(THIS ARTICLE IS MACHINE TRANSLATED by Google from Norwegian)
15 African countries have elections this year. First out is Uganda, and for the fifth election in a row, Yoweri Museveni's name on the ballot is 18. February. It has been 30 years since Museveni said that the problem to Africa in general, and Uganda in particular, was not the people, but tenants who are sitting too long. Many would argue Museveni is part of a club of African tenants suffering from the "third period syndrome". How is democracy in African countries really going?
Young people in the key role. Museveni recently refused to take part in a televised debate between the presidential candidates in the election in Uganda. As in the similar case of Donald Trump in the United States, his candidate was a hot topic in social media and source of many good puns. Furthermore, it is important that the president and the state apparatus build up under fear of turmoil and power to control the outcome of the election. The election for the two largest opposition candidates, both former supporters, has been met with tear gas and political shields since September.
Despite the disturbing developments in the election campaign, it is clear that the young people's platform, social medium, plays an important role. Information about abuse of power is easily disseminated, and critical voices are left right.
It was precisely the young people who played the key role when President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal voted for a third term in 2012. Youth movement "Y'en a marre" ("Enough is enough") with roots in the hip hop environment in Senegal mobilized widely, creating a critical mass that defies increasing tension towards the election forced Wade to peacefully accept the defeat.
Constitutional Proposal. On February 19, the film festival Human Rights Human Wrongs in Oslo shows the documentary incorruptible about the Ya a marre and the peaceful mobilization of democracy that found a city in the country. The announcement clearly indicated that they were not going to be less critical of the election winner, and in his New Year's speech a month ago, the victorious Senegalese presidential candidate Macky Sall launched a constitutional proposal that drastically cuts the length of the presidential term in the country.
It is not the case that youth and social movements in African countries are passive and watch as landlords in the country seek extended power.
While Sall's constitutional proposal ties in presidential terms, last year's constitutional proposal in Rwanda and the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) was of a different kind. Rwanda President Paul Kagame has, after deep contemplation, decided to stand again in 2017. Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who came to power in the Republic of Congo for the first time in 1979, has obtained the right to run for re-election this year.
Increased pressure. Third Period Syndrome (third term) is an interesting indicator to gauge whether African elections are democratic in name, or whether they exist to legitimize autocratic tenants. The electoral reaction to Pierre Nkrunziza's choice to post a third election in Burundi has thrown the country into a crisis no one knows how to take. Youth in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) have mobilized peacekeeping under the topic Telemar to stop Joseph Kabila from running for and winning his third election in 2016, with several temporary victories.
It is not the case that youth and social movements in African countries are passive and watch as landlords in the country seek extended power. It is not true that all African campers show a lack of respect for democratic rules of law, as the elections in Nigeria and Tanzania last year are two of many judgments. It is also not true that there are exclusively political right young people in many African countries are searching for. Throughout many years, most African economies have experienced great growth, without having particularly benefited from the 15 million new job-seeking quarter of a year.
The lack of distribution of economic growth and the prospects of low commodity prices over the years, which adds to the pressure on regimes that have survived for some time. 2016 will be an exciting election year, and then I am not aiming for Donald Trump.
Hermstad is the General Manager of the Joint Council for Africa.