Democracy in West Africa Take 2

So, as I posted last week, two stories to watch are the electoral cycles in Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria.  And two very interesting developments have taken place over the last week.  First, “Goodluck Jonathan” has become the official acting president of Nigeria. This is significant for two reasons.  One is that it means that Yar’Adua has truly lost his grip on power after (now) more than 80 days of sick leave.  A second is that Jonathan is from the South and there is a sort of gentleman’s agreement in the main party there that leadership will rotate between the South and North.  And many in the North expected to get two terms out of Yar’Adua.  So, will Jonathan step aside in the upcoming election, or will he use his position as acting President to gain more authority. Thus far, he has been cautious.

Meanwhile, much more serious things have been happening in Cote d’Ivoire where Laurent Gbagbo dissolved the government. This apparently stops all plans at having an upcoming presidential election. And members of the opposition are reportedly saying that they no longer recognize Gbagbo as president.  Gbagbo has never demonstrated an ability to work across political lines.  In many respects, he has played an important role in his country’s decline from being a potential economic “lion” to being just a great disappointment.

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