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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Democracy in Africa: An African View
Author:Afwerki, Isaias
Periodical:Eritrean Studies Review (ISSN 1086-9174)
Geographic terms:Africa
Politics and Government
human rights
Institution building
cultural pluralism
Traditional culture
Abstract:President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea initially presented this commentary as an address at a conference in West Sussex, England in September 1997. In it, he argues that the contemporary debate on democracy and democratization processes in Africa should be deeper and wider in scope than the traditional and historically evolved principles of civil liberty and political equality before the law. In his view, the ideals and inspirations that underpin a robust and participatory democratic system incorporate six fundamental principles: the right to a fair share of national resources; equal opportunity; the right to full respect and protection of one's dignity; the right to unhindered movement and freedom of expression; institutional guarantees (a constitution and a judiciary); and responsible, transparent and non-corrupt government. Factors explaining the flaws and distortions of the democratization process in postcolonial Africa are: the wholesale imitation of colonial institutions and rituals; the Cold War; socioeconomic constraints; lack of progress in education; continuing external political pressures; and an incorrigibly corrupt political elite. Crucial components of the democratization endeavour are: the need for participation; civic education and nurturing of the credibility of institutions of government; the need to incorporate relevant traditional values and customs; and avoidance of unjustified political fragmentation.