Africa: The Democratic Peril …

The democratic horizon is moving away while the time of the retreats of the civil and political liberties settles everywhere in Africa. Who does not see this grave danger that is so close!

By Adama Gaye *

It’s just a long nightmare. Like porcelain under the feet of an elephant, the African democratic dream is reduced to a heap of scattered debris. It is hard to believe that this was, long ago, the main justification for renewed hope around the African continent.

When it’s gone, there’s nothing left or nothing left. Everywhere is desolation. Democratization, under siege, is being pushed back by various forces, including those who have long fought under the pretext of rooting a culture and democratic practices in Africa. Examples of democratic regression are legion.

Thus in Algeria, Abdel Aziz Bouteflika, a paraplegic of more than 82 years, still seeks a presidential term – the 5th! Impotent, this ex-fancy torchbearer in the 1970s of the New World Economic and Political Order claim, clings to his chair, with the toxic help of generals who manipulate him. In Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Conakry, Senegal and even Gabon, where a democratic awakening was expected, this is the knock-out. Stunning, from a first round “cooked”. The enemies of democracy are thus back, in force, but in light, especially to mask their will to blow the constitutional limitations. False Democrats, real powerists, they even surround themselves with legal tailors whose expertise is sought to divert constitutional practices to conform to the contours of a new civil Caesarism.

In other countries, soldiers or paramilitaries, from Chad in Mauritania to Congo Brazzaville, have not only traded their khaki outfits for impeccable civilian suits. They have also become experts in the art of surviving, if needed via men. Elsewhere, in Egypt or Zimbabwe, the virility of the intelligence and security services, carried by horseshoes, has dealt the fatal blow to the illusion of political pluralism. Worse: despite the fact that the African Union has a facade to the democratic cause, professed in African fora at regional level, speeches and attributes are only democratic in appearance.

Their substance is empty. The rule: a man, a voice, is completed once. However they come to power, by arms or ballot boxes, the new crusaders of the African political leadership have all mastered the technique of life support. Even voting for minors in the strategy of ballot stuffing, as we saw in Senegal chaotic presidential election of February 24, 2019.

The failure of African democracy is to the dismay of the peoples of the continent. In the noisy silence of the promoters, national or international, of the democratic discourse. It is a general capitulation. All the actors, tired, are chloroformed, a tad accomplices of this defeat …

The African scene is sad. Democratic transitions are falsified or illusory, impossible. Fraud, manipulation of electoral files, transhumance in series, purchases of consciences of deprived populations, jams of ballot boxes, installation of authorities of electoral supervision or judicial accomplices, press domesticated, or laxity of the international community which is accomodates results “Retouched”, as in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). All these signs are not exhaustive, proving that political ingenieering has finally burned to the ground what at one point the most optimistic did not hesitate to call the African democratic spring.

The cries of joy have stopped. And, in a few years, the dream has turned into a nightmare. From Khartoum to Algiers, Dakar or Harare, the street, taken with disillusion, does not even seem to have the strength to fight anymore. Democratic fashion is withering away …

What a change! Exactly thirty years ago, in the wake of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the collapse of communism and the explosion of political pluralism as a source of management for countries around the world, those of Africa were the most excited. Everywhere across this continent, which the most vicious liked to call black, long under the yoke of civil and military autocracies, it was not just the dawn of a new day that seemed to be rising. Suddenly, once again singing the chachacha refrain that had punctuated the first years of independence that had occurred here and there since the end of the 1950s, Africans believed themselves to be in a new era of tonic political liberation. sunny.

Bathed by the rays of a democratization projected throughout its fifty states, The African renewal promised the moon to the African peoples. It was a moment of madness: public speech, especially political, was liberated; national conversations were summoned here and there with the onslaught of raging chatters reinventing the wheel of revolutions elsewhere; and emerging new elites, sometimes technocratic, anxious to break the neo-colonial chains or woven by international financial institutions.

By carefully observing what is happening today on the continent, against a backdrop of political vandalism and unprecedented corrupt venality, who is not tempted to say to himself: all for that!

Africa, despite the theoretical proclamations of its economic emergence, has returned to square one. In an impasse all the more serious as it is coated with a rhetoric grandiloquent that only its peoples invaded by a structural poverty against a backdrop of denial of democratic freedom suffer full force.

It is a heavy danger that has taken the place of democratic hope; it is unfortunately only at its beginnings, pests …


* Adama Gaye, Senegalese journalist is author of: Tomorrow, New Africa-Editions l’Harmattan, Paris.

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