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Freedom in Africa 2009


Table of African Countries*
Comparative Measures of Freedom
(Countries highlighted in yellow are designated as "Electoral Democracies" by Freedom House)
 up or down indicates a change in Political Rights, Civil Liberties, or Status since the last survey. In the Table, click on the number preceding the arrow for an explanation of the rating and/or status change in the selected country. A rating of 1 represents the most free and 7 the least free rating.
 Trend Arrows indicate general positive or negative trends since the previous survey that are not necessarily reflected in the raw points and do not warrant a ratings change.
Trend Country Political Rights Civil Liberties Status
Angola 6 5 Not Free
Benin 2 2 Free
Botswana 2 2 Free
Burkina Faso 5 3 Partly Free
Burundi 4 5 Partly Free
Cameroon 6 6 Not Free
Cape Verde 1 1 Free
Central African Rep. 5 5 Partly Free
Chad 7 6 Not Free
Comoros 3 4 Partly Free
Congo-Brazzaville 6 5 Not Free
Congo-Kinshasa 6 6 Not Free
Côte d'Ivoire 6 5 Not Free
Djibouti 5 5 Partly Free
Equatorial Guinea 7 7 Not Free
Eritrea 7 6 Not Free
Ethiopia 5 5 Partly Free
Gabon 6 4 Partly Free
The Gambia 5 4 Partly Free
Ghana 1 2 Free
Guinea 7 5 Not Free
Guinea-Bissau 4 4 Partly Free
Kenya 4 3 Partly Free
Lesotho 2 3 Free
Liberia 3 4 Partly Free
Madagascar 4 3 Partly Free
Malawi 4 4 Partly Free
Mali 2 3 Free
Mauritania 6 5 Not Free
Mauritius 1 2 Free
Mozambique 3 3 Partly Free
Namibia 2 2 Free
Niger 3 4 Partly Free
Nigeria 5 4 Partly Free
Rwanda 6 5 Not Free
São Tomé & Príncipe 2 2 Free
Senegal 3 3 Partly Free
Seychelles 3 3 Partly Free
Sierra Leone 3 3 Partly Free
Somalia 7 7 Not Free
Somaliland 5 4 Partly Free
South Africa 2 2 Free
Sudan 7 7 Not Free
Swaziland 7 5 Not Free
Tanzania 4 3 Partly Free
Togo 5 5 Partly Free
Uganda 5 4 Partly Free
Zambia 3 3 Partly Free
Zimbabwe 7 6 Not Free
*The ratings in this table reflect global events from 1 January 2008 through 31 December 2008.
Criteria for designation as an Electoral Democracy
1. A competitive, multiparty political system.
2. Universal adult suffrage for all citizens (with exceptions for restrictions that states may legitimately place on citizens as sanctions for criminal offenses).
3. Regularly contested elections conducted in conditions of ballot secrecy, reasonable ballot security, and the absence of massive voter fraud that yields results that are unrepresentative of the public will.
4. Significant public access of major political parties to the electorate through the media and through generally open political campaigning.
Status and Ratings Changes, Trend Arrow Explanations
Angola received an upward trend arrow due to the holding of long-delayed legislative elections that were considered to be credible despite some irregularities.
Burundi received a downward trend arrow due to the lack of progress on the establishment of an independent electoral commission as well as the authorities’ crackdown on opposition political activity.
Cameroon received a downward trend arrow due to the authorities' imposition of additional restrictions on the political opposition and President Paul Biya’s increasing centralization of power.
The Comoros' political rights rating improved from 4 to 3 due to the restoration of legitimate government to Anjouan, one of the country's constituent islands.
Congo-Kinshasa's political rights rating declined from 5 to 6 due to President Joseph Kabila's increasing repression of the political opposition, including the excessive use of violence by authorities against the political-religious group Bundu Dia Kongo.
Cote d’Ivoire's political rights rating improved from 7 to 6 due to progress in the distribution of identity cards and voter registration, particularly among religious and ethnic minorities, in advance of the upcoming presidential election.
Equatorial Guinea's civil liberties rating declined from 6 to 7 due to an intensification of the environment of fear stemming from the widespread use of torture, as well as the denial of visas to foreign journalists seeking to cover the May legislative and municipal elections.
Gabon received a downward trend arrow due to the authorities' crackdown on nongovernmental organizations and the harassment of civil society leaders.
The Gambia received a downward trend arrow due to increased corruption, the government's harsh responses to criticism, and President Yahya Jammeh's threats against homosexuals.
Guinea's political rights rating declined from 6 to 7 due to a military coup in December and mounting concerns that international drug cartels were gaining influence within the government and military.
Mauritania's political rights rating declined from 4 to 6, its civil liberties rating declined from 4 to 5, and its status declined from Partly Free to Not Free due to the military's ouster of the democratically elected president, the arrest of top civilian officials, and the imposition of restrictions on assembly and the media.
Namibia received a downward trend arrow due to the ruling party's harassment and intimidation of a new opposition party, including the disruption of the group's meetings and rallies.
Nigeria's political rights rating declined from 4 to 5 due to the ruling party's increasing consolidation of power and marginalization of the opposition, as evidenced by the Supreme Court's rejection in December of opposition challenges to the results of the deeply flawed 2007 presidential election.
Senegal's political rights rating declined from 2 to 3 and its status declined from Free to Partly Free due to the growing authoritarian power of the president and ruling party as well as the increasing marginalization of the opposition, exemplified by the postponement of municipal elections and the arbitrary reduction of the National Assembly president's term.
Somaliland's political rights rating declined from 4 to 5 due to the upper legislative house's extension of President Dahir Riyale Kahin's term in office and the subsequent postponement of the presidential election until 2009.
Zambia's civil liberties rating improved from 4 to 3 due to continuing improvements in judicial independence, including increased assertiveness by the courts vis-à-vis the government and the government's appointment of highly qualified individuals to judicial posts.
Zimbabwe received a downward trend arrow due to the heavy involvement of security forces and government-aligned militias in a campaign of political violence, as well as the government's crackdown on independent Anglican churches.

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