Coalition, dispersion

Coalition, dispersion

Un moment democratique en Afrique de l'Ouest 'francophone', 1988-1996

Michel Ben Arrous

Les années 1988 à 1996 ont constitue, par l’ampleur des forces sociales mobilisées autour de la démocratie, un moment politique comparable au moment anti-colonial des années 1945-1960. Apres trois décennies de monopole des partis-États sur la construction nationale et sur le développement économique et social, s’est opéré un vaste mouvement de reparticipation a la conduite des affaires publiques. De vastes coalitions de mouvements sociaux se sont formées, fédérées, puis dispersées. Leur dispersion n’a pas rendu, désormais, l’enjeu démocratique moins brûlant. La difficulté est aujourd’hui de dépasser une démocratie «cube Maggi», servie à toutes les sauces et a tous les discours, pour en refaire un objet concret et mobilisateur. L’enjeu démocratique s’entend bien au-delà des figures de style gouvernemental. Il embrasse les conditions mêmes de reproduction des sociétés ouest-africaines.

In Francophone West Africa, the times between 1988 and 1996 can be compared - in terms of their significance for politics and democracy, and the magnitude of social forces mobilised - with the years of anti-colonial struggle between 1945 and 1960. Three decades of state-party monopolies of national, economic and social development gave way to popular movements and widespread re-participation in the running of public affairs. Coalitions of social movements were formed, federalised; and then dispersed. Their dispersal however did not render the democratic stakes any less urgent. This book identifies that the present difficulty is to move beyond notions of democracy conceived to suit any circumstances of discourse, to a more concrete definition, and a mobilising democratic process. It further argues that what is at stake for democracy stretches well beyond the parameters styled by governments; and encompasses for example conditions of reproduction of West African societies. The author presents a two-pronged analysis: first of the democratic discourse eg definitions, concepts, frameworks of analysis, academic and popular discourse; and second of democratic spaces, vehicles and institutions. The book urges throughout that the narrative of West African political history of the last decade be instated within the context of the long period of emancipation struggles. (In French)

ISBN 9782869781214 | 156 pages | 229 x 152 mm | 2003 | CODESRIA, Senegal | Paperback

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About the Author

Michel Ben Arrous

Michel Ben Arrous is an architect, an independent urbanist and geographer who graduated from Ecole polytechnique fédérale of Lausanne, Switzerland. His research work involves history, the philosophy of ideas and geographic preconceptions and their relationship with violence or political legitimacy. As a former journalist in Southern Africa and in Senegal, Arrous’ main publications include Media and Conflicts in Africa (Karthala 2002) and Coalition, Dispersion, a Democratic Moment in “Francophone” West Africa, 1988-1996 (CODESRIA 2003).

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