Upholding Good Governance: Democracy, Elections, and Local Institutions under Political and Social Uncertainty

The first issue brief in this chapter is titled: We need to learn from recent crises in West Africa: Local governance and civil society solutions on pages 94-97. Major progress was made in 2016, firstly with cooperation between African governments, communities, civic organizations, and international partners overcame initial struggles and succeeded in ending the latest Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. On March 29, the World Health Organization declared the crisis over. Second, while there is still much to be done, there has also been significant progress in the struggle to secure the Lake Chad Basin from the threat posed by Boko Haram. Although the threats from the group remain, the governments of the region have regained control of much of the territory previously held by Boko Haram. The following feature under – Viewpoint - Democracy in Africa pages 98-100 – the author stated that 2017 will be an important year for the advancement of democratic government in Africa. Several key elections will determine whether the region experiences democratic erosion or consolidation. As is shown in Figure 6.2, on average, the region has made tremendous gains over the last 25 years. The following issue brief – viewpoint - discusses : Africa, Trump, infrastructure written by Witney Schneidman on page 101. The Trump policy towards Africa will not be clear for several months at least. While it is apparent that the president-elect has had very little contact with the continent, the same was true for Presidents Clinton and Bush. Similarly, President Obama—who later emerged as a champion of African-U.S. private sector investment—did not develop a strategy for the continent until the end of his first term. So, what might lay ahead for Africa? One of the most interesting initiatives to appear in the transition is the formation of Trump’s President’s Strategic and Policy Forum. The next subject is titled: Election spotlights: Kenya and Rwanda from page 102-109. Despite a few setbacks, many post-election transitions in 2015-2016 (e.g., Nigeria, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and Zambia) have been generally peaceful. These peaceful post-election regime changes augur well for the deepening and institutionalization of democracy in the continent. However, that was not true everywhere: In Burundi, incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza sought and obtained a controversial constitutional amendment that paved the way for him to win another term in office, plunging the country into a political, economic, and humanitarian quagmire.