African Democracy Campaigns (early 1990s)

Central African Republic Unions Strike for Democracy 1990-1993


After achieving independence from French colonial rule in 1960, the Central African Republic was controlled by a series of military coups. On 20 September 1981 General Anre Kolingba overthrew the authority of President Dacko.

Ivorians demand switch to multiparty democracy, 1989-1990


Felix Houphouet-Boigny ruled Cote d'Ivoire for thirty-three years, following its independence in 1960 until his death in 1993. However, Houphouet-Boigny oversaw an important transition to a multiparty system in 1990, which led to the implementation of democratic elections. The transition to a multiparty system came after a large-scale nonviolent campaign by civil servants and students to demand a government that more accurately reflected the will of the people.

Niger women campaign for inclusion in National Assembly, 1991


The 1990s in Africa was a period of broad political movement towards the greater involvement of women in positions of power—this campaign is a part of that change.

Madagascar citizens force free elections, 1990-1992


Madagascar gained its independence from French colonialism in 1960 after nearly 70 years under French rule. Vice Admiral Didier Ratsiraka was sworn into office on December 21, 1975, after a military coup ousted president Philibert Tsiranana, who had been in office since 1959. In his first term as president, Ratsiraka nationalized Madagascar’s banks, insurance companies and mineral resources, following a socialist model that was wrought with censorship and government repression. By the late 1980’s Ratsiraka’s socialist regime had impoverished Madagascar.

Malawians bring down 30-year dictator, 1992-1993


By the early 1990s, President Hastings Kamuzu Banda of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) had been president of Malawi for thirty years, ever since the country transitioned out of colonial rule. At the time, Malawi was a single-party state in which political parties were illegal.

Cameroonians general strike for democratic elections, 1991


In Cameroon in 1989, attorney and Duala chief Yondo Black formed a new major political party, initiating a significant change in the national political climate towards support for a multi-party system. The ruling party of Cameroon was the Cameroonian People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM), and at its helm was President Paul Biya. One of Black’s aims was to challenge the rule of Biya, who had been in office for nine years at that point. Biya and the party have been able to maintain a stronghold on national governance largely due to significant external support from France.

Beninese campaign for economic justice and democracy, 1989-90


Benin gained its independence from France in 1960 and was then named Dahomey. Colonel Mathieu Kérékou took power of the country in a coup in 1972 and later renamed the country the People’s Republic of Benin, organized the economy under a Marxist-Leninist ideology, and outlawed all political parties except his People’s Revolutionary Party of Benin. By the 1980s, Kérékou remained as the president of Benin, but the economy was failing. The government had to lower government aid to students and the salaries for civil servants and in 1988 the state owned banks crashed. Fa

Togolese citizens campaign for democracy, 1991


The Togolese President Gnassingbé Eyadema came to power in 1967 after he led the army in a bloodless coup to take over the previously multi-party government. By 1990, Eyadema had been president for 23 years and had banned all political parties except for his Rally of the Togolese People. President Eyadema had been able to keep the country’s economy relatively stable at the same time as he put many of his Kabye tribe members into top government and military posts. Nearly 70% of all members of the military were from the Kabye tribe, despite the fact that the Ewe tribe repres

Malians defeat dictator, gain free election (March Revolution), 1991


General Moussa Traoré obtained power in Mali in 1968 when he led a military coup d’etat that overthrew the left-leaning nationalist government that had ruled since 1960. Opposition towards Traoré grew during the 1980s, but didn’t fully emerge until the 1990s. During this time, Traoré imposed programs to satisfy demands of the International Monetary Fund, which brought increased hardship upon the country’s population while elites lived in luxury.

Kenyan mothers win release of political prisoners and press for democratic reform, 1992-1993


Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the political atmosphere in Kenya was characterized by brutal government repression and terror. Under the single-party rule of President Daniel arap Moi, any form of political dissension was swiftly met with government interrogation, detention, and torture. Many students, journalists, lawyers, and human rights advocates were among those imprisoned for perceived anti-government statements, ideas, and actions.

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