Conflict Heats Up Across the Sahara


A month ago, few would have suspected that Mali’s government was in line to have its power usurped by its 7,500-man army. President Amadou Toumani Touré, whose present whereabouts are unknown, has been lauded for his democratic governance and was a likely candidate for the ever elusive Mo Ibrahim prize for African leaders who voluntarily cede power. Next month’s elections were to seal the deal for the political career of a man who has played by the rules, since he first took power in a coup in 1991 that earned him the title “soldier of democracy.”

But alas, as many analysts have argued, the series of revolutions that swept the Arab world last year, have officially started to make their presence known on the other side of the Sahara by destabilizing the countries further south. Continue reading Conflict Heats Up Across the Sahara

Lessons from Senegal’s Democracy

senegal_03192012Elections in Senegal have a long history, going back to 1848 when the citizens of Saint-Louis and Gorée were granted universal (male) suffrage. Although limited in scope, this electoral political culture is an important legacy, and this may explain why the breakdown of the electoral process, which many observers predicted, did not happen.

The unconstitutional candidacy of current President Abdoulaye Wade was the key contentious issue, resulting in many days of protest and police repression which cost the lives of around fifteen people. Despite this tension, election day was extremely peaceful and 65% of voters confidently voted against Wade. Continue reading Lessons from Senegal’s Democracy