Hands off Africa!

"Hands off Africa" demonstration, Accra, Ghana, April 12, 2011. Photo by Christiane Badgley

That was the message  in the streets of Accra on April 12th.

As the French TV coverage of the event put it, “people in many African countries, including Ghana, do not approve of the French action in Ivory Coast.”

When I have a bit more time, I’ll write more about “francafrique” and the way Ivory Coast’s failed 2010 election tapped into a deep anger that runs throughout francophone Africa (and beyond). There’s no doubt, either, that both Libya and the Ivory Coast have reinforced many peoples’ opinion that the West will support “change” and “democracy” only when its own interests are advanced.

When you consider just how many seriously flawed African elections have gone by recently without the slightest objection from France, the U.S. or the U.N. — Gabon, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Uganda – it’s painfully obvious that Western support for African democracy is highly selective. With all the despots who have been in power for decades in Africa, how did Gbagbo suddenly become so terrible?

The debate on Gbagbo, the elections and the U.N./French military intervention in the Ivory Coast has been raging among African intellectuals for months now.  The Slate Africa website  has several articles worth reading that summarize both sides fairly well. The BBC website also has some information about the very delicate issue of French military involvement in its former colonies. There’s also an article there about Gbagbo that points out some of the problems with the framing of Ouattara as the ideal democrat.

In any case, things are far from resolved in the Ivory Coast. Libya is a mess. With a number of important elections on the horizon in Africa, it’s time for the West to reconsider both the form and the substance of its engagement with the democratic process in Africa.

Here’s the story from TFI (French TV news):

Ghana: Réactions après le kidnapping français du… by Nzwamba

More soon.





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