On the whole, political and social stabilisation has been generally progressing on the continent, while higher political awareness among the population has obliged governments to become more accountable, as witnessed by the organisation of regular electoral consultations and the implementation of structural reforms in public administration, which have improved governance and increased transparency. However, the administrative capacity of government remains weak, impeding the consolidation of democratic institutions (especially in fragile states); the judicial system still receives little political priority. Gaps in the implementation of regulations are common and, as a result, application of the rule of law remains tenuous.
As noted in AEO 2007/08, violence during ordinary demonstrations of democratic dissent, like strikes or demonstrations remains a characteristic of political life in some countries and continued during 2008. Since the end of 2007, when rising living costs triggered a series of disturbances, political economy considerations have acquired increasing relevance and the authorities have had to strike a careful balance between the need to take some measures to control unrest and the need to avoid a shift to authoritarianism which would limit civil rights, including freedom of the press. With some exceptions, the stance taken by governments faced with these problems turned out to be constructive. The challenge will be to continue on this track, against a background of decreasing public resources, and uncertain donor support.