2such as Syria, Bahrain and Yemen is even in greater doubt. African leaders and even some of their opponents probably have little interest in replicating the situations in these countries.The fact that an election has taken place, often one in which there was little politicalspace available to the opposition, rarely results in a more democratic regime. There have also been too many cases in Africa over the last decade when an elected leader subject to term limitssubsequently manipulated the political system to eliminate term limits, thus ensuring more timein office. Transparent elections that provide a reasonably level playing field for a strong or atleast viable opposition are a realistic measure of democratic progress. Unfortunately, too manyelections in Africa have not met this test.
Let me turn now to the Horn of Africa. Although Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan and SouthSudan all have more or less regular national elections, the governments in all of these countriesoperate in an autocratic fashion with minimal, but varying, space for the political opposition.Eritrea is an autocratic government that does not hold national elections. Somalia, a failed state,is a special case. The only democratic government in the Horn is Somaliland. It is not part of this analysis nor does any government recognize Somaliland. Theoretically, therefore, all of thegovernments in the Horn except for Somaliland are candidates for the kind of protest that hasoccurred in North Africa and the Middle East. I believe that the leadership in all of the countriesof the Horn with the exception of Somalia, which is preoccupied by a civil war, was deeplyconcerned that the Arab Spring might have serious implications for their regimes.The Horn has important ties geographically, historically and culturally to the Arab world but with the exception of parts of northern Sudan and isolated pockets in several other Horncountries, the region is not Arab ethnically, culturally or in its way of thinking. Three of thecountries²Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia²are members of the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Conference. All of the countries in the Horn are predominantly Muslim or havesignificant Muslim minorities. Northern Sudan is heavily Muslim while the new South Sudanhas a Muslim minority. The government in Khartoum claims South Sudan has an 18 percentMuslim minority, although the percentage may be lower. Somalia and Djibouti areoverwhelmingly Muslim. Eritrea is about 50 percent Muslim and 50 percent Christian whileEthiopia is predominantly Christian but has at least a 35 percent Muslim minority.
Sudan is one of two countries in the Horn that actually experienced some protestsreflecting developments earlier this year in North Africa and the Middle East. On the face of it,Sudan would seem to be the most likely candidate for repeating Tunisian or Egyptian stylerevolutions. In fact, on two earlier occasions²1964 and 1985²just this kind of popular proteston the streets of Khartoum overturned the Sudanese government. One could argue that Sudanwas actually the precursor of the Arab Spring.