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Des dictatures ouest-africaines « éclairées » contestées par la capture de l'État ? Perspectives du Bénin, du Togo et du Sénégal

Kohnert, Dirk (2022): Des dictatures ouest-africaines « éclairées » contestées par la capture de l'État ? Perspectives du Bénin, du Togo et du Sénégal.

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Populist nationalism is on the rise in sub-Saharan Africa. Depending on the political orientation, it is both reinforced and confronted by social media and social movements. Nationalism also cements the longstanding rule of autocratic regimes in West Africa, particularly in Togo, Benin and Senegal. Supported by the commodification of the party system, autocrats set up a shadow state. They use populism to prop up their illegitimate rule and to destabilize the opposition. The internet and social media play a crucial role in the spread of fake news through the mostly state-controlled media. The Catholic Church also tried, with little success, to counteract the wave of nationalism. In Benin, for example, in 2019 the bishops of Cotonou called for a ‘fast on the lies that inundate and poison interpersonal and social relationships’. In Lomé, the bishops' conference condemned the systematic persecution of the opposition and the arrest of its leader, presidential candidate and former prime minister Agbeyome Kodjo. Senegal, like Benin, has long been marketed as a 'showcase of democracy' in Africa, including peaceful political transition. But things changed radically with the 2019 Senegalese presidential election, which brought new configurations. One of the main problems was political transhumance, which was elevated to the rank of religion with disregard for political morality. It threatened political stability and peace. In response, social networks of mostly young activists established in 2011 after the Arab Spring focused on campaigning for grassroots voters for good governance and democracy. They proposed a break with a political system they saw as neo-colonialist. Activists such as 'Y'en a marre' (literally 'I'm fed up') and other dissident social movements benefited from the country's particular social conditions, which favoured collective action. Should President Macky Sall opt for a third term in 2024, it would again pose a serious challenge to Senegalese democracy.

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