Has West Africa lost its democratic push?
By John Eche
Has West Africa lost its democratic push? This is the concern of political watchers in the sub-region as they review some of the current and future political developments in the countries of the sub-region.
One of the quite worrisome developments has to do with the situation in Benin Republic where presidential elections are due to hold in April but going by the outcome of municipal polls held last year, it is almost categorical now that incumbent President Patrice Talon clearly has no rivals.
In Cote D’Ivoire, President Alasane Ouattara literally railroaded himself into office for a third term, despite widespread protests and resistance from the opposition.
The situation in Ghana, hitherto considered the jewel of democracy in the sub-region has generally been above boar but recent acts of dissension and violence are already indicating that unless something is done urgently, Ghana may be losing its innocence in terms of peaceful electoral conduct and democratic transition.
So where is the problem coming from?
Analysts say that the principal challenge may be structural. They say that given that the bulk of the population is still largely mired in poverty and want, it then becomes easy for political merchants to take advantage of them, use them to secure power and thereafter sustain the state of alienation between the leaders and the led with the sheer force of state power.
They also say that the deterioration in democratic relations in other parts of the world, as was for example witnessed in the recent polls in the US, is having a negative knock-on effect on the process and journey of democratic consolidation in West Africa and Africa.
President Patrice Talon of Benin Republic