bulletin of the AFRICA PROGRESS PANELVolume 5, Issue 7 — 5 April 2012
Africa Progress Panel
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Deepening and consolidating the democratic transformations taking place in Africa, as well as strengthening regional and global governance arrangements, remain key challenges for African countries. As two recent developments in West Africa demonstrate, the prospect of collapse remains an ever-present threat, even in countries deemed to be role models in the practice of democracy. Some believe that this is consistent with American political scientist Larry Diamond’s thesis that democracy is receding around the world.
The recent Senegalese election exemplified the teething pains of even the most long-standing and robust of democracies. Despite repeated efforts by octogenarian President Abdoulaye Wade to subvert the Constitution, the voice of the people prevailed and Wade was eventually forced to concede defeat to his opponent, Macky Sall, after a second round run-off. The country has passed what the Brookings Institute Press referred to as a ‘stress test’ for democracy. Senegal had run the risk of losing its reputation as the only persistently democratic country in the West African sub-region, one that had never experienced a military coup, in which multipartyism had reigned supreme for close to 50 years.
Then there is the case of last month’s military coup in Mali. As ECOWAS Chair and Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara noted in a March 28 AP News story, the coup threatens to disrupt over two decades of democratic governance in Mali, a country previously considered as one of the most stable in the region. Occurring just a few weeks before a planned general election after which the incumbent president Amadou Toumani Touré was to have stepped down, the coup is considered a mockery of Mali’s democratic tradition. The rationale for the coup – a protest by junior officers against president Touré’s perceived mismanagement of the fight against Tuareg secessionists in the north of the country – has ironically left Mali in greater danger of being over-run by the rebels, and more vulnerable than ever before to attack from Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) operatives. ECOWAS has issued a 72-hour ultimatum to return Mali to civilian rule or face intervention from a regional force.
As a direct result of the Mali situation, peace and stability in the West African sub-region is under increasing threat. Small arms liberated from the Libyan conflict are circulating freely; AQIM is operating with near-impunity from bases in the Sahelian desert; populations are on the move, displaced by the latest round of conflict; while evidence continues to surface of military and civilian involvement in drug trafficking. All this adds up to what the Citizen newspaper’s David Lewis describes as a “toxic cocktail.”
The coup in Mali calls into question the robustness of existing regional security arrangements and calls for strengthened regional solutions to address such threats. The challenges to security in West Africa are multi-dimensional and have been long in the making, including a succession of some of Africa’s most brutal armed conflicts, and might have been anticipated by the AU and ECOWAS (both of which were convening in Mali at the time of the coup).
Given the proven potential for civil unrest and armed conflict, more needs to be done by regional organizations to identify vulnerabilities in the governance of member states and address them before they escalate into major issues. While ECOWAS and the African Union have been quick in lobbying for the restoration of the constitution in Mali, so far their approach to governance and security issues seems to be guided more by crisis management than crisis prevention. Establishing or strengthening regional mechanisms for enhanced early warning and rapid response to security flashpoints should be an immediate priority; long-term stability and socio-economic progress can only prosper where there is trust in the rule of law.
These above themes are discussed at length in the 2012 Africa Progress Panel Report, which will be launched at the World Economic Forum in Addis Ababa in May 2012.
*APP bi-weekly editorial as featured on allafrica.com.
- A week after Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade conceded defeat in his pursuit of a third term in office; the president’s former protégé, Macky Sall is sworn into office to become the country’s first new leader in 12 years. Observers say, Senegal seemed once again, to be providing a calm lesson in democracy to its turbulent peers in the region.
- The nomination of Khairat al-Shatir by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as their candidate for the upcoming presidential elections in May raises anxiety amongst citizens. The sudden reversal of their pledge to stay out of the race could widen the gap between liberals and secularists which many fear could cause conflict in an already unstable region.
- A few days before the president of Sudan and South Sudan were scheduled to meet to settle disputes, renewed clashes broke out in the oil-rich border region between the armed forces. This recent development is regarded as the biggest confrontation since the countries split last July and raises doubt as to whether negotiations could proceed.
- Mali's leading political parties rejected on Wednesday an offer by the junta to hold a national convention to discuss a handover of power to civilians, saying it doubted the talks would bring about a legitimate government. Analysts argue that the situation in Mali ‘has taken a turn for the worse’. It not only poses major security risks for its neighbors, it is also contributing to the food crisis in the Sahel region.
- African Union endorses Okonjo-Iweala for World Bank
- African Union launches fresh bid to capture Kony
- AU troops in Somalia seize key militant area, including an airstrip and hospital, on the outskirts of Mogadishu
- African Union suspends Mail in wake of military coup
- WTO reviews EAC status as a trading bloc. WTO has never recognized the community as a regional trading bloc but instead has dealt with individual partner states
- EAC earmarks $7.3 million for a project aimed to improve collaborative trans boundary management of the Lake Victoria basin and reduce environmental stresses like pollution and catchment degradation
- The ECOWAS Commission and the UN are jointly producing a television documentary that will project the contributions of women in regional cross-border trade
- The ECOWAS Bank for International Development (EBID) plans to pump about $1.5 billion into the economy of the sub-region under a four-year programme which is aimed at improving key sectors in order to promote socio-economic growth
- FAO appeals for urgent funding to build strength against the food crisis in the Horn of Africa funds
- IFAD to fund agricultural development project to reduce rural poverty in Côte d'Ivoire
- Infertile land in Gambia put to plough due to joint AfDB/IFAD/government water project
- UN, AU call for urgent Sudan summit
- New UN-NEPAD partnership seeks to advance HIV/AIDS response across Africa
- World Bank support for social safety net to benefit 8.3 million Ethiopians by 2015
- World Bank-supported safety net program to benefit 1.5 million poor people in Tanzania
- World Bank approves Cameroon’s Lom Pangar Dam Project to boost economic growth and provide more reliable power for up to five million people
- World Bank boosts support to Malawi’s HIV/AIDS Plan and Maternal and Child Nutrition Services
Coups in Africa since 2000
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - 15 March 2003 (General Bozizé)
SAO TOME E PRINCIPE - 16 July 2003 (Major Fernando Pereira)
GUINEA-BISSAU - 14 September 2003 (General Verissimo Correira Seabra)
MAURITANIA - 3 August 2005 (Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall)
MAURITANIA - 6 August 2008 (General Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz)
GUINEA - 23 December 2008 (Captain Moussa Dadis Camara)
2010 NIGER - 18 February 2010 (Cavalry Major Salou Djibo)
2012 MALI - 21 March 2012 (Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo)
In the blogs...
- Impatient Optimists: Contraception is not controversial, 4 April 2012 - Nobel Laureate, Leymah Gbowee joins Melinda Gates and family planning advocates around the world to change the conversation on contraception. She states that ‘this issue is not too controversial to discuss but, rather, not to discuss it is what should be considered controversial.’
- African Arguments: Mali: The hot season is coming, 30 March 2012 The author writes about the challenges people in Mali are facing at the moment, not just in terms of the fighting and growing insecurity, but also with regards to the drought and food shortages.
- The Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog: Could Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala head the World Bank? Yes, if five things happen, 29 March 2012 Lant Pritchett, a professor at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Governance, argues that Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala could and should be elected to head the World Bank – but only if five thing happen.
- Impatient Optimists: On my way to Africa, 28 March 2012 – Bill Gates writes about his upcoming trip to Zambia, where he’ll be looking at various malaria interventions, and Ethiopia, where he’ll be checking up on the Agricultural Transformation Agency and other projects.
- The Daily Maverick (South Africa): Scrutinising South Africa’s inclusion in Brics, 3 April 2012 The author analyses the various arguments for and against South Africa’s inclusion in the Brics.
- allAfrica.com (Pan-African): Nigeria: Ngozi for president, 2 April 2012 – Richard Dowden, Director of the Royal African Society, writes about the World Bank’s history in Africa and why he thinks Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the best person to head the Bank.
- The Daily Nation (Kenya): Kenya needs a prudent national oil policy, 1 April 2012 – The author argues that, in light of the recent announcement that oil has been found in Turkana, the government should implement a national oil policy so as to avoid the “oil curse” and make the most of the find.
- Aljazeera (Qatar): Massive corruption does not justify Malian coup, 31 March 2012 – This piece argues that the excuses given for the coup in Mali do not warrant the overthrow of a democratically elected government and set a dangerous precedent.
- The Economist (UK): African democracy: Representative government is still on the march in Africa, despite recent hiccups, 31 March 2012 – The editorial argues that although representative government in Africa has faced some challenges in recent months (and years), there is still reason to be optimistic.
- The Guardian (UK): Boom time in Mozambique, once the basket case of Africa, 28 March 2012 – The author discusses the economic growth of, and foreign investment in, Mozambique and other African economies but questions what effect this has had on reducing inequalities on the continent.
- Le Pays (Burkina Faso) Démocratie en Afrique: La nécessité d’un second souffle , 23 March 2012 – Freddy Mulongo, argues that African democracy needs, now more than ever, a big push following the recent events in Senegal and Mali to prevent the risk of democratic regression on the continent. He highlights that African governance is a complex process that currently goes one step ahead and two steps backwards and invites Africans to favor strong institutions instead of strong men to ensure African democracy takes roots.
We cannot allow this country endowed with such precious democratic instruments, dating back at least two decades, to leave history by regressing. It's why Mali needs to immediately return its democratic institutions to normal, this position is nonnegotiable.
- Alassane Ouattara, the president of Ivory Coast and Chair of ECOWAS
- South Africa and Australia in celestial spat to win the right to host the world's most powerful telescope
- The Fourth BRICS summit end with a declaration on ‘Partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity’, which calls for accelerating growth, sustainable development, and food and energy security
- China ready to handover $90m conference building to the Malawian government
- Africa's exports to China explode. China is set to become Africa's largest export destination this year, reflecting a dramatic change since 2008, when Africa exported half as much to China as it did to the US
- EU to Increase Investment in Zimbabwe
- EU extends range of its anti-piracy patrols, allowing strikes inside Somalia
- France rules out sending soldiers to Mali
- French court backs Rwanda extradition request. The court has agreed that the suspect should be extradited to Rwanda to face charges of genocide in the central African state. It is the country’s first extradition of one of its citizens
- German Foreign Minister, Westerwelle, demands reinstatement of the constitution and an end to hostilities in Mali
- Bharti Airtel launches mobile services in Rwanda, taking its presence in Africa to 17 countries
- UK Minister for Africa welcomes the transfer of 17 convicted pirates from the Seychelles to Somaliland
- United States to provide additional $120 million in emergency assistance to the Sahel this year, bringing their total humanitarian aid to the region to $200 million
- International Community Announces New Partnership to Strengthen Resilience against Disasters in the Horn of Africa
|7 April||World Health Day|
|7 April||Day of Remembrance of the victims of the Rwanda Genocide|
|12-13 April||"What Works" conference on Internationalisation for Job Creation and Economic Growth: Increasing Coherence of Government and System Policies at a Time of Global Crisis, organised by the OECD and the State University of New York: New York, USA|
|19-21 April||African Conference on "Measuring Well-Being and Fostering the Progress of Societies," organized in collaboration with the High Commission of Planning of Morocco (HCP), OECD, PARIS21, AfDB and UNECA: Rabat, Morocco.|
|20 April 2||Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meetings - “Economic Gains from Water and Sanitation:” Washington, D.C|
|22-22 April||IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings & G20 Finance Ministers/Central Bank Governors meetings: Washington, D.C|