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Democracy in sub-Saharan Africa: once rising, now stumbles

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•  A version of this post appeared on the blog "Freedom at Issue." The views expressed are the author's own.

The progress that sub-Saharan Africa has achieved in building democracy over the past generation is coming undone. After two decades of significant gains, the continent has experienced a steady decline in democracy over the last several years.

 In 1972, when Freedom House began publishing Freedom in the World, the state of political and civil rights in sub-Saharan Africa was bleak. With the exception of a few bright spots, dictatorships of one stripe or another ruled the majority of citizens on the continent. Coups and countercoups were commonplace, as were leaders who proclaimed themselves “president for life.” Elections, if held at all, were often manipulated to validate an incumbent leader’s rule.


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