Review of the Political Climate in Africa in 2023: Political Prisoners and Human Rights in Turmoil
What were the main challenges to human rights in Africa in 2023?
Everywhere we look on the planet, arbitrariness and state violence are gaining ground. On the continent, the iron grip of unscrupulous leaders tightens around the neck of the engaged citizen. They find themselves with no choice but to submit, collaborate, or go into exile. They are increasingly on the roads of exile, where they encounter the Frontex steamroller in the Mediterranean or its proxy in Libya and Tunisia. Countless victims, like Fati and her 6-year-old daughter Marie, have been sent to die by thirst, after being abandoned in the desert by Tunisian authorities. Mayotte witnessed a large-scale military operation, Wuambushu, displacing populations and destroying the homes of Comorian people, routinely treated as undesirable and blamed for all the ills afflicting the island under French occupation.
These are paths where Africans lose their lives or freedom in the pursuit of gaining them.
Social media has become the amplifier of seemingly forgotten, deadly conflicts in Western media coverage. Sudan, where 24 millions of children face death on the daily, is torn apart, and the terrifying stories of civilian victims massacred in the crossfire of former allies, SAF and RSF, will leave deep scars in the region.
How is Africa disproportionately affected by the climate crisis, and what are the consequences for its populations?
Climate Crisis and Social Repercussions
Naturally, we cannot be satisfied with the assessment of the political and social situation in Africa in 2023. The continent is literally burning. Despite accounting for only 4% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to UN Secretary-General A. Gutierrez, Africa pays a heavy price for the climate crisis: drought in Kenya and desertification in the Horn of Africa, cyclones, rising waters, and floods in Rwanda and Uganda, among others, cause food shortages, price hikes, population displacements, and political crises.
What role should military force play in maintaining the sovereignty of African states?
Political Upheavals and Militarization
A wave of revolt has swept through the Sahel and (again) toppled powers in Niger and Gabon like a house of cards. It also drove French military forces out of Niger, following a strong anti-French sentiment unanimously shared by both the population and their new leaders.
Since 2020, coups d’état have made a grand comeback, even repeating in Burkina Faso and Mali. This signals persistent instability, which is fairly concerning given the geopolitical and social stakes for the continent’s future in these areas exposed to both the dangers of climate change and state instability. The military that is successful in their coup struggles to fulfill their promise of a democratic transition to civilian power and continually extends their mandate.
While at Afrikki, our commitment to democratic power without military interference is unequivocal, the question of force as a means to maintain the sovereignty of African states deserves attention. Russia is gaining popularity as an alternative to alliances with the West. Despite popular measures, such as the removal of French as the official language in Mali and Burkina Faso and the political rehabilitation of local languages, military power bases its legitimacy on force and populism. In 2024, pro-democracy organizations must strike a balance between the legitimate aspirations of people for more sovereignty and the threat to fundamental rights and liberties posed by military regimes, as steeped in pan-Africanism and patriotism as they claim to be.
Economic Exploitation, Corruption, and Imperialism
How do technology and industry contribute to the global race for economic exploitation in Africa?
Our territories whet the insatiable appetites of imperialists. The race toward reducing CO2 emissions goes into overdrive, involving the electrification of the automotive industry and the massive production of electronic devices with planned obsolescence and marketing strategies that make them disposable products despite their enormous human and environmental costs. This makes the minerals found in our lands, extracted in deplorable conditions, increasingly desirable. It attracts the greed of corporations and fuels conflicts created by a few actors eager to share this lucrative and strategic bloody pie. Africa, more than ever, remains a great neocolonial project offered, through unscrupulous leadership, to the highest bidders, for their personal enrichment, them and their clan.
Perspectives for 2024
What will happen in 2024 in Africa ?
The year begins with elections concluding in the DRC and ongoing elections in the Comoros, while the former president Sambi, the primary opposition to the regime, enters his 6th year of detention, and the repressive response following the protests against the disputed first results after electoral fraud widely documented on social networks has already resulted in one death at the hands of the army.High-tension election campaign to come in Senegal too. The country has long been cited as a model in Africa for the resistance of its democratic institutions. Terrible repression befell Ousmane Sonko, the main leader of the opposition, who was detained & deprived of his civil rights in 2023, and his supporters. Aliou Sané, Coordinator of Y en a Marre and co-founder of Afrikki, also currently detained unjustly in Reubeuss prison in Dakar despite several court decisions and a large call from civil society, organizations and public figures for his immediate release. We can nonetheless legitimately rejoice in thwarting Macky Sall’s project for a third term, the second one having definitely tarnished his political legacy.
2024 in Africa: A Year of Resistance and Resilience
Let’s close this inventory on a more positive note. It is worth noting that if repression is fierce, it is also because the resistance is equally so. Journalists, activists, and opponents are keeping up the fight. The key to our destiny lies in the ability to renew determination and commitment among us despite distractions and the undermining of the education system, rather aimed at creating future agents of the capital than conscious citizens with sharpened critical thinking abilities.
Afrikki, on behalf of all its member organizations, extends a wish for resistance and resilience to all arbitrarily imprisoned and exiled men and women without hope of return home for having dared to speak the truth, denounce the lies, and demand the respect of fundamental values owed to every human being and still denied to so many African citizens.