"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

2.05.2009

not a country ... yet

"Analysts say the AU is in for an interesting year under Col Gaddafi." - BBC

Bless his heart; Muammar Qaddafi just doesn't quit. Days after assuming the presidency of the African Union, the all-but-self-declared "King of Kings" declared that Africa just isn't cut out for multiparty democracy.

Qaddafi actually makes an interesting point; he argues that multiparty politics in Africa make for parties that are "tribalized," which just leads to conflict. I'm guessing Colonel Qaddafi doesn't read the African studies academic journals. If he did, he'd know that the evidence that that's what happens is actually pretty mixed. Sometimes parties become only tribal; in other areas, they manage to gain support from much broader coalitions than we might expect.

What's the alternative, other than a Kingdom of Africa headed by guess who? Qaddafi apparently hadn't considered the possiblity; the BBC reports that he laid his head down on his desk when he realized that the other African heads of state weren't going to just hand over their power like that. Liberian president Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson was too polite to suggest that Qaddafi cried like a little girl, but we all know what really happens with these things. (You really should listen to Mark Doyle's interview with Sirleaf-Johnson. It's 110% awesome.)

It's easy to see why Colonel/King Qaddafi wants what he believes is the far superior model of allowing no opposition parties. After all, Libya ranks 70th of 111 countries on The Economist Intelligence Unit's Quality-of-Life Index, 52nd on UNDP's Human Development Index, 160th on press freedom (narrowly beating out Saudi Arabia!), and 171st on economic freedom. What African state wouldn't want to get in on that?

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