Monthly Archives: September 2016

International Water Law Project Blog » Blog Archive » Midriver States: An Overlooked Perspective in the Nile River Basin

From Aleta Brady (Wesleyan ’15):

“Midriver states have an important position and role to play in transboundary river basins as they intimately understand the needs and concerns of both their upriver and downriver neighbors. Midriver states also have a more complex perspective of their “rights” based on their combined upstream/downstream interests. This aspect is being ignored under contemporary analyses.”

 

Source: International Water Law Project Blog » Blog Archive » Midriver States: An Overlooked Perspective in the Nile River Basin

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Guinea: Interesting Case of Democratization

Guinea’s current political atmosphere resembles what many other countries throughout the world experienced in the second half of the 20th century: the consolidation of democracy. After several despotic regimes since independence in 1958, Guinea elected its first civilian president, Alpha Condé, in 2010 in an election, which despite being marred by days of ethnic violence, was considered by many observers as a huge step towards democracy. Last year, Alpha Condé was reelected with a clear majority over his opponents, further validating the country’s steady progress on international indices of democratic governance. However, despite recent progress in the democratization of the country, there are still remnants of a political culture typified by the Big-Man theory of governance that was so prevalent in many African states after independence. A brief overview of the first two presidential rules in Guinea’s history provides critical insight into some of the mechanisms that have shaped the country’s domestic and foreign policies, such as the military and internal conflicts.

The 26-year rule of Ahmed Sekou Touré, Guinea’s first president, as both the head of state and head of government, was characterized by a notoriety for fierce authoritarian rule through harsh domestic policies–such as the Demystification Program aimed at eradicating indegenous religions and customs–and violent suppression of opposition, all in an apparent attempt to strengthen the Guinean national identity. Following his death in 1984, the military staged a coup and the country entered a near 25-year military rule under Col. Lansana Conté. Hence the emergence of a legacy of autocratic rule and internal conflicts that plagued Guinea’s political institutions up until 2010.

Lansana Conté’s rule embodied a shifting in the dynamics of governance in Sub-Saharan Africa that was mainly driven by international pressure and the need to open up Guinean economy in order to take full advantage of one of the richest mineral reserves in the world. Although the National Assembly did not exert any significant power that was able to keep Touré–primarily since it was controlled by Touré’s Democratic Party of Guinea, the country’s only legal party–Conté replaced it with a military committee tasked to “promote democracy” and further exacerbated accountability by changing the constitution to allow unlimited 7-year presidential terms. While horizontal accountability was clearly non-existent, vertical accountability also took a few blows during the early years of Conté’s rule. There was severe suppression of any opposition and political parties were banned. Surprisingly though, at the turn of the century, there was a shift in the political atmosphere. Bowing to international pressure, Conté allowed for multi-parti elections, which were nevertheless marred by electoral fraud and intimidation. Moreover, Guinea’s increased involvement in Francophone West Africa in the latter years of Conté’s rule as well as the country’s eventual conformity with the more liberal trade patterns more common among other countries in the region led to a gradual move towards political and economic liberalization and more transparency in Guinea’s political institutions,.

The evidence for neopatrimonialism in Guinea today is as ambiguous as determining the appropriate usage of the term; though, one could make compelling arguments for the existence of neopatrimonialism during the previous regimes. Many soldiers in the last military junta in 2008 were receiving $30,000-40,000 in salaries, while the country’s GNP per capita is less than $600. The current president, Alpha Condé, has promised continued trasnparency; however, he had aslo postponed legislative elections indefinitely when he was first elected, signifying a continued autocratic rule. In contrast, elections resumed in 2013 signaling democratic consolidation.

 

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/1984/03/28/obituaries/ahmed-sekou-toure-a-radical-hero.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-guinea-konate-idUSKCN0ZV2V6

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jul/20/guinean-president-survives-assassination-attempt/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/dec/23/lansana-conte-profile

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Nigerian Political Culture

The Nigerian government is a federal government that was modeled after the United States government system as well as being greatly influenced by its former colonial leader, Great Britain, as simultaneously contains a Westminster System model with a composition of upper and lower houses in a bicameral legislature. However, the president is the head of state, the head of government, and the head of a multi-party system. With regards to Nigerian politics, these take place with the framework of a federal, presidential, representative democratic republic, in which the government exercises executive power over the people of Nigeria. With such executive power, this has lead to great amounts of corruption within Nigerian society.

The political culture in Nigeria is a direct reflection of the socio-economic and religious fragmentation and polarization that exists within the most populous and one of the most diverse nations in Africa. With serious religious divisions between Muslims and Christians, as well as social divisions between the country’s most prominent ethnic groups (Hausa-Fulani, Igbo, and Yoruba), there is a large amount of political conflict that exists within the Nigerian government because these groups tend to coincide with the major lines of socio-economic and political inequalities and voting behavior within Nigerian society.

In Nigeria, politicians have tried to decrease the amount of ethnic and religious tension and hatred that exist within the regions but in the meantime have failed to address the country’s real social and economic deficiencies. Currently, most Nigerians live in poverty, as there are only a handful of wealthy people that exist within Nigeria. Additionally, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing dramatically as a number elite Nigerian citizens have been able to use their political leverage to corrupt the Nigerian political system by steal from public funding and extracting enormous amounts of wealth from siphoning off public resources such as oil. The Nigerian Observer accurately describes the political culture of Nigeria when it says:

“The post colonial Nigeria is built around law and order, which was the hallmark of colonial legacy and the colonial government was itself an authoritarian authority, which relied on law and order as an instrument of coercion to sustain state power, both of which are conducive to military governance that characterized Nigeria for most of her existence as an independent entity. To facilitate its regulatory role and extractive roles, the post-colonial state centralizes the ‘production’ and distribution of national resources and in the context of state capitalism, this encourages the perception of the state as an instrument of accumulation and the patron-client ties as the dominant of political relations.”

This affirms that Nigeria contains neo-patrimonialist system within its society.

On a social scale, religion has become a major force in shaping the political behavior of policymakers in Nigeria. This is especially true among Muslims citizens that believe the state is conterminous to their belief, which has lead to the creation of the Boko Haram. The Boko Haram is a dangerous religious group that aim to Islamize Nigeria and go against the more Christianized, Western culture by declaring war in the form of terrorism on anyone that does not conform to their beliefs, which has lead to them successfully influencing the minds of many Nigerian citizens and powerful government leaders. As a result of such violent outbreaks by the Muslim Nigerians in the Boko Haram, the divide between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria as a whole has become even greater.

 

http://www.nigerianobservernews.com/2016/02/nigerian-political-culture-causes-and-effects/#.V-yMbpMrK1s

http://www.polazzo.com/nigeria_4.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Nigeria

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Neo-patrimonialism in Kenya.

Kenya’s founding fathers laid a weak foundation for the country when they got the reins to run it. For instance, the first president of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta ensured that those loyal to him would get positions of power while those in opposition would be sidelined, simultaneously this relationship would translate into regional development. Development in the different regions in Kenya depends on what camp one’s region leaders lay in relation to those in power, hence Kisumu’s subpar development. Thus, the aforementioned factors underscore the fact that neo-patrimonialism is a prevalent style of leadership in Kenya.

Kenyatta ruled with an iron fist. When he reclaimed the land left by white settlers, he either took it for his family or redistributed it amongst his loyal friends. Today, his family is one of the richest families in the country. Before Uhuru Kenyatta’s 2012 elections, he had to prove that his family had acquired the land legally, which obviously he claimed to be. During Jomo Kenyatta’s presidency, a few assassinations happened,including that of Tom Mboya, J.M Kariuki amongst others, and they were believed to have been coordinated by people in President Kenyatta’s camp. When Daniel Moi took over as the second president of Kenya, he continued Kenyatta’s legacy of using loyalty and fear through mechanisms such as the Nyayo house, where his opponents such as Raila Ondinga were imprisoned and tortured without a fair hearing. Mwai Kibaki appeared to be just, but his true colors came out during the Anglo leasing scandal, which was coordinated by the Mount Kenya Mafia, which is made up of the same close elites mainly from the Kikuyu tribe. Uhuru Kenyatta has followed suit in his predecessor’s shoes by also hiring his loyal friends as the supposed “technocrats” or generally known as cabinet secretaries, despite not being experts in their particular ministerial fields. Leadership in Kenya has thus been influenced by the post colonial legacy of its founding fathers which created a ripple effect on to its subsequent leaderships, in which we witness an unchecked president in the presence of a checks and balance system, because it actually operates on loyalties and use of fear.

Jaramogi Oginga is from the Luo tribe and he was the first opposition leader of the country. Today, his son, Raila Odinga is also the leader of the opposition. They ail from the West of Kenya and despite the fact that Kisumu is the third city in the country, its general state cannot be compared to that of cities like Nairobi. The Luos, mainly located in the western Kenya particularly Kisumu, have always been in opposition to the government and this has translated to poor development in their region. “When President Uhuru Kenyatta vented his spleen at William ole Ntimama’s funeral [one of the longest serving MP’s] recently, he was mouthing 50 years of exasperation with a Luo political elite that has refused to join the feast.” This statement underlines what happens when one refuses to work closely with the most powerful political elites.

The international community intervened when the 2008 post election violence happened, which was caused by among other factors: challenge to a neo-patrimonial system trying to institute by force an unwanted president(Mwai Kibaki). Hence, the neo-patrimonial system doesn’t clearly affect Kenya’s relationship with its foreign partners, unless something major such as the P.E.V happens.

Sources.

  1. http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/of-limuru-hunt-land-and-luo-bogeyman/440808-3392860-iqea88/index.html
  2. Its Our Turn to Eat, Michela Wrong.

 

 

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Patronage – Gabon

The current political climate of Gabon was shaped by remnants of French influence during and after colonialization, customary rules, and the will of its leader. The Gabonese government is comprised of the president, a national assembly, and a senate that is mainly guided by French civil law and largely influenced by patronage. The days since independence have been clouded by neo-patirmonialism. The first Gabonese president was imposed to the people by France which resulted in a failed military coup. His death in 1967 and the election of his prime minister, Omar Bongo, gave way to the formation of a regime sustained directed by the whim of one “Big Man.” He was able to sustain his regime with France’s help in exchange of business favors and by changing the constitution multiple times. He repealed the limit of presidential terms in 2003, thirty-six years after his first election. Bongo died in 2009, which changed the course of Gabon’s international relations and foreign policy because they were largely influence by his character and his relationship with leaders of foreign states.

First relations with France began to fade when his son Ali Bongo was first elected president in 2009 and sought to move away from his father’s regime. He also increased trades relations with China. Ali Bongo started to crack down on corruption by firing many government officials who worked under his father’s regime. Many of these officials joined opposing political parties. He also eliminated the quarterly bonuses given to civil servants simply for their allegiance. France has also been conducting corruption investigations into the Bongo’s family assets since Ali Bongo came to power. In spite of his efforts to move away from his father’s regime, Ali Bongo has kept a patronage system in Gabon. Much of the system favors people from his ethnic group, his friends, and people who have given allegiance to the PDG (political party founded by Omar Bongo).

Even though it is not a free country because of the lack of civil liberty and as defined by Freedom House, Gabon has been able to contribute its army to peace keeping missions to stabilize the Central African region. It has also been working with the U.S. to help regulate environmental standards in the region.

The political system in Gabon has not prevented it from having a positive impact in the Central African region. However, it has been under duress recently with the re-election of Ali Bongo in August 31st. Ping, a member of an opposing party, declared himself president and vowed to free Gabon. Ping’s stance is ironic because he served under Omar Bongo’s regime and resigned in 2014 after participating in the patronage system for much of the country’s life. The constitutional court recounted presidential vote after civil unrest, but gave the same results. Ali Bongo was officially sworn as the Gabonese president in September 27 2016. Riots have stopped in Libreville, the capital of Gabon and other provinces. Gabon’s future in international relations and its foreign policy moving forward are unknown. Nevertheless, one can predict that they will be shaped after Ali Bongo’s character similarly to the past seven years.

 

http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20160928-gabon-ping-jean-ali-bongo-investiture-reunion-ambassadeur

http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/monde/20160831.OBS7237/presidentielle-au-gabon-emeutes-blesses-incendie-la-situation-degenere.html

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2826.htm

https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2015/gabon

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13376333

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Blog 2- Somalia

The current political system and political culture in Somalia is very different in contrast to African countries such as Ethiopia or Ghana for example. Due to the mixture of European nations that colonized Somalia, the current state of the nation is very fragmented and damaged. Both Italy and Britain, left large territories in Somalia without giving the Somaliland people any government structure to build off of. This has led to current political instability in the country. The state of Somalia quickly changed following the assassination of Somalia’s second president, Ali Shirmarke. A quick and vicious power struggle erupted in Somalia following this lost between various different factions who wished to gain control of certain territory within Somalia.

Without a strong centralized government and because of the rising anarchy; the Transitional Federal Government was established with the support of the United States, Ethiopia, United Nations, and the African Union. While this interim government system did not stop a great deal of violence it did allow Somalia to remain intact.

In addition, particularly prior to the implementation of the Transitional Federal Government, neo-patrimonialism did play a role in allowing the anarchy to flourish thus making it exceedingly more difficult to establish a central government. Many of the faction’s leaders wished to control territory for self-fulfillment, wealth, and personal gain. Very little resources were used to help strengthen Somalia’s citizens or infrastructure. The consequences of this resulted in the formation of a number of terrorist groups with strong grievances such as Al-Shabaab. Currently one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations, this terrorist group will cause significant turmoil for years to come as a result. To limit the emergence of similar groups, the Transitional Federal Government was much needed and critical in keeping the country together.

Somalia was then able to transition to a new federal parliament and speaker in 2012. President Hassan Mohamud was elected president and Somalia became the Federal Government of Somalia. President Mohamud has worked on continued growth and political stability however; a large portion of the country is still overrun by international terrorism and insurgencies. Without strong national security, Somalia has had difficulty improving on its new central government.

The political culture is still largely made up of hierarchal descent groups or clans. Clans have been an important part of Somali life since the past. The different clans can at times assist in unifying the nation but can also do great damage as the system is highly unstable. However, this traditional Somali political organization is still a large part of the Somali’s identity and must still play a role in stabilizing the country and unifying the Somali people.

Ultimately, Somalia’s political institution and culture play important roles in Somalia’s foreign policy and international relations. Somalia relies on the international community to assist both economically as well as with certain security measures. In many ways this assistance helps Somalia avoid being a failed state. Somalia continues to be a safe haven for terrorist, which has caused diplomatic issues with border neighbors such as Ethiopia. However because of terrorism’s threat to Western world, a great deal of attention is still given to Somalia’s government. Currently, Somalia does not have a concrete foreign policy plan until it deals with the variety of domestic issues that plague the Somali people. Although there is a clear lack of foreign policy, relationships with certain members of the international community as well as international organizations are still essential to the continued existence of Somalia. The United States, Saudi Arabia, World Bank, United Nations, and the Organization of African Unity are all assisting in a variety of different/ crucial ways. With a relatively new central government and a plethora of serious issues, Somalia will need serious assistance from the IC for a number of years before true stability.

 

Sources: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/~jmroth/

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2863.htm

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14094503

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Journal Post 2

Egypt, like many African countries, has been dominated by a series of semi legitimate strong man leaders who have suppressed free speech and claimed authoritarian powers in order to control the country and its populace. These leaders have varied greatly in their foreign policies, even doing a complete Cold War flip from supporting the USSR to allying themselves with the US, making international relations with Egypt complicated and unreliable. Egypt had a difficult time establishing a stable government following its independence in 1953. The government, which is theoretically run by a president working in tandem with a prime minister and parliament, has been dominated by authoritarian dictators claiming to be legitimate presidents since the country’s founding.

President Gamal Nasser seized power in 1954 following the success of his independence movement in 1952. Nasser aligned himself with the USSR during the cold war, a stance that would be reversed by his successor. President Anwar Sadat rose to the presidency after Nasser’s death in 1970. Sadat’s foreign policy in the Cold War was in stark contrast to Nasser’s, as he promptly aligned Egypt with the US once he gained office and began enforcing secular, more liberal policies. Violence and unrest are unfortunately not uncommon occurrences in Egyptian politics. In 1981Sadat was assassinated by Islamic extremists opposed to his secular policies.

Hosni Mubarak rose to power after Sadat’s brutal murder and immediately began to crack down further on media groups and opposition leaders. Islamist terrorist groups continued to devastate the country throughout Mubarak’s reign. He managed to maintain relative stability until 2003 when the popular Kefaya movement began to strongly demand more democratic measures and civil liberties. This movement rapidly gained power and in 2011 began a success protest of Mubarak’s regime, forcing him to resign in the face of mass public demonstrations.

Egypt has been experiencing a turbulent political atmosphere since the 2011 Egyptian Revolution ousted long term President Hosni Mubarak. After the election the military acted as the moderator until a president could be elected. Despite serious concerns, the military did not take power for itself after the 2011 revolution, instead setting up Egypt’s first ever legitimate presidential election. Mohammad Morsi, a candidate with close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, became the first legitimate Egyptian president following the election. However, Morsi soon displayed many of the qualities of his authoritarian predecessors, assuming numerous unprecedented powers and installing a cabal of Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

Violent mass protests followed Morsi’s new policies, leading to bloody riots in Cairo’s streets. The military once again interceded and deposed Morsi. Justice Mansour was briefly put into power by the military as an interim president. The leader of the military, Fattah al-Sisi, claimed power in 2014. He outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood and began drawing up a new constitution but has not made clear when or if he intends to peacefully transition power.

Neo-patrimonialism has been a defining feature throughout essentially all of Egypt’s various regimes. The authoritarian leaders needed as much support as they could get from the bureaucracy and military and as such gave financial incentives and positions of power to those willing to obey them. One of the most pervasive forms of corruption in Egypt is the government toleration of a system of bribery used to extort citizens. A bribe is necessary to accomplish almost anything involving the Egyptian government, from obtaining a business license to getting into a public university.

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13313371

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0zBU_W-bDQ

http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/commission-announces-proposed-changes-egyptian-constitution

 

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Political Culture, Neopatrimonialism, and Foreign Relations in the DRC

After decades of war and violence, the Democratic Republic of Congo, at least on a surface level, appears to be recovering, albeit slowly. Years of decline due to the corruption that came with weak political institutions caused what should be a promising country due to vast resources and territory to become effectively a war zone, ruled in a patrimonial then neopatrimonial fashion by the political elite, and their friends and family, both domestic and international.

Corruption has been far too common in what is now the DRC since Joseph Mobutu seized power following the hasty installation of a government under Patrice Lumuba, as Belgium withdrew from the continent in the 1960s. Mobutu, like Leopold before him, utilized the country as a personal piggy-bank, taking advantage of the vast resources it had to offer to accumulate enourmous wealth, and allowing those closest to him, including partners from the United States (the U.S. viewed Mobutu as anti-Soviet) and other foreign powers significant advantages in extraction and trade.

Today, current President Joseph Kabila has been implicated by international watchdogs in similar corrupt activities, even though Kabila’s father led forces which overthrew Mobutu’s reign. This is significant, because it highlights the political culture in the DRC, which allows neopatrimonial corruption, and even expects it from its leaders. Although Kabila has pledged to combat the problem of corruption within his government, “there is neither indication of firm political will, nor evidence of progress beyond the establishment of a strong legal framework, which is rarely enforced in practice.”  (transparency.org) This is consistent with Taylor’s and Williams’ assertion that “neopatrimonial states house hybrid regimes wherein the informal mechanisms of political authority described above ‘coexist with the formal trappings of the modern state’ such as a bureaucracy, written laws and the institutions of a Weberian legalrational system.” (Taylor and Williams)

The political culture of the DRC, along with its neopatrimonial structure provide ample opportunity for foreign powers to take advantage of the DRC within the international community. For example, China is far  and away the DRC’s largest trading partner, accounting for 43.5% of exports, primarily of raw materials including copper, gold, cobalt, wood, and even diamonds. (CIA World Factbook) The structures in place allow for close relationships between those political elite who control natural resources, and foreign (especially Chinese) investors. These relationships have been evidenced by the skyrocketing net worth of not only Kabila, but his close group of advisors called “the Kabila boys.” (BBC) Although Kabila himself has never been implicated in any corrupt extractive schemes, one of the “Kabila boys”, Katumba Mwenke was accused of profiteering off of the recent five-year civil war through shady dealings with Zimbabwe. This is consistent with Cameron Thies’ idea that increased incidences of war can be linked to increased extraction. (Thies)

Although on a surface level, Joseph Kabila appears committed to ending neopatrimonialism, and severing toxic international relationships, his actions show otherwise. Only time will tell whether or not the DRCs’ vast resources will ever be used not only for the economic benefit of a privileged political elite, but for the good of the entire nation.

 

Sources

 “National Design and State Building in Sub-Saharan Africa” – Cameron g. Thies

“Political Culture, State Elites and Regional Security in West Africa” – Ian Taylor and Paul D. Williams

http://www.e-ir.info/2013/12/08/the-breakdown-of-societal-order-in-the-democratic-republic-of-congo/.

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cg.html.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-16120557.

http://www.transparency.org/whatwedo/answer/overview_of_corruption_and_anti_corruption_in_the_democratic_republic_.

 

 

 

 

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Political Institutions in Uganda

Uganda has had a difficult time establishing a truly functional state. Being controlled by the British Empire as a protectorate left Ugandans without a system of government or a set of laws. The British focused mainly on Buganda, a large central region in Africa, because of its coffee and cotton production capabilities. The rest of Uganda was left largely untouched by the British, although they claimed the current boundaries and shape of modern Uganda. Thus, as in the case of many African nations, Uganda shares many ethnicities under one government. After achieving independence in 1962, Uganda quickly formed three political parties: the UPC, DP and KY. These parties were split with the UPC representing northern and western ethnic groups, the DP representing Catholics and the KY representing the Buganda.

The early formation of political parties was impressive, but instantly turned upside down after the UPC President suspended the constitution and established a one-party tyrannical system. Uganda then experienced a military regime led by Idi Amin for most of the 1970’s. Amin’s government though was somehow internationally recognized and showed some hope. This hope again did not last when in 1972, Amin decided to deport 50,000 Asians living in Uganda. This decision crumbled Uganda’s future economy and set Uganda back an estimated 20 years in economic growth. Amin’s rule was ruthless, but stable. His overthrow led to six new presidents in as many years.

Today, Yoweri Museveni, who has been in charge since 1986, leads Uganda. Uganda is seen as a Western ally and receives as much as $750 million in US aid annually. Citizens feel free, or at least freer than citizens of other African nations. Uganda has free democratic elections (which have openly criticized for ballot stuffing and corruption. Uganda’s economy is growing, construction is booming and crime is low. Poverty on the other hand is high. Many also claim Uganda’s know their elections are rigged so they do not even bother knowing the candidates, but rather just vote for Museveni. Democracy is often pillared by free and fair elections. Uganda’s Electoral Commission claims to be apolitical, but is claimed to take bribes. As Uganda’s constitution states: the judicial branch was created to enforce a separation of powers. Yet, all justices are chosen based on their preference and loyalty to the ruling party, not their commitment to the rule of law.

Uganda maintains that it is a multi-party system, yet Museveni has been in power for over thirty years. But, with its accusations of torture and unjust arrests of political dissidents, no one is fighting for the prospect of democracy. The issue here as seen in many other African nations, such as Egypt, is the power of the executive branch and the lack of separation of powers. Uganda’s political institutions are corrupt puppets of the ruling party and its leader. The ruling government has found ways to discredit and obstruct opposing parties from running for office and organizing events. Ugandan’s cannot even legally protest the patrimonial system as they continue to watch its empowerment.

In the international world, Uganda is forced to go where Museveni takes them. Uganda is often criticized for its poor human rights record, but praised for its support of the African Union. Uganda’s support across multiple presidencies for the case the people of Southern Sudan is a prime example of the Ugandan’s universal belief of Pan-Africanism. So, although it is a de facto one-party system, Uganda is developing and mending relationships with its African counterparts in hope for a greater African nation.

 

 

Sources:

  • “Synthesis Report of the Proceedings of the 5thState of the Nation Platform” Bernard Tabaire & Jackie Okao
  • Democracy in Uganda after 50 years of Independence. Julius Byarunhanga.

 

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Somalia’s neo-patrimonial Handicap, Tribalism vs Federalism

A central tenant in our understanding of the current political climate of Africa pertains to the severe impact of colonialism on the existing institutions within the continent. In regards to Somalia’s current political culture it has been primarily affected by the colonial influence of foreign nations and its subsequent impact on the pre-colonial clan system. The pre-colonial culture of Somalia and their relation to governance maintained a dual nature. Due to the arid qualities of the land, the Somali people developed into a nomadic society. This necessity for independence created a culture in which Somalis became fierce republicans, regarding personal autonomy above all else. However, in order to maintain access to these limited resources the necessity for larger communities or clans also arose. Clan hierarchy dictated, “that land and resources are divided along clan lines, and these resources are accordingly collective endowments” (Roble). The blatant contradiction of these two poli-cultural systems can be identified as the source of much of Somalia’s political discord in the present era. Other sources of discord extend to the often times disconnect and exploitation of clans that exist in the periphery versus those that inhabit the center. This is almost an extension of clan politics because those that inhabit the state maintain dominance over a region’s resources (wealth, water, food, etc…). While those that maintain a pastoral community within the periphery are then left without any means of capital and supply.

Unification was a persistent challenge to the Somali political landscape, due to the constant boundary disputes with its neighbors to the north and south. For example, the encroachment of Ethiopia upon fertile lands caused military action in both 64’ and 78’. These engagements are the few times in which clans performed a joint action and displayed any semblance of a national conscience. Only later in an attempt to create a sovereign nature, did the nation almost unify in the 60’s under a unitary state. Somalia’s unitary state system was where power was consolidated in the capital city of Mogadishu and through trickle-down development was supposed to spread throughout the territory. What actually transpired was quite different, because instead the consolidations of resources only lead to more abuses from pre-established colonial elites within the capital. Periphery insurgency groups developed in the 80’s in order to combat the oppressive state and led to the eventual dissolution of the government in 1991. The resurgence of Somali governance has only occurred recently when in 2013, the republic had elected through their legislative body President Hassan Mohamud as head of the new federalist system.

Neo-patrimonialism is a term used to describe the system of social order that involves the existence off patron-client relations and consistent political instability amongst defined political institutions that have legal-rational authority. Applying this concept to Somali government is a relatively simple task due to its necessity amongst the existing Somali political climate. Competing identity groups amongst the various clans like the Geri, Issa, Hawiye vied for power within existing bureaucratic structures. Doing so ensured that resources from the government could be allocated to those of the same clan. This behavior in Somali was not only ignored but also expected within all societal domains. In addition in order for any periphery clans to gain the necessary resources, they needed to use the neo-patrimonial system because it had an established informal network within the nation. Only within the last several years has any progress been made to eliminate this destructive political system. The election of President Mohamud has become a symbol for a reformed Somali. His election was largely supported due to his aversion of any clan related politics and focus instead on unification. Mohamud’s attempts at creating a republic and engaging with foreign powers has led to the decline in Somali maritime crime and stalled the developing presence of Islamic terrorists (al-Shabab) within the nation. All of which has led to support from foreign powers and organizations such as the US in 2013 and ongoing efforts by AMISOM. The eradication of tribalism and clientelism within Somali has long appeared impossible but there has been hope in recent years in forming a true stable sovereign nation.

Sources:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03056240500329379?scroll=top&needAccess=true

Neopatrimonialism in Contemporary African Politics

http://www.wardheernews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/The-Culture-of-Politics_Faisal2.pdf

Articles

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2863.htm

https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/S0022278X05001205

 

 

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