Africa's Dilemma - European Borders, Contested Rule




Katz, Mark N.

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Africa has recently seen movement toward democratization. Whether out of the growing conviction that it is preferable, or the sense that political change is inevitable, several one-party or dictatorial regimes now permit a free press, opposition parties, and more or less "free" elections. Indeed, contested elections are becoming an increasingly common feature of political life in Africa. Of course, there are countries where progress toward democracy seemed to have begun but was halted when the ruling elites saw that this would lead to their removal. But these regimes are no longer so self-confident; they are very much on the defensive and appear to be weakening. The demise of authoritarian regimes does not necessarily mean that democracy will flourish in Africa; authoritarian regimes have not been the only obstacle to democracy. The "legacy of empire" - that all the borders between African states were drawn by outside powers without reference to preexisting national, ethnic, or other boundaries - may become the most serious obstacle to the establishment and maintenance of democracy in Africa. Democratization often brings forward demands for secession or a realignment of existing patterns of ethnic relations. As a result, democratization efforts may not proceed smoothly and peacefully, and may involve internal conflict and demands for the alteration of the colonial - era borders recognized and maintained by the member countries of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).



Democratization, Africa, Foreign policy, Europe, International relations