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The East African : January 6th 2014
10 The EastAfrican NEWS JANUARY 4-10,2014 REGION IN CONFLICT Region needs to be wary of ‘coup contagion’ Recent coup attempts in S Sudan and DR Congo should make the EAC ne≥vous By CHRISTINE MUNGAI The EastAfrican T he East African region has been left nursing a security and stability headache following the recent coup attempts in South Sudan and DR Congo, symptomatic of the re-emerging pattern of coups d’état that have hit Africa in recent years. First was Central African Re- public, where ex-rebel leader Michel Djotodia seized power in March and forced president Francois Bozize to flee into exile. In mid-December, South Sudanese rebel fighters allied to ex-vice president Riek Machar attempted to take over the government; the fighting continues with more than 1,000 dead so far. And as the year came to a close, DR Congo’s army repulsed several attacks on December 30, in the capital Kinshasa, by a “terrorist group,” according to the government. The state TV headquarters, the international airport and a military base in the city were all targeted, but religious leader Paul Joseph Mukungubila, who claimed responsibility for the attacks, denied it was an attempted coup. All this unrest should make the East African Community nervous, as being surrounded by unstable countries has the risk of spreading the “coup contagion,” says a brief by the African Development Bank — the success of a coup in one country increases the likelihood of a neighbouring country suffering the same fate. Military coups were wide- spread and frequent in much of Africa during the 1970s and 1980s, but they faded considerably between the mid-1990s and 2000s, as progress was made by many countries in improving governance and reforming their economies. According to a recent McKinsey report, Africa’s real GDP rose by 4.9 per cent a year from 2000 through to 2008, more than twice the rate of growth in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, many African countries are democracies; and their vibrant economies make them the fastest-growing in the world. Yet, some have fallen back into the trap of political instability characterised by the re-emergence of military coups. Why? The AfDB paper highlights two factors that make a country vulnerable to military uprisings — a fall in the quality of governance, accompanied poor economic performance, particularly if the economy relies on a single stitution in 2010, Tanzania is currently reviewing its Constitution, Somalia is becoming somewhat stable and South Sudan gained Independence in 2011 — the AfDB paper notes that the “democratic experiments” in much of Africa remain “extremely fragile”; the institutionalisation of state structures that respect citizens’ social and political rights, and that foster political and economic transparency and accountability, have “yet to take root” in many African countries. “The political and democratic Soldiers from South Sudan army patrol the streets of Malakal in the Upper Nile State of South Sudan in December. Pic: AFP POOR GOVERNANCE A COMMON FACTOR The success of a coup in one country increases the likelihood of a neighbouring country suffering the same fate agricultural or mineral export. The paper measures quality of governance by the latest Ibrahim Index on African Governance, and states that although one cannot “unequivocally” claim that a country’s declining quality of governance is a decisive factor leading to a coup, it is “possible” to discern a correlation. In Chad (2006), Guinea-Bis- sau (2003), Madagascar (2009), and Mauritania (2008), the occurrence of military coups coincides with an overall decline in governance performance. Two scores in the Ibrahim Index are of particular note; the first is Safety and the Rule of Law, which assesses a state’s ability to provide its citizens with an effective judicial system, the right to safety — and not only the mere presence of safety — accountability of public Safety and the rule of law: scores in EA space is still not robust in East Africa; the key political institutions are firmly in place, even with surface-level changes at every election,” said Mr Otieno. “What we have is really a manufactured democracy; it has no depth and often little credibility to deliver hope to the people that things will work out in the long run.” Undiversified economies Poor economic performance is KUMBA IALÁ: The presidential candidate in Guinea-Bissau warned of “consequences” if there were campaigning in the second round of the election after alleging fraud. A RAJOELINA: The outgoing president of the High Transitional Authority of Madagascar toppled the previous govt with the army’s backing in 2009. officials, and prevention, control and elimination of corruption in the country. The second score of note is Participation and Human Rights, which looks at the right to vote, the right to a fair election, and freedom to express views on political issues and to hold government accountable for commitments made under national and international law. In all these countries, military Participation and human rights scores in EA coups or coup attempts took place in the year during which their respective scores for Safety and Rule of Law and/or Participation and Human Rights decreased significantly. Interestingly, all the East Af- Source: Ibrahim Index on African Governance rican countries, with the exception of Uganda, have recorded declining scores in one or both of these measures over the past few years. Burundi recorded the steepest decline in Safety and the Rule of Law, plunging 8.1 percentage points between 2007 and 2012. Rwanda has fallen 5.6 points over the same period; Kenya similarly dropped 3.4 points, while Tanzania fell SIDI OULD CHEIKH ABDALLAHI: Former president of Mauritania was ousted from power in 2008 by a group of high ranking generals he had dismissed. IDRISS DÉBY: Chad’s president took power at the head of a rebellion in 1990 and has survived numerous rebellions against his own rule. 2.9 points. The steepest decline in Par- ticipation and Human Rights is seen in Kenya, which dropped five points over the five-year period; Burundi fell 4.5 points, while Tanzania fell 3.1 points. Rwanda recorded a modest increase of 2.2 points in this measure during the same period, but it is only Uganda that improved in both measures, gaining 2.4 points in its measure of Safety and the Rule of Law, and a handsome 4.6 points in Participation and Human Rights. So, should East Africa be wor- ried that it could be next — considering the instability in the neighbourhood? “It’s all about the political process,” said security analyst Charles Otieno. “When people don’t trust the democratic process, or have avenues for expressing discontent, then there is definitely a likelihood that armed groups could try and gain power by force.” Although there has been some macro-political reform in the region over the past few years — Kenya ushered in a new Con- another factor that predisposes a country to military intervention, according to the AfDB paper. This is particularly intense in undiversified economies as the heavy dependence on primary commodity exports (agriculture, mineral and petroleum exports) heightens the hazard of economic vulnerability and significantly reduces the potential for democratic consolidation. For instance, in Guinea-Bis- sau, a successful military coup took place in 2003, a year after the country experienced a recession with a GDP rate of -7.1 per cent in 2002. Similarly, in Chad, Mauritania, and Niger, military coups succeeded respectively in 2006, 2008, and 2010, following a year of declining GDP growth rate and very poor economic performance. But fortunately for East Af- rica, its regional economies are projected to keep on the upward growth trajectory and are slowly becoming increasingly diversified, though exports are still based considerably on one or two primary commodities. The region’s growth is expected to continue its robust trend of six per cent next year. According to the recently launched State of East Africa Report published by the Society for International Development (SID), the share of agriculture in regional economies has stagnated or contracted considerably, and today all the EAC countries have a services sector that is larger than agriculture. A fall in the share of agricul- ture in an economy is not necessarily a bad thing, the researchers say; maturing economies are characterised by a falling share in agriculture’s contribution to the economy, and a rise in the services, industry and manufacturing sectors.
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