Author, Professor Discusses Civil-Military Relations, Democratic Governance in Africa

Diane Cano
U.S. AFRICOM Public Affairs

STUTTGART, Germany - Dr. Mathurin C. Houngnikpo, professor and academic chair of Civil-Military Relations at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, addressed the U.S. Africa Command staff on "Civil-Military Relations and Democratic Governance in Africa" April 27, 2011 on Kelley Barracks. Houngnikpo's address was part of the Commander's Speaker Series, an initiative to bring in speakers with diverse viewpoints to share ideas and thoughts with the command. (AFRICOM photo by Senior Master Sergeant Laura Dermarderosiansmith)
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U.S. AFRICOM Photo

STUTTGART, Germany, May 4, 2011 — Bridging the gap between the military and civilians in order to democratize Africa was the topic of discussion by Dr. Mathurin C. Houngnikpo, who spoke to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) headquarters staff April 27, 2011, on Kelley Barracks.

Houngnikpo, a professor and academic chair of Civil-Military Relations at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, addressed command staff on "Civil-Military Relations and Democratic Governance in Africa," as part of the Commander's Speaker Series, an initiative to bring speakers with diverse viewpoints to the command to share ideas and thoughts.

"Civil-militaryrelations is very close to my heart because of my time in the Army," he said, "I didn't like the military until I started doing research for my dissertation and when we had a national conference in Benin. That's when I realized how critical the military is to Africa and to African democracy. "

Houngnikpo, however, emphasized that although the military is an 'important ingredient" in the civil-military relations, there needs to be a national strategy that outlines and defines the role of the military in the democratic governance in Africa.

"Armies should not be the ones who are making a decision as to what needs to be done," he said, "but rather whatever the military is asked to do it should be coming from a decision that is made from the people.

"We need to have people that are democratically elected," he further explained. "That's why I use the term democratic control, meaning those who are elected, as opposed to those who are in power."

Those attending the speaker series listened as Houngnikpo discussed the concept of security and further elaborated on civil-military relations in Africa and the importance of democratic control.

Prior to ending his presentation, Houngnikpo suggested an important role U.S. AFRICOM can play in civil-military relations and democratic governance in Africa.

"So when you [AFRICOM] go out trying to professionalize, quote unquote, make sure you have a way of bringing up civil society so that the gap between civilians and military won't be too big."


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