Africa is synonymous with political instability, it is a continent known for coups, civil wars, dictatorships, negative ethnicity, religious intolerance and dictatorship. This has been Africa’s life story for the last fifty year. Things are not getting better though many African countries showing tremendous progress after everything it has gone through. Most of the worlds fastest growing economies are found in Africa, this is because of the technological advances Africa has made in the recent years. However, when Africa is still in its dark days one particular country was, and still is, achieving progress. When most countries where under dictatorship or experiencing some form of civil war, one country was experiencing relative stability because of its leadership.
Senegal has a reputation of being a political stable country. According to the European union, it is one of the few countries in Africa that have not experienced a coup, civil war or authoritarian rule. Analysts claim this is as a result of Senegal’s first president Mr Leopold Sedar Seghor, the countries founding father and an accomplished poet. He became president of Senegal in 1960 and served all the way to 1980, during his tenure as president he refused to be part of the Marxist anti- west ideology, he instead decided to take a more diplomatic approach and maintain a close relationship with France which was based on mutual understanding and cooperation. Because of this, Senegal has always had a smooth transition of power with no election dispute.
Indeed, Senegal has a mature democracy with a president elected every five years, it has more than 80 political parties with a parliament that consists of the National Assembly, which has 120 seats(Via the CIA). In 2008, Senegal finished in 12th position on the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. The European union has termed Senegal’s democracy as a “show of maturity” after the 2012 election where sitting president Abdoulaye Wade accepted defeat to Macky Sall. Senegalese politics is based on ideology and not ethnicity or religion, with the socialist party dominating the political party until 2000, then came in Abdoulaye wade who came in with his Democratic party
The rest of Africa has a lot to learn from Senegal’s political stability, from their transparent democracy to their peaceful transition of power. Many African countries have come off short when it comes to political stability, with some form of election irregularities and lack of government transparency being the order of the day, so what can Africa learn from Senegal?
Senegal has good relations with the west, especially the French. They have developed a mutual understanding based on development and cooperation, Senegal is not controlled by the west but they work together in developing their economy and democracy. When it comes to some African countries they are either fully controlled by the west or want nothing to do with them. The western countries need not to control us but to cooperate with us, this is what Senegal is doing and they improve their foreign relation with the west based on a mutual understanding.
Leopold Segor was the first African president after independence to step down from power. All the presidents who preceded him stepped down after they lost an election. Senegal has a smooth transition of power because no president clings on to power. They (Senegal’s presidents) are not drunk on power leading them to become dictators like many of the past presidents Africa has had. Senegal in one of the few African countries never to have an authoritative rule because of their stable democracy, this should be emulated by the rest of the African head of state.
Senegal political parties are based on ideology. We have the socialist party, communist party and the liberal/democracy party. All these parties stand for something and have a clear manifesto on their agenda of rule. They do not vote based on race, religion or ethnicity. In many elections based in Africa, we vote based of ethnicity without looking at their manifesto or which political ideology they adhere to. We should not vote for some because of his ethnicity, but his political ideology.
There many more factors that makes Senegal a democracy power house like the respect for human right, freedom of the press and a functioning independent judicial system. I hope the rest of Africa can learn a thing or two of Senegal’s governance. Though many countries are beginning to embrace proper democracy, I hope we can use Senegal as an example on where the Africa democracy is heading.