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Jurist ‘Widespread democratic backsliding’ an obstacle to African governance, report finds

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Nov 11, 2016
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) Wednesday released its 2022 Index of African Governance, noting that governance across the African continent has “flatlined” since 2019. The report cited deteriorating security and movements to undermine the rule of law as reasons for the stagnation, and warned the lack of progress could seriously jeopardize the African Union’s Agenda 2063 development goals.

The report recorded a one percent improvement in overall governance across the continent when compared to the 2019 index. The minimal gain represents the impacts of “widespread democratic backsliding,” armed conflicts and civil restrictions. Government and military officials across Africa have been accused of using pandemic restrictions to install themselves in positions of power. The restrictions included limits of freedom of movement and control over media and internet access worsened a “decline in democratic procedures.”

Deterioration in the democratic process and security is visible in the numerous coups that have taken place since 2019. Sudan’s longtime authoritarian ruler Omar al-Bashir was overthrown in 2019. Mali and Guinea endured military coups in 2021. The Gambia thwarted a coup in 2022 while Burkina Faso had two coups in one year. Additionally, Tunisia’s new constitution instills sweeping presidential powers over the legislative and judicial branches of government and grants the president unilateral authority over all government decisions.

Despite the bleak message surrounding governance, the report highlighted a positive note. Human development and economic opportunity drastically improved in almost every country. 90 percent of Africans live in a country where progress is being made. Progress was mainly attributed to the growth in infrastructure.

Founded in 2006, the MIF was established by Sudanese-British billionaire Mo Ibrahim. The foundation publishes annual reports to assist in the establishment of good governance practices across Africa.

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