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Vol 41 No 1

Published 7th January 2000

Brave new century

Dealing with the conflicts from the Atlantic to the Red Sea will dominate this year's policy agenda

The tempo of political and economic change in Africa will speed up in 2000. In six elections, credible opposition parties will vie for power. Heavy pressure is building up on the continent's gerontocracies, especially in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Africa has the world's youngest voters but its rulers are still among the oldest and demands for a generational shift are growing. Few people harbour illusions about the merits of what Malawian political scientist Thandika Mkandawire calls 'choiceless democracies'. Like Mkandawire, many Africans lament the lack of real policy choices between ruling parties and their opponents but fully support the democratisation impetus and its halting progress of the last decade. However much they wriggle, governments are becoming more accountable and the kleptocrats' room for manoeuvre is diminishing. Foreign aid is falling rapidly and mainstream private capital is increasingly reluctant to deal with grossly corrupt regimes.

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