Africa's "new" leaders.

Position:Cover Story: DEMOCRACY - Cover story

Nine new leaders have won elections and taken office in the past year. But for many of these men--and they are all men--new is a relative term, raising the question: What does the face of Africa's elected leaders look like?

No doubt power in Africa is changing hands, constitutionally and through the ballot more than ever before--a cause for celebration. But an insightful look at Africa's newest leaders reveals how they are not all really new-kids-on-the-block. More telling is also how male the crop of new leaders continues to be, in a continent where more than 50% of the population is female, and it is considered the youngest in terms of its economically active youth. Age and a deep knowledge of politics may be of benefit, but with the new leaders averaging 69 years old, and all of them being men, clearly African democracy still lacks diversity. An even closer look further reveals how voter apathy is at play in Africa's new democratic wave.


Abdel Fattah el-Sisi--60

23.8 million votes

53.8 million registered voters

In June last year, Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi became simply President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, following a landslide election victory. Sisi had brought to an end Egypt's year-long experiment with elected Muslim Brotherhood rule the previous July when he overthrew President Mohamed Morsi. Sadly, since then, Egypt has been returning to a model of military-led authoritarian government that is all too familiar.


Peter Mutharika--74

1.9 million votes

7.5 million registered voters

Bingu wa Mutharika wanted his brother Peter to succeed him as president. Bingu's deputy Joyce Banda was having none of it. And when Bingu died, Banda won the constitutional struggle. But just two years later, Peter, a former law academic, beat Banda at the ballot box. As a former foreign minister and close advisor to his brother, Peter is hardly a new face but he has struck a more conciliatory tone than his often-belligerent brother.


Beji Caid Essebsi--88

1.7 million votes

4.9 million registered voters

Tunisia's new president is a political old hand. The world's third-oldest head of state, behind Robert Mugabe and Queen Elizabeth II, started his political career in 1956 as an advisor to Tunisia's independence leader Habib Bourguiba. He subsequently served as interior, defence and foreign minister. Although very much part of Tunisia's political establishment, Caid Essebsi was appointed Interim Prime Minister following the overthrow of...

To continue reading