The international community has been called upon not to give a free pass to African dictators even if they are fully engaged in the fight against terrorism.
Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute raised the concern during a hearing before the Foreign Affairs committee of the U.S. Senate on May 10, 2016 which focused on terrorism and instability in sub-Saharan Africa.
In his presentation, he stressed that democracy and good governance should be a central component of any counter terrorism strategy in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Discontent with governments that are viewed as illegitimate or ineffective is a fertile ground for recruitment as disaffected individuals may easily embrace extremism hoping to access a better life, political power or voice and the resources linked to this attributes in transition governments,” Dr Fomunyoh said.
Based on these views, the political scientist further explained that good partners in countering terrorism should also be good performers in democratic governance.
“Africans of this generation are jittery and extremely fearful of reliving the experience of the cold war era during which dictatorships thrived amidst grave human deprivation and gross human rights abuses just because some leaders were allies of the West at the time. The fight against terrorism should not become a substitute for a Cold War paradigm of this century with regards to sub-Saharan Africa,” he added.
In a similar testimony on instability in Africa with focus on Current threats in Nigeria, the Great Lake Region, Mali, Somalia, East Africa and international development responses, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Regional Director for Africa at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recognised efforts made by Africa in the social, political and economic domain since the turn of the century.
“We have seen that these successes tend to be driven by countries that invest in the safety, security and productive lives of their citizens. We have also seen in many instances, genuine and inclusive democratic transitions leading to more responsive and accountable governments. This progress, however, is at risk of reversal,” Abdoulaye Mar Dieye said.
The UNDP believes Africa can only meet its full development potential through coordinated and collaborative partnerships between governments, development partners and civil society groups geared towards preventing and responding to violent extremism.
A joint statement from Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas-Greenfield from the Bureau of African Affairs and Justin Siberell, Acting Coordinator for Counter terrorism read,“Countering instability requires a broad and multi-faceted strategy. Given the multiple drivers of instability and conflict in Africa, our responses must be innovative and dynamic. We cannot focus solely on the security aspect of the solution.”