September 15: Africa Marks U.N. International Day of Democracy

International Day of Democracy (News Central TV)
International Day of Democracy (News Central TV)

The United Nations (U.N.) International Day of Democracy is observed on September 15 annually.

It is an event to assess and review the state of democracy in various countries across the globe, especially in terms of freedom of speech, protection of human rights, and other social and economic dividends. 

The day was established through a resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007. The word ‘democracy’ was derived its origin from the Greek word, ‘demokratia’, which means “rule of the people”.

 “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela

Africa Markis U.N. International Day of Democracy  (News Central TV)
Map showing Democratic Index of countries in Africa. Source: Visual Capitalist

Among the things discussed and advocated for on the International Day of Democracy are the values of freedom and equality. It is a day set aside to highlight the relevance of the contribution and participation of citizens in the process of governance.

The theme of this year’s International Day of Democracy is “Empowering the Next Generation”. This focuses on the role of children and young people in safeguarding democracy across the globe today and in the years to come.

While Democracy is globally recognised as the best system of government due to the benefits it offers above the others such as the military, monarch, and other authoritarian systems of government, the recent realities of democratically-led countries have shown otherwise.

Recently, there has been a festival of coups in democratically-led African states and a culture of celebration by the masses after military takeovers. West, East, and Central African have had their share of forceful change of the system of government.

The latest has been the ousting of Gabon’s President Ali Bongo and President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger, who was being held by his presidential guards inside his palace in the nation’s capital Niamey, in what the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) called an attempted coup.

It is the sixth coup or attempted takeover of power in West and Central Africa in less than three years. Despite efforts over the past 10 years to lose its name as the “coup belt,” the area has struggled with ongoing insecurity and corruption, which has allowed military commanders to gain control.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Administrator, Samantha Power, Administrator on Friday, September 15, released a statement to mark the International Day of Democracy.

It said: “We know that democratic openings can be fleeting. High debt burdens, corrupt systems, and the actions of those who fear more transparency and citizen agency can keep the benefits of democratic reforms from reaching communities quickly enough for them to recognise that democracy can deliver.

“So, as we build on our decades of leadership in advancing democratic progress, we are also focusing on an essential insight, that for democratic openings to endure, newly-elected leaders need support in showing tangible results for their people – drawing in investment, boosting economic growth, and improving basic services such as water, sanitation, and health care.”


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