25 MARCH 2016
By Linda Thomas-Greenfield
This is a crucial year for democracy in Africa. Six countries have already held presidential elections in 2016, and 11 more are preparing for elections.
African leaders have the opportunity to advance democracy and cement their legacies by establishing the conditions for peaceful transitions of power. Their actions will determine democracy’s trajectory across the continent and around the world.
Already, some leaders have set the right tone through free, fair, and timely elections. Others, however, are not listening to the will of their people or the requirements of their constitutions.
In March last year, Nigerians, against all odds, went to the polls and in an unexpectedly free, and credible election voted in an opposition candidate for the first time in their history.
In December, I was honored to represent the United States at the inauguration of President Roch Marc Kabore in Burkina Faso. The election process – widely judged to be free and fair – was a tremendous success and reflected the desire of the Burkinabe people for change. Former President Compaore had been in power for 27 years until a 2014 peaceful uprising when the people said, “No more!”