Democratization has been very rampant in Africa. Democratization can be defined as a transition or change in the political regimes from non-democratic to more democratic states. The transition often involves a change from an authoritarian regime to a semi-democratic or a full democratic system. It may also involve a change from the semi-authoritarian political regime to democratic and transparent political system. In Africa different workshops and meetings were convened to discuss how the issue of the authoritarian regime could be eliminated. Some scholars described such discussion as a ‘second wave and policy of liberation in Africa’. Numerous individuals and movements fought in pursuit of more democratic forms of ruling and governance to promote social equality. Although some of the African countries have shown remarkable persistence in adopting democracy, the demands of the people exceeds the resistance of the leaders. The leaders were being forced to adhere to popular demands for political change to replace the one party system. The internal and external pressure is one of the main causes towards democratization in Africa and African societies. The people have become more critical and skeptical of their governance as a result of the continent’s declining aid and economic fortunes. The demands within Africa are pressuring leaders to keep their promises and deliver prosperity and economic growth to facilitate structural adjustment policies.
The external pressure from donors and creditors on democratic government and good governance also provided an opportunity to democrats to push and insist for transparency and accountability in Africa. In addition, the democratic revolution experienced in the world has also contributed to the democratization in Africa as a push to protect the human rights has generated protests. The protests are aimed at eliminating corruption and eradicating human rights abuses among African continents. The western aid donors have also mounted pressure on Africa since their preference to more representative governments has prompted African nations to become democratic. The selective nation of the donors in giving assistance centers on countries undertaking reforms and transitions both economic and political. The OAU leaders also contributed to democratization through its emphasis of good governance as opposed to decolonization. The election process is an example of such transition in Africa. Today, leaders are elected through the ballot box as opposed to the authoritarian regime. Human empowerment and increased people’s participation on governance is a transition in Africa. Other types of transition include the economic empowerment and foreign intervention, promotion of social equality and justice and increased checks and balances in the governance process. The market economy has experienced tremendous growth and has contributed to respect and equality before the law. Democratic consolidation in Africa has been experienced due to institutionalization that has increased democratic maturity.
The military rulers in sub-Saharan Africa made attempts to seize power for many different reasons. It is notable that the issue of colonialism left African states divided on the basis of religious, ethnic, linguistic, cultural and traditional values. The military rulers over the years have invaded many different African countries and staged coups and justifying their seizure of power as being significant to unify the people. The military rulers argue that the degree of disunity experienced in the majority of sub-Saharan Africa has resulted into conflicts and war. They argue that there is a need to bring unity to the land thus necessitating their involvement in restoring unity. As a result, majority of the populations have accepted the military rule by believing that the military rulers possess the ability of bringing peace and restoring order in the societies. The military rulers justify their seizure of power and holding on to it on the basis that the leaders lack unity, and there is a need to restore such unity. They believe that military rulers could only restore unity.
Moreover, the issue of the leadership crisis has prompted military intervention. The military rulers have since argued that there is a high degree of failure on the part of the indigenous African leaders to govern their people. Military justify their seizure of power because the African leaders have failed to rule the people in a manner that can lead to economic development and increase democratization. Many scholars have argued that the leadership crisis has been one of the outstanding causes of military intervention and seizure of power in African politics. The issue of dominant and elite quest to personalize the state has resulted to massive and endemic violence and corruption that has undermined the capacity of state performance in providing social services. The legitimacy crisis as indicated by military rulers led to widespread violence, wars, and conflicts. It also led to ethnic rivalry and military rulers had to intervene to control and restore order in Africa. The military rulers indicated corruption, widespread conflicts and inept leadership as the main reason for their involvement and intervention in seizing and holding on to power. The justification and promise that the military rulers gave was that once the peace and order have been restored, they would return to their barracks and hand over power capable persons. The basis of their leadership was to establish a just society.
In addition, the military rulers argued that there was need to protect the massive resources that were being misused by the few powerful individuals. The need to protect natural resources was the justification given by the military for seizing and holding on to power. The justifications given by the military rulers were similar to the justification of a single party rule. For example, a single party rule dominated African history due to its need to end accusations of corruption, nepotism, and abuse of office. The single party rules advocated unity and in the same way as the military rulers were opposed to disunity. They argued that the political instability in many African nations were attributable to poor leadership and inability of leaders to promote equality through political participation.
The rebel groups in Africa had unique and almost similar agendas to achieve in their mission of rebellion. A rebel group is a group that is opposed to the ideologies or activities of a person usually the colonist. It is argued that African countries were very rebellious to the European colonialist during the colonization period. An analysis of the rebel groups in Africa reveals that the rebels had structural characteristics regarding how rebellion was carried out and how it realized its goals. These characteristics included the employment of massive violence and war against the other group to avoid dominance and ruling. The rebel groups incorporate the use of war and violence to express their dissatisfaction on the ruling party. The groups utilize bloodshed as a symbol of passing a message to the other party. Violence and injustice remain dominant and an everyday objective of the majority of rebel groups in Africa. Furthermore, rebel groups fund themselves by smuggling natural resources and obtaining weapons and light arms to be used to terrorize and cause civil unrest. The rebel groups usually have a mission to achieve or a message to pass to the government regarding their dissatisfaction of the delivery of services to the people.
The characteristics of the rebel groups in Africa help shape the counterinsurgency strategies in combating wars and violence as well as facilitating stabilization and transformation. An understanding of these characteristics helps improve the level of intelligence and thus providing avenues of easily tackling the rampant civil wars that are very common in African countries.
The term peacemaking has been variously used. It is the action, activity and process of bringing hostile and conflicting parties into agreement essentially through negotiation or arbitration. Peacemaking is a diplomatic effort directed at moving violent conflict to more nonviolent and peaceful dialogue where conflicting points and differences are harmonized by a representative political organization. Peacekeeping, on the contrary, can be understood as those activities and processes that tend to create an environment that supports lasting peace. It entails actions such as monitoring peace processes in places of conflict and enforcing peace agreement that they have promised to undertake. Peacekeeping also entails observing and implementing power-sharing arrangements and utilizing the rule of law to ensure a lasting peace. Peacebuilding involves a comprehensive and robust approach in the achievement of peace. It is defined as those strategies that are intended to mitigate against the start or resumption of violence or wars by establishing sustainable peace. Peacebuilding tends to concentrate on the cause of conflict, provide a solution and promote the development of a peaceful society.
The first-generation peacekeeping was deemed a failure because it failed to address the root or the potential cause of the conflict. It only focused on forming a lasting peace through implementation of peace agreements, but it never addressed the main cause of the conflict. In addition, the process of peacekeeping proved to be filled with immoral acts such as prostitution and increased rape cases by the peacekeeping troops. The process of peacekeeping has undergone numerous reforms particularly by the UN to increase its effectiveness and reduce sexual abuses. Recently, there has been the trade-off between peace and justice in peace building as the need for justice helps address the root cause of the problem and help bring unity.