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Interview with Matthias Leridon on Metro’s website

 

“Africa is making its revolution”

Do conflicts that occur in Africa have a traditional character or do they trigger a real change?

Every authoritarian regime availed itself of lack of information for populations. Today, this has changed and the people aspiration to more democracy makes the situation very explosive. Africa reality changes quite quickly. We often comprehend it wrong because of ancestral colonialist links we still have with these countries. It is graved in History: youth that is developins is becoming more and more active in its destiny at the hands of authoritarian regimes. This is a huge movement that is up.

To what is this owed?

 

I think we have to remind us of the particular context of the African continent. First of all, this is a youn continent, it even is the youngest in the world, and sub-Saharan Africa contains 62% of people who are less than 25 years old. Secondly, the accessibility of the Internet and mobile phone industry in these African countries is a major factor. They made a change in the society during the last 10 years. Furthermore, the level of economic growth on this continent is unequivocal: according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the economic growth of the continentwill reach 6% in 2011, which is quite the same as China (9%).
Tunisia was the trigger but the structural trends were already in existence. The pressures the populations where the victims of serve as a veritable “pressure cooker”. To everybody his own pace, they will try to show their willing of liberty and democracy. Reality is that even if it is not the case for all countries this time, it will be soon or later.

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Matthias Leridon

Do you think that there will be a spread of the phenomenon?

These are demonstrations that will hit every country, although each situation is diffrent from a national point of view. Aspirations are there. They will not stop there. Africa is so young: in 2010, we celebrated the 50 years of the pullback of the ex colonies and it apartheid has only been over for 20 years. Africa as still everything to write. This is part of the path of continents to go through liberty. Now, it is doing its revolution.

Is it possible for these countries to go from totalitarian regimes to democratic systems?

I think transition is indeed possible. This is an historical prospect. Even if it is a difficult belt and even if they will have to face an unstable period, the movement is here at the end. Of course, the religious context makes the path to emocracy more complicated but I do have a confidence in youth to go above it.

Do you think that the systems’ collapse benefits to Islamic movements?

 

 

At the hands of fundamentalist danger, there is always a risk. But the Internet and its communication, which are strong stuctures of dissenting movements, are also pressure movements against fundamentalists attempts. I feel confident about youth.

Read the interview with Matthias Leridon on metrofrance.com