The price of African democracy

is a topic that seems to be exercising a few columnists this morning, and quite a few politicians. David Blair writes this in today’s Telegraph and asks the question “is Africa’s democratic experiment worth the cost in blood?”.

British Foreign Secretary David Milliband is quoted in many papers looking ahead to future elections in Angola , Malawi and Ghana and arguing that the Kenyan process has to be seen to be fair.

It’s an issue we’ve looked at- and talked about- many times and it also follows this column from  Mary Dejevsky asking whether we set too much store by democracy. Do we ? I heard an interview this morning on the Today Programme featuring two former British Foreign Secretaries discussing whether promoting democracy abroad should be a foreign policy (listen again at 7.50), particularly if the democracy one promotes goes wrong.

The global economy is another brewing story – with Larry Elliott wondering in the Guardian  if the world is approaching a “perfect economic storm” ? 

On a totally different note, our thanks to WHYS friend and participant Joe Given from Colorado. He very kindly left a box of Belgian chocolates on reception for us this morning and also caused some amusement when reception phoned the office asking if “Rose Atkins” was there. Thankyou Joe, and if Rose doesn’t get in soon, they will all have gone…

4 Responses to “The price of African democracy”

  1. 1 Chernor Jalloh
    January 3, 2008 at 14:49

    Africans have always paid with their own lives to achieve what we called ´´Democracy“.However,the rest of the world now begnning to understand the nexus behind Africa´s problems about the obstacles facing our African continent is good. In 1994,elections were held in Guinee Conakry,and the results were announced at midnight declaring the ailing president, Lansana Conte as the winner.And just after the announcement the army took to the streets and started firing in the air with live amunitions and in that process alot of people were killed in their homes by astray bullets falling on their roofs.Then one of the opposition learders was arrested and sent in prison for disputing the rsults.This is not democracy whereby the president who can hardly walk is still in power and there is lack of electricity,clean water in the country and above all inflation.He has ruled the country for morethan 25years and ethnicity is gripping the country even now that there is a little change through a bloody uprising. In previous years when the army saw their presidents were not serving the intrests of their people they would seize power,but now is just on the contrary. President yayah Jammeh of the Gambia threatened his people for him to be reelected during election day and that where the lack of democracy falls. Paul Biyah of Cameroon wanted to altr the constitution inorder to serve three terms while he has done nothing to develop his country.Last year some civil servants were sentenced to life for stealing public money.Africa is not yet ready for Democracy and our African brothers and sisters instead of spilling blood unnecessarily,we should accpt what ever the outcome of the resuts may be.And we have to keep on fasting and praying for change for our lovely African continent.

  2. 2 Bekele Woyecha, United Kingdom
    January 3, 2008 at 15:55

    The price of democracy has not yet won the required results in many parts of Africa. It looks the people of the continent, despite all economic and other challenges, are more than ready to pay every sacrifice to exercise their democratic rights. All elections related clashes we see in Africa are mainly prompted from people’s hunger for democracy and dictators’ hunger to remain in power. It is natural to seek changes and changes that come through democratic rights have better tests. It is unlikely to find one who does not relish the presence of free press, the right to assembly, the right to elect and be elected, the rights to exercise all the basic human rights. Yet getting all these rights seem to take more time, lives and courage in Africa as many of our so-called leaders are still far behind the people they claim to lead. Democracy looks very costly for these dictators as most of them are politically, economically and morally corrupt. These dictators are never ready to negotiate with the oppositions and always vow to crackdown oppositions forcefully. They rely on their guns. How long?
    These dictators have no trust and respect for others and expect every one to adhere to whatever they say and do. Yet people’s natural need for change and development is unstoppable in spite of temporary crack downs. What is currently happening in Kenya is mostly because of people’s hunger for democracy and change. Some may try to relate the crises to tribalism and ethnicity. That can not be the case as we have seen these people living together for long despite any differences. People resort to violence when they are robbed off their democratic rights. Dictators can do any thing in their capacity as long as it helps them to stay in power.
    Yet there should always be consistent struggle to enjoy democratic rights, as Mahatma Gandhi once said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

  3. 3 George
    January 4, 2008 at 21:04

    Larry Elliot of the Guardian makes an excellent point.

    I find myself humming

    “It’s begining to look like 1929.”

    To the tune of “It’s begenning to look a lot like Christmas”.

  4. 4 George
    January 5, 2008 at 20:31

    Ask David Blair of the Telegraph:

    When elections in the USA were stolen we did nothing.

    When elections in Kenya were stolen, they went to the streets.

    Which population is functioning as a democracy?

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