As the civic pot boils in North Africa and the Middle East, it is time to consider the ingredients for future success in these troubled hot spots.
While it is an article of faith among many African elites that democracy in Africa cannot be a mere replica of the democratic system in the West, (meaning Europe and North America), it seems clear that ordinary Africans seem to want the same protections and opportunities offered by these settled, if flawed (each in its own way) democracies.
The make-up of the democratic system is not as important to people as what the system must deliver to them; guaranteed freedom in every respect. To the chagrin of the ruling elites this mostly means the same thing to Africans as it means to Europeans and Americans, namely that freedom is indivisible and encompassess basic personal freedoms like movement, association, religion, speech, economic activity and a free press, to name a few. Freedom breaks the hold that powerful elites have on ordinary individuals.
Only a constitutional democracy satisfies all the requirements for establishing lasting freedoms. Can a country like Libya end up free? Yes, if it becomes a proper constitutional democracy.
Perhaps it is time to convene the best constitution writing scholars, legal experts and politicians in the world today, to help these societies in transition? Who knows, they may even help Libya to become a constitutional democracy, eventually.