As many African countries continue down the path of democratic reform, Africa’s defense and security forces must make fundamental changes to adapt to a democratic model of governance, including adopting higher standards of leadership in order to professionalize security forces. This is a key finding in the Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ latest Security Brief, “Democracy and the Chain of Command: A New Governance of Africa’s Security Sector,” by Brigadier General Dominique Djindjere, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Burkina Faso.
General Djindjere puts forward five priority reforms Africa’s defense and security forces must pursue. In addition to building professionalism, he says the legitimacy and trust security forces will gain in the eyes of their compatriots from this process will lead to greater effectiveness and popular support for national security efforts.
The paper points out that Africa is not alone in the problem of continuing influence of security forces on politics around the world and cites crises in Honduras, Turkey, Bangladesh, and other countries. Whereas in the past when Africa’s political crises turned into tragic confrontations, such military actions were often justified as a nation’s sovereign right.
“This chaotic state of affairs,” writes General Djindjere, “is no longer acceptable. Much of Africa is now firmly committed to furthering the standards of democracy and human rights that have advanced over the past two decades.”
The paper highlights that politicians’ adherence to constitutional limits on power will avoid placing military officers in the untenable position of choosing between respecting civilian authority and upholding democracy. In addition, the paper recommends that security cooperation and assistance from international partners should favor African states with a track record of responsible governance within the security sector. [ENGLISH] [FRENCH]