Two West African states began the 1990s with newly formed democratic governments. By the close of the decade, Benin had further consolidated democracy while Niger experienced a series of destabilizing events culminating in a coup d’état. These differing trajectories are due largely to a sequence of key political reforms implemented in Benin that insured continued donor assistance and support, according to Gazibo. His analysis may provide lessons to avoid democratic setbacks in other African states.
African coups occasionally prompt upbeat assertions that, though unconstitutional, such actions may conveniently remove ineffective governments. But standing African Union (AU) declarations protect constitutional governance in Africa, not effective governance. To better protect both constitutional and effective governance, AU agreements should consider more specific guidance on executive term limits and institutional checks-and-balances.
A classic piece in which Hutchful analyzes the history of political activity of Africa’s armed forces. Many African militaries have assumed a range of political roles since independence, and, consequently, transition to democratic control of the armed forces will likely be a long-term process that mere constitutional structures cannot guarantee. Rather, budgetary, institutional, training, and doctrinal devices will be needed to prevent military coups and political infringement in the short- and medium-term, Hutchful concludes.
This official document marked a turning point in the continent’s organizing body. The Organization of African Unity had bucked its traditional posture of non-interference in the domestic affairs and changes in political control of its member states by condemning several unconstitutional changes in African states during the 1990s. In Lomé, Togo, this declaration was adopted to define those types of unconstitutional changes of government that would prompt its response.
Though yet to be adopted by all AU member states, this charter adds more depth to the continental body’s official stance on democratic electoral conduct in member states. Once ratified by 15 of the AU’s 53 members, its authority will take effect.