They claim the multiplicity of ethnic groups does not make it easy for the continent to adopt principles of democratic governance.
Other circumstances that provoke concern are the seeming life terms of heads of states such as Paul Biya in Cameroon, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Eduardo dos Santos in Angola, and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, as well as Soviet-style landslide re-election victories, as that of Rwanda in 2010.
Although up to 27 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa held crucial elections in 2011 alone, it is increasingly acknowledged that elections alone do not make democracy.
The current trend of democratic decline suggests the need for an analysis that goes beyond the superficial reading of Africa's political landscape.
Is democracy really on decline in Africa and, if so, why?
What triggered, in the first place, the democratization process in Africa in the early 1990s?
Was the phenomenon a mere post-Cold War fad that is now entering into recession after the keen interest for change has passed?Perhaps, as some have suggested, democracy is failing in Africa because it is essentially a Western project lacking in universal significance.(Held 1987: 12; Monga 19) To understand the African democratic experiment, it is crucial to establish the concept's ontology first and, then, to determine the conditions under which democracy emerges and consolidates.Until the early 1990s, most African nations were still dominated by dictatorships, one-party and patrimonial states, lack of transparency and accountability of the leaders, social inequalities and injustices, all of which led to internal instability and civil wars along ethnic lines.The democratization process in Africa coincided with the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War.And while the last twenty years of democratic experience have been rather sloppy and haphazard, many observers blame it on Africa's cultural backwardness.