In a surprising turn of events, opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari was able to outpoll incumbent Goodluck Jonathan—and the latter peacefully acknowledged his defeat.
Democracy’s fortunes rose in Africa in the 1990s, but more recently have been in retreat. The forces of democratic resurgence remain in play, however, as a
look at the key case of Nigeria suggests.
Nigeria’s 2011 presidential election offered its citizens the most competitive and transparent contest in decades, but also the bloodiest.
- Excerpts from Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan’s inaugural address, given on May 29.
- Portions of “A Vision of a Democratic Libya,” the March 29 statement issued by the 31-member Libyan Interim National Council.
- Excerpts of the final statement issued by participants of the Conference for Change in Syria, held in Antalya, Turkey, from May 31 to June 2.
In Africa today, investment flows in and civil societies grow stronger, yet many of the continent's leaders continue to behave autocratically, defending their privileges against the spread of law-based rule.
The failure of the elections has been partly mitigated by the hope of judicial review of electoral malfeasance, the stabilizing ingenuity of ethno-regional power-sharing, and renewed national discussions of electoral reforms.
By graciously accepting the defeat of a constitutional amendment that would have enabled him to seek a third term, President Olusegun Obasanjo has solidified his contribution to Nigerian democracy, but much remains to be done.
The election cycle concluding in the spring of 2003 was a guarded success. High hurdles to better governance and democratic consolidation remain, but Nigerians can now face them with greater hope.