The American Presidency and Democracy Promotion in Africa

By Richard Joseph

As a Board Member of the Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD), Richard Joseph wrote an essay on the struggle to close the gap between words and deeds in strengthening democratic institutions in Africa. He contends that the Obama Administration has set the bar higher for democracy promotion in its June 2012 “U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa”. His essay exploring its implications can be read below or on the CCD’s Democracy Dialogue blog of August 23, 2012:

On May 18, 2012, a Symposium of the G-8 Summit was convened in Washington, DC to launch a major initiative on global agriculture and food security. In addition to President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and several leaders of international organizations, the featured speakers included four African presidents: Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, John Atta Mills of Ghana, Boni Yayi of Benin, and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia. Mills and Zenawi have since died. Kikwete, Mills, and Yayi headed governments that are among the most democratic in Africa. Mills’s successor for a four-year term will be chosen in democratic elections this December, the sixth successive multiparty election to be conducted in Ghana since 1992. The Ethiopian insurgents, who were waved on by American diplomats to take Addis Ababa in 1991 after many years of armed struggle, have never kept their promise to permit the construction of an open and fair democratic system. The struggle continues, therefore, to match words with deeds in democracy building in Africa. Continue reading