The year 2018 has seen encouraging instances of peaceful power transition in Africa, which as a whole has made impressive if uneven strides toward democracy in the last 50 years. Sitting presidents relinquished power in Liberia and South Africa through established constitutional mechanisms, while last year the Republic of The Gambia’s president agreed—albeit reluctantly—to step down after losing his re-election bid. While not a panacea for these countries’ endemic problems, the peaceful transfer of power is essential to sound governance. However, problem spots on the continent remain, particularly with entrenched leaders and parties that show few signs of giving up power anytime soon. Given the close link between sound governance, good economic stewardship, and human security, Africa’s continued progress toward democracy and economic opportunity for its people requires a close look at the state of its power transitions, and what the international community can do to help facilitate them.
On November 27, Michael O’Hanlon, director of the Africa Security Initiative at Brookings, moderated a discussion on these and other issues with former Ambassador to the African Union Dr. Reuben Brigety and Brookings Nonresident Fellow Dr. Ken Opalo. Following their conversation, panelists took audience questions.
PanelistMichael E. O’Hanlon Director of Research - Foreign Policy, Director - Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, Co-Director - Africa Security Initiative, Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, Philip H. Knight Chair in Defense and StrategyReuben Brigety Dean - Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, Former U.S. Ambassador to the African Union