Friday, February 18, 2011

Democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa

Jason McLure, an Africa correspondent for a number of well-known publications, has a lengthy piece in Global Researcher dated Feb. 15, 2011 (volume 5, issue 4) titled “Sub-Saharan Democracy: Is Freedom in Retreat in Africa?”

Although written before the recent dramatic developments in North Africa and the Middle East, McLure provides a good analysis of the situation in sub-Saharan Africa.

His article quotes me as follows:
Even in countries such as Kenya and Ivory Coast, which experienced decades of stability after independence, ethnic tensions have led to political crises in recent years. “Ethnicity is holding its own as a potent political force in Africa,” says David Shinn, a former U.S. ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. “Few African countries have managed to overcome this scourge.”

A key test of the resource curse will be Ghana, a democratic country with a much larger and more diverse population than Botswana. Ghana began pumping offshore oil from its Jubilee field in December. Flanking Ivory Coast on the east, Ghana has functioned as a democracy for nearly two decades and peacefully transferred power between rival parties in 2000 and 2008. Though corruption is a problem, the country is considered less corrupt than more developed countries like Italy, Thailand and Brazil according to Transparency International. “Ghana is an important test case if it can be the first in Africa to maintain relatively democratic government and avoid the oil curse,” says ambassador Shinn.

“Enlightened African leaders will spur democratic reforms,” says Shinn, the longtime U.S. African diplomat. “Without enlightened leadership that really believes in democratic principles, I doubt there will be much improvement. Too many leaders are interested in remaining in power at any cost.”
For my complete response written early last December to McClure’s questions, see below:
Democracy in Africa

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