Democracy in Africa: Stuck in the Grey Zone




06:00 p.m. (CET)

  • Three long-term African leaders had to go in 2017: the Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh was forced to accept his electoral defeat; Angola’s José Eduardo dos Santos did not stand for yet another term; and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe was forced out of power. But even though overt military coups are widely condemned on the continent and executive turnovers are most frequently incited by the ballot boxes, formal rules like presidential term limits are contested and civil society is often under pressure.

    This GIGA Talk will address the current political developments in sub-Saharan Africa, specifically highlighting the democratic trajectory of Nigeria – one of the most powerful countries on the continent and a prominent and typical example of a political order stuck in the grey zone between dictatorship and democracy. The GIGA Talk will also include a discussion of strategies to support democratic developments in times of shrinking spaces and contested formal institutions.

    Speakers: Charlotte Heyl, Research Fellow at the GIGA Institute for African Affairs. Her research focuses on democratisation, constitutional courts, elections, and presidential term limits in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji, Research Fellow at the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nigeria. He has published widely on elections and middle-class activism in Nigeria and recently served as Election Commissioner for the governorship election in Anambra State, Nigeria.

    Discussant: Georg Schmidt, Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahel of the Federal Foreign Office

    Moderator: Dr. Christian von Soest, Lead Research Fellow and Head of GIGA’s Peace and Security Research Programme

    Please confirm your attendance by 24 January 2018 by sending an e-mail to

    The Chatham House Rule applies to this event. Unfortunately, the venue is not wheelchair accessible.


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