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Issues and Dilemmas of Multi-Party Democracy in Africa

Seyoum Hameso


A unique African democracy is not something which will emerge from a rational blueprint, Claude Ake noted nearly a decade ago; it will emerge from practical experience and improvisation in the course of a hard struggle. The “rational blueprint” he had in mind was the liberal multiparty democracy, in which political participation and exclusion stem from periodic elections with many parties contesting for votes cast on individual basis (one-person, one-vote). Robert Dahl (1989:221) described three essential conditions for a multiparty democracy to function. These are: a) extensive competition by contestants including individuals, groups or parties for government; b) political participation that provides the choice for the electorate to select candidates in free and fair elections; and, c) civil and political liberties that enable citizens to express themselves without fear of punishment.

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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