Democracy in Africa: A new Western bloc find in the new Cold War? Spécial

In the framework of the Timbuktu Institute's weekly column in partnership with Medi1TV, Dr. Bakary Sambe spoke at length about the place of Africa in this new Geopolitics that is taking shape, but above all about the debate on democracy as a principle brandished against autocracies in a context of new confrontation between the Western world, Russia and China. Below is the text of the full interview, where the director of the Timbuktu Institute also addresses the need to endogenize democracy as an African reality by taking into account the historical and political trajectories of African countries with examples drawn from the experiences claimed on the continent (video)


Dr. Bakary Sambe, you have just taken part in the 5th Lisbon Conference in Portugal on the theme "Towards a New World Order" and you argued that in the wake of the war in Ukraine and international rivalries, the Western bloc seems to be returning to the classics by brandishing the democratic ideal in the face of the rise of new powers. What makes you say this, and is this something new?


It's like déjà vu with the End of History theory. But this time, the reconstituted Western bloc, in its confrontation with Russia and the rising powers described as autocrats, wants to return to its classics such as democracy and the rule of law after decades full of contradictions in international practices where pragmatism around strategic interests had largely prevailed over universal principles. In the past, there was the Baule conference convened by the former French President Mitterrand, followed by the series of national conferences in the 1990s and the introduction of a multi-party system on the continent with the outcome that we know. Since then, the emergence of economic development models that have taken place in non-democratic contexts has not failed to call into question the democratic project that has long been presented, rightly or wrongly, as a panacea, especially after the harmful effects of structural adjustment policies imposed by the Bretton Woods institutions.


At the beginning of October, the Democracy Innovation Foundation was launched in Johannesburg, South Africa, for which the Timbuktu Institute conducted a survey as a continental consultation of African youth. Is this also part of this rethinking of the ideal of democracy that you often talk about?


You know, the change in the international context, with the rise of China, Iran, Turkey and other powers, has changed the agenda of Western countries, which have entered into a process of economic and strategic balancing with Beijing, and so the leverage that supported the democratisation processes has lost its strength. So this resurgence of the theme of democracy is not insignificant. After the Democracy Summit organised by the United States, the announcement of a 2.5 billion dollars fund for the promotion of democracy by Blinken, the recent launch in South Africa at the beginning of October of the Innovation for Democracy Foundation, supported by France, as well as the last meeting of young African leaders in Berlin organised by Germany in the framework of its presidency of the G7 are obviously part of this framework.


But Dr. Bakary Sambe, with political instability, coups d'état and the emergence of populism and nationalism on all sides, do you think it will be easy to succeed in meeting this challenge of democratic re-enchantment in the current context?


The main challenge of the West for the discourse on democracy is that of re-credibilisation in the eyes of African public opinion. The democratic project also needs to be endogenized so that it is perceived, not as a Western idea, but as an African reality and it will be necessary to take into account the historical and political trajectories of African countries with examples drawn from pre-colonial Africa. But to conclude, I think that the most complex and difficult challenge to take up, and which seems fundamental, remains that of recreating a healthy link by assuming a healthy, critical and continuous debate on the new South-North relations to be rethought and reconstructed.


Source : Medi1TV