Legitimacy Crisis and ‘Popular Uprisings’ in North Africa

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  • September 2012

    The recent wind of ‘popular uprisings’ blowing across North Africa, most notably Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Libya, is monumental and unprecedented. Indeed, the world was taken aback by these uprisings. Despite notable contextual variations in the triggers and accelerators of the uprisings, which largely account for the divergent trajectories and outcomes, a common denominator seems to be the all-pervasive legitimacy crisis, or better still, the negative legitimacy, in these countries. A government can be said to be legitimate not only when it derives its authority and powers from the people, but when it is also accountable to them in all aspects, including the effective protection of lives and properties, respect for the rule of law, as well as the human security needs of the people. Only such governments are able to maintain and sustain their support base over time. Any government that falters on these basic requirements is likely going to rank low in terms of popular acceptability.