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West Africa’s Democracy in Danger, Survey Shows 

by Victor Adetimilehin

West Africa is facing a decline in its democratic credentials, according to a survey by Afrobarometer, a pan-African research network. The survey, which covers 14 countries in the region, reveals that citizens are losing faith in democracy and becoming more tolerant of military rule.The survey, which was conducted between 2021 and 2023, shows that the percentage of West Africans who disapprove of military rule has dropped from 83% in 1999-2001 to 63% in 2021-2023. Similarly, the percentage of those who support the legitimacy of military intervention when elected leaders abuse power has increased from 44% in 2002-2003 to 56% in 2021-2023.The survey also indicates that West Africans are less satisfied with the way democracy is working in their countries. The percentage of those who are satisfied has plummeted from 70% in 1999-2001 to 36% in 2021-2023. Moreover, the percentage of those who think their countries are not democracies has doubled from 8% in 2002-2003 to 16% in 2021-2023.The survey results reflect the recent political turmoil and instability in the region, which has witnessed several military coups and attempted coups in countries such as Mali, Guinea, Niger, Burkina Faso and Gabon. These coups have undermined the democratic gains made by the region since the early 1990s, when most countries adopted multiparty systems and held regular elections.The survey also reveals some variations among the countries in the region. Some countries, such as Ghana, Senegal and Benin, have maintained relatively high levels of support for democracy and rejection of military rule, while others, such as Mali, Guinea and Togo, have shown more signs of democratic erosion and acceptance of military rule.However, the survey also highlights some positive aspects of democracy in the region. The majority of West Africans still prefer democracy to any other form of government (70%) and still endorse elections as the best way to choose leaders (78%). Additionally, the confidence in election outcomes has improved from 27% in 1999-2001 to 40% in 2021-2023.The survey findings suggest that West Africa is at a crossroads, where democracy is under threat but not yet lost. The region needs to address the root causes of the democratic decline, such as poor governance, corruption, insecurity, poverty and inequality. The region also needs to strengthen its democratic institutions, such as the electoral commission, the judiciary, the media and the civil society. The region also needs to foster a culture of democracy, where citizens are informed, engaged and empowered to hold their leaders accountable and to demand their rights.Source: Graphic Online 

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