n Journal of Public Administration - A critical appraisal of the American ideological position on Africa's democratisation

Volume 49, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



In 1990 the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR); and, the United States of America (US) emerged as the sole superpower in the world. As the "winner" of the Cold War, the US intensified its strategy to gain more influence in Africa, a former battleground for several superpower proxy wars, in a drive to spread its ideology of liberal democracy. The enlargement policy was meant to free undemocratic states from autocratic regimes and to strengthen those in transition as a way of enlarging the free world. This paper asserts that the US enjoyed a virtual "blank cheque" to dominate Africa's political institutions and systems, hence Africa is currently characterised by skeletons of Western-style democracies and, in some cases, multiparty government systems, without the state's governance necessarily being democratic. The extent of the positive role, if any, of the US in the maturation of African democracies remains contested. This paper argues that the US has shown a proclivity for funding both its allies and their enemies across the board; and that this contradiction has often produced political instabilities rather than stable democratic environments. This paper, therefore, provides an analysis of the relevance and influence of the US model of democracy in Africa. It also explores the US commitment to the promotion of democracy in Africa, as one of the cornerstones of its foreign policy.

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