Mali coup, third-term bids fan fears of West African democracy backslide

Reuters, by Aaron Ross

Guinea President Alpha Conde arrives for an African Union summit meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, February 10, 2020. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo



DAKAR (Reuters) - Until this year, West Africa looked to have shed its “coup-belt” moniker, winning plaudits as a model of democratic progress on the continent. But last month’s putsch in Mali is fuelling fears among activists that gains of the past decade are unravelling.


The power grab came at a time when the presidents of Ivory Coast and Guinea are seeking third terms after winning referendums to alter constitutions that barred them from running again.


While elections are now held consistently across the region, such moves, combined with governments’ attempts to stifle political opposition, are making many West Africans lose faith in the ballot box as a way of holding leaders accountable, activists and analysts say.



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