n African Security Review - Civil-military relations in Africa : navigating uncharted waters : essay

Volume 15, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1024-6029
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This essay discusses the military as a part of wider society and the interactions between the two. It argues that civil-military relations are complex and not always harmonious. In its focus on Africa, the essay describes some differences in the development of African militaries and civil-military relations on the continent as compared with the West, but argues that the differences are merely a matter of degree. As civil-military relations on the continent have been strongly influenced by its colonial history, which caused fear and even dislike of the colonial military, it still impacts on these relations in the post-colonial era. After examining the relationship between the armed forces, democracy and politics in the politically turbulent African environment, it is concluded that a simplistic definition of civil-military relations is difficult to arrive at. The essay identifies the key principles of democratic civil-military relations and, although admitting that these principles are not always easy to adhere to, argues that as Africa develops civil-military relations, African militaries have moved and will move closer to observing these principles. To enhance this process it is essential for African militaries to include civic education programmes at all levels of education and training in order to gain a better understanding of and commitment to these principles.

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