oa Africa Insight - Geopolitics, glasnost and Africa's second liberation: Political and security implications for the continent

Volume 21, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



A commentator noted earlier this year that when Mikhail Gorbachev succeeded Konstantin Chernenko to the secretary-generalship of the Soviet Communist Party in 1985, it seemed as if it was merely another change in the ruling political/bureaucratic elite. Very few observers - either inside or outside the USSR - thought that Gorbachev could unleash forces that within a few short years would have profound repercussions, not just inside the Soviet Union but also in Europe and across the Third World. Political and economic reforms in the USSR (glasnost: political openness; perestroika: economic restructuring) and the rapid replacement of seemingly entrenched and highly repressive regimes in Eastern Europe, blew fresh gales of change over the African landmass. They had major consequences for the continent, catalysing demands for democratic reform and an end to single-party hegemony.

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