in Africa

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest trip to Africa is serving to underscore democracy’s critical role in fighting terror and promoting the long-term stability on the continent.

Kerry announced this week the United States is investing over $25 million to ensure a smooth presidential election process next year in Kenya. His use of the word “investing” was almost certainly deliberate. It signals the United States has a stake in the successful evolution of African democracy over the long term. In business parlance, the U.S. wants a return on its investment. On a practical level, an increasingly stable and secure Kenya, a nation of 50 million people, should serve to strengthen the fragile democracies in neighboring countries.

To Kenya’s south, voters are heading to the polls this weekend in Tanzania. While the ruling CCM party has dominated the country for the 54 years of its independence, current president, Jakaya Kikwete, is honoring constitutional term limits, following his second five-year term. Voters are increasingly impatient with sluggish progress on economic development under the CCM and contested election results could test the country’s overall stability. Continue reading “Kerry Provides Money and Moral Support for Democracy in Africa”

Sanctions are Starting to Work in the DRC and Must be Expanded

When it comes to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the United States has an urgent and stark choice. The U.S. can expand the use of targeted sanctions and other financial pressure to help facilitate the Constitutional conclusion of the failed presidency of Joseph Kabila. Or it can maintain the status quo and risk this nation of 80 million people descending into chaos and violence.

Kabila took the reins in the DRC upon the assassination of his father, Laurent Kabila.  In 2006, Joseph Kabila was elected to his first full term as President in balloting deemed reasonably free and fair by the international community. However, his reelection in 2011 was largely regarded as fraudulent and illegitimate. Under the Congolese Constitution, Kabila must leave office on December 19, 2016, but over the last 20 months he has engaged in a series of duplicitous and deadly maneuvers to avoid this reality and attempt to hold onto power past his constitutional mandate.

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Kofi Annan’s Tour de Force for Democracy

It is worth reading some insights on the connection between democracy and tangible improvement in daily life from one of Africa’s most esteemed elder statesmen, former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

In a recent speech in his native Ghana, Annan said the integrity of elections holds the prospects for rapid economic growth and prosperity. He urged political leaders and others to uphold the democratic tenets of inclusion, integrity and courage that foster a peaceful society.

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Foreign Policy Experts Tell Senators That Sanctions Work

Sanctions have long been a favorite policy tool for the United States and other countries for thwarting human rights abuses, drug trafficking and terrorist activities. Experts say sanctions’ effectiveness on some of the more nefarious regimes in sub-Sahara Africa depends on whether they are targeted, timely and complement broader multilateral efforts.

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Free and Fair Elections at Risk in The Gambia

Rare is the reformer who stays in power for 20 years or more. Generally, the longer a political leader’s tenure, the more likely that repression replaces reform. The veneer of democracy wears thin in time and eventually disappears altogether. Popular restlessness for a better life is cast as a threat to national security and enforcing the unhappy status quo becomes the chief occupation of the ruler. The latest example of this phenomenon is in The Gambia under President Yahya Jammeh.

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DRC Opposition Leaders Seek Sanctions and Insist Elections Are Possible

Olivier Kamitatu, the Vice President of the G-7 coalition of political parties opposing Democratic Republic of the Congo President Joseph Kabila’s maneuvers to avoid elections this fall, has a simple message for Washington policymakers.

“The political space in the DRC is closed,” he said at a forum May 19 hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center in partnership with United for Africa’s Democratic Future. “We know today he will not hold elections and we need your help more than ever.”

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