Africa facing the risk of political transitions

There is the transition as we know it, namely that which results in the occurrence of a constitutional rupture in the devolution of power, but there is also that which occurs following a coup d’état, the resignation of leaders without the possibility of replacing them in accordance with the texts, destabilizing insurgencies or end of mandate without election. While waiting to set up legally and politically legitimate regimes, it is necessary to organize these exceptional periods and to envisage a provisional phase of organization of the public powers,

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Transition by consensus

This form of transition, used in many parts of the continent, has for content the establishment of a consensus between the forces around the issues, the organization of a process of return to constitutional order, the easing of tensions. , restoration of trust between populations and their representatives and, sometimes, improvement of the quality of life of populations. It results in the establishment of a supreme authority (president), an executive body, a legislative institution and various forms of associations in the power of the forces in order to broaden the base of the latter.

These forms of transition are the best known and most practiced in Africa, as we can see right now in Mali, or in Sudan a little over a year ago. They need to be carried out in a spirit of collegiality with the concern of stabilizing the short period of their development. As key factors of success, they must be led by quality men, independent, competent and having no other ambitions than to put the country back on track. They must initiate constitutional and legislative reforms making electoral processes even more credible, transparent and participatory than in the past, with particular attention to the equality of opportunities of applicants with responsibilities and the fairness of their treatment during the process. Stronger regulation of the role and place of money in democracy as well as a more restrictive framework for the candidacy of those leaving, starting with a certain advance, can be envisaged.

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The transition under legal constraint

The classic transitions described above are not the only ones possible in Africa. There are others, exceptional for the moment, which deserve to be analyzed in order to mark out the path as well as the implementation. These are transitions to be carried out in the presence of a legal power which, for particular reasons, finds itself constrained to initiate this particular political phase. Poorly organized and / or strongly contested elections, major social unrest, a sensitive security context, a deep economic crisis, a certain wear and tear of power resulting from the accumulation of several mandates in front of a young population are, among others, possible reasons a power during the mandate to open a transition.

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This stage will thus open a period of political collaboration established between the various living forces, within the framework of an ongoing mandate, with the objective of eventually putting in place a socio-political order satisfactory for the majority of actors. It may relate to institutional and organizational reforms to be carried out in the different segments of public life, if necessary the organization of elections, the conduct of specific sectoral policies, the initiation of a national reconciliation process with tangible results. research…

From an organizational standpoint, this transition will result in the establishment of a government of national unity, the possible creation of other monitoring and support bodies that may be considered to strengthen confidence between actors.

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A frame to pose

The conduct of this delicate phase will undoubtedly require the satisfaction of some preconditions such as the consensus of the living forces on the objectives of the transition, which can lead to the departure of the regime in power after elections. They can also relate to collaboration during a period during which desirable reforms are carried out before the organization of a new ballot with the participation of all or some of the actors.

Beyond the convergence on the objectives of the transitional period, there is above all the credibility of the guarantees to be given as a major condition for the conduct of this form of transition. Guarantees, including international guarantees, must be provided to the authorities to cover the risks incurred after a negotiated departure. Guarantees may also be needed to convince political forces to collaborate during the period.

In any case, the mediators appointed to help the countries during these delicate periods must know how to reassure the parties in order to convince them to initiate the process and thus obtain the stability of our countries. This type of transition will be more and more likely in Africa. The demography and urbanization of the continent will be the breeding grounds for an increasingly numerous and impatient youth, in particular in the capitals, which will represent a political counterweight to the powers in place.

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The obligation for inefficient regimes to give in

Faced with this, the regimes will be more and more cornered and will have to give up ballast, especially if they are not effective in terms of meeting popular expectations. Regional organizations must adjust their instruments for monitoring the political stability of States, and international partners must do the same by being more vigilant and better able to anticipate crises. We must no longer wait for antagonisms to intensify and then try to save the furniture. We must know how to identify the ingredients of the explosion early on and provide solutions that satisfy the populations while reassuring the authorities.

When these processes are carried out well, they will offer opportunities for regimes no longer knowing how to relinquish the power to ensure the passing of the baton without too much concern for the future. Which can be beneficial for the stability of African countries.

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* Moussa Mara was Prime Minister of Mali from April 2014 to January 2015.

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