Democracy and the politics of power alternation in Africa

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Namibia's Nujoma, Zambia's Chiluba, Algeria's Bouteflika, Togo's Eyadema, Cameroon's Biya, Nigeria's Obasanjo, Niger's Tandja and Uganda's Museveni have all to varying degrees attempted to subvert the democratization process in their respective countries. These however are only a small selection of an increasingly similar pattern of action by incumbents in Africa. What is most troubling to democratic transitionists is a concerted effort by these leaders to curtail their fledgling democracies in the name of their continued 'service' to the people. This paper seeks to examine what has enabled an increasing number of African leaders to negate power alternation in favour of open-ended tenures otherwise 'presidential careerism'. The article argues that while most of these states have been cited for embarking on some semblance of democratic rule, their rulers have utilized their weak democratic institutional structures, co-opted the elite and rallied the 'mob' to commit democracy 'infanticide'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-278
Number of pages17
JournalContemporary Politics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


  • Africa
  • democratic deepening
  • democratization
  • power alternation
  • regime types
  • term limits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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