Authored by: Kristen A. Harkness

Routledge Handbook of Democratization in Africa

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138081246
eBook ISBN: 9781315112978
Adobe ISBN:


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The military plays a critical role in democratization. Soldiers have refused to fire on protestors and they have overthrown longstanding dictators, opening a window for political change. Conversely, they have also blocked democratization by annulling elections or seizing the reins of power for themselves. Militaries also shape the long-term prospects for democratic consolidation through their continued coup threat and by leveraging their power during the transition to ensure immunity deals, entrench their own institutional prerogatives, and maintain authoritarian practices. This chapter overviews the existing literature on the military and democracy in Africa, broken into three temporal phases: the military’s role in launching democratization; the civil–military pathologies inherited by new democratic governments; and the process of reform necessary for democratic consolidation.

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