Democracy is the answer, says the UN

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Indy Politics

African poverty and stagnation has been described as the greatest tragedy of our time. But it is a shifting story and its causes have shifted significantly in the past two decades. Many of the conflicts that blighted the 1980s have ended or are drawing to a close.

African poverty and stagnation has been described as the greatest tragedy of our time. But it is a shifting story and its causes have shifted significantly in the past two decades. Many of the conflicts that blighted the 1980s have ended or are drawing to a close.

With the exception of the Darfur region of western Sudan, the landscape of war in Africa has improved. From Congo to Uganda and Burundi rebels are abandoning armed struggle in favour of settlement.

The real challenges now are poverty and disease. The spectre of tens of millions dying in biblical famines in the horn of Africa has eased but millions more are at risk in the more fertile south.

Drought, Aids and preventable disease are putting more than 38 million at risk of starvation. In southern Africa, 16.41 million are in need of emergency food aid. In Zimbabwe, five million face death from a combination of hunger and Aids.

Short-term famine relief is not the only priority and political reform is heralded as the only way to achieve stability and the long awaited economic growth.

Democracy, the United Nations says, is the only political regime that guarantees political and civil freedoms and the right to participate - making democratic rule a good in itself.

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