“Coups in Africa find a certain audience with the population”

There are real and false democracies, and between the two, soft democracies This is the thesis of the French writer Pierre Jacquemo who has just published Africa, democracy is at stake (Jean Jaures Foundation Publications). Why democracy is in crisis in Africa? Why did the putschists return to the forefront of the stage? Pierre Jacquemo, who teaches at the Institute of Political Sciences in Paris and has been ambassador to Accra, Nairobi and Kinshasa, is a guest at RFI.

RFI: Is West Africa on track to launch the concept of a “popular military coup,” as you ask in your book.

Pierre Jacquimot: It is true that we see that these coups, led by young officers, meet with a certain audience of the population, especially among the youth. This may mean that these coups are witnessing a decline in representative democracy in these three countries. Representative democracy is embodied, for example, by Guinean President Alpha Condé, who bypassed constitutional rules by granting him a third term. This was also reflected in the inability of heads of state who are usually elected – in Mali and Burkina Faso – to face the security crisis raging in their countries.

And you consider that in relation to Mali, for example, the declaration of France, considering the new regime to have an illegitimate character, was especially unfortunate …

completely. I think that France, in its relations with African countries, sometimes behaves well, but often makes very unfortunate statements, which, perhaps, testify to the inability to analyze the dynamics taking place in these countries. There is a kind of hardening of the standards of formal democracy, of elections, of institutions, of the rules of the game…a kind of French inertia towards Africa.

You explain very well, in your book, the causes of these various military coups. But don’t you get a little understanding of some of the regimes, like Mali, that let former Prime Minister Somilo Popeye Maiga die in prison last March?

no. I don’t have to be lenient with some and harsh with others. I try to analyze what is happening objectively. What I can see is that there are countries that do a much better job than others in terms of standards on the one hand democracy, the efficiency of institutions, and on the other hand respect for basic human rights. Thus, we are able to distinguish between situations, between countries that are on a rather positive path, and the so-called “mature democracies” – Cape Verde, Mauritius, Botswana, Ghana and even Senegal – and others plunge into complete democratic turmoil, or even disintegrate like the African Republic Central, Somalia, South Sudan or Libya, for example.

Of the 623 elections held in sub-Saharan Africa in the past 30 years, it says half, about 316, are representative, according to the Democracy Index. economic information unit. it is big …

Indeed. Half of the elections are flawed before polling, at the level of voter registration, incomplete. During polling: stuffing the ballot box. And after the poll while calculating the results and this despite the observations. Another observation that can be made is that the possibilities of rotation are reserved for a few countries. We know that this was the case of Ghana or Senegal in the past. Recently, we had a case in Seychelles and Malawi, but it is very rare in other countries. Then perhaps it is worth adding that heads of state have been given a third mandate. Most African constitutions state that the head of state can only serve two terms. But there, this rule was not respected in Guinea, nor in Cote d’Ivoire, nor in Uganda, six states [Yoweri] Museveni, neither in Chad, six states for Idriss Déby, nor in Congo, four states for [Denis] Sassou Ngisu. As a result, we arrive at positions for a certain number of countries, which I call “soft democracies”, where we elect older people. We elect Paul Biya, Alassane Ouattara, Alpha Konde, Nana Akufo-Addo, Yoweri Museveni, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Ismael Omar Guelleh, who have a very large age gap with the rest of the population. Thus, the ability to listen and interest young people is probably much weaker. Overall, between African politicians and the average age of the population, there is a gap of 43 years.

In your opinion, is the replacement of France by Russia in the Central African Republic and Mali a temporary or permanent phenomenon?

I think, and hope this is a temporary phenomenon. When we list the abuses committed by private militias from Russia, in particular the Wagner Group … the right question is to inform the population and the effect of garlic spread by these groups and sent directly by Moscow. So there is a war there. Obviously, when we see that RFI is prohibited in Mali, we can be concerned, while in all the countries I’ve worked in, this medium is the preferred way for people to get information about the continent, but also in their own country.

RFI and France 24

RFI and France 24. But I am thinking of RFI because I was separated from RFI when I was stationed in Kinshasa. And I remember the number of letters I’ve received, coming from all over this vast country, to say “Restore RFI”, because it was the preferred way out of the coordinated speech we found in the official media.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.