Reuters Africa

DAKAR (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Africa on Wednesday to recommit to democracy, declaring the “old ways of governing” can no longer work on a continent boasting healthy economic growth and an increasingly empowered citizenry.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) meets with Senegal's President Macky Sall at the Presidential Palace in Dakar August 1, 2012. Clinton arrived in Senegal on Tuesday, beginning a trip that will take her both to Africa's newest nation South Sudan and on a private visit to the continent's elder statesman, 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. REUTERS/Jacquelyn Martin/Pool

President Macky Sall of Senegal and Hilary Clinton

Clinton, launching a seven-nation Africa tour, praised her hosts in Senegal for overcoming tensions to hold elections in March that saw President Macky Sall defeat long-time incumbent Abdoulaye Wade, reinforcing the country’s credentials as one of the most stable democracies in the continent.

But she said democracy was too often on the back foot in Africa despite decades of economic progress.

“There are still too many Africans living under autocratic rulers who care more about preserving their grip on power than promoting the welfare of their citizens,” Clinton said in a speech at Dakar’s University of Cheikh Anta Diop, noting that coups and power grabs had reduced the count of full electoral democracies on the continent to 19 in 2012 from 24 in 2005.

“The old ways of governing are no longer acceptable. It is time for leaders to accept accountability, treat their people with dignity, respect their rights, and deliver economic opportunity. And if they will not, then it is time for them to go,” she said.

Constitutional order has been restored in Niger and Guinea following recent coups, while Benin, Cape Verde, Liberia, Nigeria, Zambia and Togo have all held credible elections over the past year.

But Clinton warned that sobering alternative paths were being taken by Mali and Guinea-Bissau, saying the latter risked becoming “dependent” on Latin American drug traffickers.  Read more…