FULL ARTICLE ON ALJAZEERA-ENGLISH : http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/12/africa-learning-hard-lessons-arab-spring-2013121771840774707.html
On the occasion of the third anniversary of Bouazizi’s’s self immolation which launched the « Arab Spring« , I have published an op-ed in Al Jazeera_English website opinion’s page.
Africa: Learning the hard lessons of Arab Spring, by Acheikh Ibn-Oumar , Last updated: 18 Dec 2013 09:14
Back in December 2010, no one was aware that the suicidal gesture of a young Tunisian street vendor would trigger a tidal wave of unprecedented popular uprisings in his country and others.
The media reverberations have shaken the whole planet. However, in Sub-Saharan Africa, the impact was more profound than in other continents.
There was a spontaneous identification with the popular protests going on in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, etc. not only because of the geographical proximity, but also because of the many similarities as regards the socio-economic and political situations, and the deep-rooted links between the nations north and south of the Sahara.
When demonstrators in Tahrir square, Habib Bourguiba avenue, or Al Mahkama square (Benghazi), shouted their anger against protracted dictatorship, resources plundering by ruling party members, the Head of State and the First Lady’s relatives, against sham elections, deterioration of health, education and public services, etc. many Africans felt they had been victims to the same evils for ages. Even those countries with a degree of political and media pluralism coupled with formal electoral competition, were not immune from that identification. Actually, the immediate and more pressing needs of the African populace is neither political pluralism nor fair and free elections, but primarily: decent conditions of living, equitable resource distribution, equality of citizens before the Law, and above all: jobs!
It was no surprise,then, to see demonstrations, albeit limited, erupting in a dozen of African countries, with open reference to the Arab Spring. Many Africans were saying in whispers: « If they can do it, why can’t we do it too?”
As for the African governments, there was a real sense of anguish and even fear
Those were the immediate reactions, but with time, things have evolved in different directions.
Interrogations turned into disappointment, disappointment turned into suspicion and, sometimes, outright rejection. On the other hand, the authorities gained confidence about their ability to prevent, or at least circumscribe, any popular movement.
There are a number of reasons for that negative evolution, the more prominent ones being: the NATO military intervention in Libya, the political pre-eminence of Islamist political parties, the sudden rise of the Jihadist/armed groups in Northern Mali and Syria, and the armed forces interference with the political process in Egypt.