Numbered are the days, at least in Africa, when leaders could simply grab and hold onto power perpetually through falsified elections. Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo tried that, after losing elections to Alessane Ouattara, and a combination of street protests and pro-Ouattara military might (along with some French military intervention) shut Gbagbo’s power grab down. This week, as the Democratic Republic of Congo enters a dicey period, where two men – President Joseph Kabila and opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi – claim to have won Nov. 28 elections, the international community will doubtless attempt to find a negotiated settlement, after election observers have declared that voting results “lack credibility.”
Watch the Monitor for continuing coverage on Congo.
In this week’s Atlantic, Stewart M. Patrick of the Council on Foreign Relations lists some of these successes and notes that the key ingredient in all these struggles is a galvanized popular will for the respect of human rights. Quoting the findings of a global opinion survey by worldpublicopinion.org, Mr. Patrick notes that citizens even in authoritarian countries are beginning to demand more and more freedom.