African defences remain politicised

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Report 

Despite important democratic advances in Africa over the past several years, many of Africa’s militaries remain politicized. This is reflected in situations (such as in Côte d’Ivoire and the DRC, among others) where security sectors have actively aligned themselves with incumbent leaders seeking to stay in power. Such positioning is discrediting security sector institutions and marginalizing the role they can play when transitions do occur. With 20 national elections planned in 2012, how security sector leaders manage these competing interests will be central to Africa’s political development in the coming year.




In “Africa’s Militaries: A Missing Link in Democratic Transitions,” the latest Africa Security Brief from the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS), Dr. Mathurin Houngnikpo, Chair of Civil-Military Relations at ACSS, examines the challenges and opportunities facing Africa’s security leaders as they navigate these shifting expectations.

 “In Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Guinea Bissau, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic, Chad, Sudan, Angola, Rwanda, and many other African states, democratization or the consolidation of political reforms has been severely inhibited by armed forces that regularly intervene in political and economic matters. “

And adds,

The level of such co-optation is extensive in some countries. The use of force against peaceful demonstrations in recent years by security units in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi, and Cameroon, among others, is case in point. The shooting of unarmed civilians clearly indicates that some security sector leaders in Africa continue to see their role as defending the regime in power rather than the constitution—contravening even basic codes of military conduct and emerging democratic norms on the continent.” 

According to the report, “The level of such co-optation is extensive in some countries. The use of force against peaceful demonstrations in recent years by security units in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi, and Cameroon, among others, is case in point. The shooting of unarmed civilians clearly indicates that some security sector leaders in Africa continue to see their role as defending the regime in power rather than the constitution—contravening even basic codes of military conduct and emerging democratic norms on the continent. For democracy to sink deep roots on the  continent, the security sector needs to be a willing partner in the process of democratic consolidation.”