Modalities of Policing Africa
Whether favorable to democratization or not, significant political changes undeniably occurred in African states after 1990, with most of the resulting regime transitions happening in the first four years of the decade. With the exception of Liberia and the Sudan, where there were no transitional movements, a number of political innovations occurred, and restrictions were often lifted even when there was no real reform or increased popular participation.
Whether the nature of power was also transformed is more controversial, for the democratization movement may yet prove to represent more of a developmental phase than a turning point. 1 Both change and continuity are evident, but political continuity will probably prove to be the dominant feature in the short term because coercion and compliance remain more important than acceptance and persuasion. Amnesty International's annual reports still refer to the (often systematic) use of torture, intimidation, and harassment by police acting on behalf of the regimes managing such developments.
That the police remain an important coercive resource, no matter how tainted their status, is evident from the cynicism with which they are generally regarded. Coercion is invariably directed at the population rather than at what most people regard as criminal behavior. The Mozambican interior minister's response to a provincial governor's complaints of police harassment was “Police are police. I have never seen police who acted like saints. ” 2 And regimes' use of their police in the late 1990s tends to be almost as heavy-handed as it was in earlier years.
Kenyan politics, for example, have been dominated since independence in 1963 by the Kenyan African National Union (KANU). President Daniel Arap Moi finally agreed in late 1991 to end Kenya's official oneparty state. His decision came shortly after Kenya's main donors applied