Phil Clark discusses why the Arab Spring has so far failed to spread south of the Sahara – but suggests there are still good reasons why some African leaders should be looking over their shoulder.
When the so-called Jasmine Revolution rolled eastward from Tunisia to Libya and Egypt in early 2011, many commentators – not to mention many jittery African leaders – believed that a southward spread was inevitable. All of the principal causes of revolution in north Africa also pertained south of the Sahara: decades-long dictatorships, endemic government corruption, enormous wealth disparities, high unemployment, public fury over rigged elections, rising commodity prices and a lack of civil and political rights. Indeed, the contagion of revolution seemed to have taken hold when political and economic protests broke out across Africa in the first half of 2011, with protestors in Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Morocco, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Gabon and South Africa citing the ‘north African spring’ as their inspiration.
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