In early 2016, five years after the beginning of the Arab Spring, the Economist (2016) reported that hopes raised by the uprisings had been destroyed. “The wells of despair are overflowing,” the newspaper said, the uprisings having brought “nothing but woe.” In addition to stagnant economic growth, rent-seeking was “rampant,” security forces continued to repress the population, and grounds were more fertile than ever for the emergence of radicals “who posit their own brutal vision of Islamic Utopia as the only solution.”
Politics is still largely a male domain. Gains in women’s political leadership have been real but not rapid (Ndlovu & Mutale, 2013). Globally, the share of national parliamentary seats held by women has nearly doubled over the past two decades, reaching 23% in 2016, but that still means that more than three out of four parliamentarians are men (UN Women, 2016a; World Bank, 2016a).
Accountability is often described as a cornerstone of good governance, but a more accurate image might be a whole wheelbarrow of building blocks – the president, government agencies, Parliament, the judiciary, opposition parties, the media, and voters all holding one another accountable to form a foundation for democracy.
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Depuis 1988, les Guinéens ont progressivement retrouvé leur liberté d’adhérer à toute organisation politique de leur choix et de voter pour leur candidat. En 1990, il y a eu la consécration de ces libertés dans la constitution. Par la suite, le Conseil Transitoire de Redressement National (CTRN) a élaboré des projets de loi qui devaient permettre la formation de partis politiques indépendants, la tenue d'élections nationales, et la liberté de la presse. Les partis politiques furent légalisés en 1992.
Fifty years ago today, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly enshrined a freedom that we had probably treasured ever since our evolution into social animals – the right to assemble and associate freely. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which was adopted along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), formalizes the right to peaceful assembly (Article 21) and freedom of association (Article 22), among other fundamental human rights.
In recent decades, the number and intensity of climate-related hazards such as floods, hurricanes, tropical cyclones, landslides, heat waves, and droughts have increased around the world (Emanuel, 2005; Coumou & Rahmstorf, 2012). Among climate scientists, there is a broad consensus that these increases are associated with global warming caused in large part by human activity (Hansen, Satoa, & Ruedy, 2012; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2014).
A report by South Africa’s Public Protector has triggered the latest scandal involving President Jacob Zuma and other state officials, who are accused of improper and unethical conduct in the awarding of state contracts. The report was released as the result of a High Court ruling (Times Live, 2016) and follows court cases related to the 1999 Arms Deal (Corruption Watch, 2014) and the misuse of state funds in the security upgrades of Zuma’s personal home in Nkandla (Mail & Guardian, 2016).
Kenya’s credible macroeconomic performance appears to be taking hold, albeit slowly, in its public perceptions: Though still largely skeptical, Kenyans are less pessimistic about the national economy and their personal living conditions than they were a few years ago.
Given Zimbabwe’s diversity of ethnic, religious, national, political, and social backgrounds, peace and stability would be unthinkable without some degree of tolerance for those who are different. On some fronts, the country has struggled with intolerance. One example is political intolerance, played out in inter- and intra-party conflict turning neighbours against each other. Another is intolerance of sexual difference, with President Robert Mugabe leading a sometimes vicious chorus against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals.
São Tomé and Príncipe’s economy grew by 4.0% in 2013 and 4.9% in 2014; inflation dropped from 8.1% to 6.3%; and the proportion of the population living in poverty declined from 53.8% in 2000 to 49.6% in 2010, according to the government’s second National Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (International Monetary Fund, 2014). Still, that leaves half of the population in poverty while the once-important cocoa sector stagnates, hoped-for oil discoveries have not materialized, and unemployment affects 13% of the workforce (Economy Watch, 2016; African Economic Outlook, 2014).
Strategic collaboration with Africa has become a priority in the global North, East, and West. Powers that once saw the African continent primarily as a source of raw materials now focus on “partnership” and “development,” following the lead of the U.S. African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) in highlighting mutual benefits of investment and trade. .
After a decade of relative stability that has included two presidential elections, Liberia is looking ahead to its first post-war electoral leadership transition when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s second term ends in 2017.
Less than a generation removed from civil war, the country is still rebuilding governance and economic structures, and the upcoming elections – which are already drawing candidates from more than 20 political parties – promise to put that progress to the test.
In its Vision 2022 agenda, the Kingdom of Swaziland lays out its goal of being “in the top 10% of the human development group of countries founded on sustainable development, social justice and political stability” (Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, 2013, p. 10).
According to Gabon’s national electoral commission and a subsequent Constitutional Court ruling, incumbent President Ali Bongo won re-election in August against challenger Jean Ping. His razor-thin and disputed victory margin relies in part on extraordinarily strong support and high voter turnout in the president’s home province, Haut-Ogooué. The officially announced results prompted protests in which several people died and many were arrested.
Since gaining independence from Portugal in 1975, the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe has experienced 15 years of one-party rule and, starting with a new constitution in 1990, 26 years of fast-moving multiparty competition marked by frequent changes in government and two attempted coups.
August 2016 brought another transition with the election of former Prime Minister Evaristo Carvalho as president over incumbent and former strongman leader Manuel Pinto da Costa.
Tunisians look up to China, the world’s largest economy, as a model for the future development of their country but consider it far less influential in Tunisia than France and the United States, according to Afrobarometer survey results.
Public perceptions are divided as to whether China’s economic and political influence on Tunisia is positive or negative. As for China’s economic development assistance, a plurality (47%) of Tunisians say it helps meet the country’s needs, while about half as many (19%) disagree.
Liberia is one of five West African countries hit by the world’s worst outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease. Between March 2014 and May 2015, the epidemic in Liberia produced 10,675 suspected, probable, and confirmed infections and killed 4,809 people, including about 200 health-care workers (Doctors Without Borders, 2016).
Members of Parliament (MPs) and local government councillors are elected to represent their constituents. In a functioning democracy, these office-holders are expected to represent the public interest and to be accountable to those who elected them.
How well do African citizens think their elected representatives are fulfilling their roles? How do constituents perceive their political leaders’ integrity, their responsiveness, and their commitment to serving the public interest?
Zimbabwe and other Southern African countries are facing one of their worst food shortages in decades (Oxfam, 2015; Plan International, 2016). In February 2016, President Robert Mugabe declared a state of disaster in rural parts of the country severely hit by a drought largely blamed on the impact of El Niño (Guardian, 2016; Herald, 2016; Reuters, 2016).
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En lançant ses objectifs de développement durable (ODDs), l’Organisation des Nations Unies relève que la mise en oeuvre de son nouveau programme exigera la participation de « tous les pays, toutes les parties prenantes et tous les peuples », en tenant compte « des réalités, capacités et niveaux de développement de chacun et dans le respect des priorités et politiques nationales » (Organisation des Nations Unies, 2015, pp. 2-3).
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) counts among its 15 member states1 the region’s richest country (South Africa) as well as some of its poorest; landlocked as well as island states; and states with some of the largest populations in Africa (the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)) as well as some of the smallest (Seychelles).
In a memorable address to the Ghanaian Parliament on July 11, 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama asserted that “Africa doesn't need strongmen; it needs strong institutions.” He went on to refer to “strong parliaments, honest police forces, (and) independent judges” as institutions that help to ensure that governments “respect the will of their own people (and) govern by consent and not coercion.” Citing good governance as a key to prosperity, he added: “This is about more than just holding elections. It's also about what happens between elections.”
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L’amélioration des conditions de vie des populations passe nécessairement par un meilleur accès aux premières nécessités et la mise en place des stratégies pouvant permettre de réduire efficacement la pauvreté. C’est dans ce cadre que les gouvernements qui ont succédé à la tête de la Guinée ont conçu et mis en oeuvre des axes stratégiques de réduction de la pauvreté depuis 2002.
Although Zimbabwe’s Constitution explicitly stipulates that every citizen is entitled to “freedom of the media,” press freedom has had a tenuous existence in Zimbabwe. While recent decades have not seen the direct censorship common before independence (Press Reference, 2016), the public's right to free and unfettered information has suffered from government interference with the print and broadcast media, harassment and arrests of journalists, self-censorship by editors, and media laws that are widely viewed as impeding media freedom (Mudadigwa, 2016).
Reform of electoral laws has been a mainstay of political discourse in Uganda for two decades. Since the issue came to the fore following the 1996 general elections, stakeholders on all sides – opposition political parties, civil-society organisations, election observer missions, government, and the Electoral Commission (EC) – have called for reform to ensure free and fair elections (International Foundation for Electoral Systems, 1996; Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda, 2013a).
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La majorité des Maliens jugent que leurs conditions de vie sont mauvaises, même si la pauvreté vécue par certaines couches de la population semble avoir légèrement reculée, selon la dernière enquête d’Afrobaromètre.
The promulgation of Kenya’s Constitution in 2010 and the ushering in of county governments in 2013 generated high public expectations of efficient service delivery without much consideration of the complexity of such a transition in governance. Kenya’s devolution involves both political and administrative changes, requiring the national government and counties to collaborate in building a new political culture and leadership, with citizens as the pillar of reflexive governance. If that pillar is weak, the form of governance that Kenya has embraced is threatened.