Tag: Democracy

The Shimmering Illusion

Filed in Perspectives by on 15th Nov 2015 7 Comments

Based on presentation to the Thomas More Institute in Montreal, Canada in November 2015.

Wouldn’t it be nice if political leaders actually served their citizens? However, despite noble words of taking office to serve people, over time consensus, negotiation and agreement tend to give way to such sentiments as ‘You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.’ One compromise leads to another and democracy slowly shifts from serving the people to serving those in power. In extreme cases, violence replaces dialogue. The Fragile States Index for 2015 assigns countries a score based on such social, economic and political criteria as mounting demographic pressures, massive displacement of refugees, uneven economic development, severe economic decline, and wide spread human rights abuses. Countries such as the United States have a score of 35.3, Canada 25.7, Germany 28.1, the United Kingdom 33.5 and France 33.7. The lower the score, the better political leaders serve their citizens. However, if we choose four countries in Africa in various states of development, we see a marked difference in the score. Mali, for example, comes in at 93.1, Malawi 86.9, Togo 86.8 and Côte d’Ivoire 100. Continue Reading »

Death and Democracy

Filed in Missions by on 19th Feb 2010

Lomé, Togo – After the death of Africa’s longest-serving dictator, Eyadéma Gnassingbé, on the 5th of February 2005, one might be forgiven for thinking that democracy could return to Togo. However, the people living in this small sliver of a country in West Africa nestled betweenGhana and Benin had little reason for hope that day. General Eyadéma had ruled the country with an iron hand for 38 years since seizing power in a coup d’état in January 1967.

Gnassingbé died on a Saturday morning. By Saturday night, state media not only informed them of his death but also that the army had named his son Faure as his successor. Togo’s prime minister at the time, Kofi Sama, referred to General Yadéma’s death as a national castastrophe, and spoke of the need to preserve peace and national unity. While President Jacques Chirac spoke of Gnassingbé’s death in terms of profound sadness and of how France was losing a close friend, the people of Togo learned that the country’s borders were now closed and all land, maritime and air travel into or out of the country forbidden.

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Sierra Leone: A Dream of Freedom

Filed in Case Studies by on 23rd Mar 2009

In March 1991, warlord Foday Sankoh of Sierra Leone and the Rebel United Front invaded Sierra Leone from a part of Liberia controlled by Charles Taylor, who then led the insurgent National Patriotic Front of Liberia. It was the beginning of a nine-year civil war. However, the events that led to the war started long before. Continue Reading »

Democracy in the Middle East

Filed in Case Studies by on 3rd Mar 2009

It is not feasible to apply the principles of democracy and capitalism as practiced in the United States to nation-building projects in the developing world. This is more an admonition against a naïve approach than a comment against an effort to accomplish a noble goal. State/Nation-building is a difficult process and no two developing countries, or their conflicts or post-conflict situations are the same. Apart from such similarities in countries in the developing world as poverty, and the frustration and inequality that lead to ethnic conflict, each situation presents its own particular problems that require a tailored approach. Continue Reading »