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A new generation of African leaders is emerging.

The continents newly empowered voters are youthful, increasingly urbanised and technologically savvy. Increasingly, they reject ailing presidents attempts to curb democratic progress or to lever their offspring into power

Africas leadership transformation

by Ed Hobey and Trent Baldacchino in Dakar

It is now regular practice for constitutions to be consulted and their provisions followed when determining successions. As this trend continues, political change will increase stability and predictability, and the cycles of upheaval associated with the end of a term such as in Zimbabwe will abate

On July 24, President John Atta Mills passed away. The uncontested swearing in of Vice-President John Dramani Mahama indicated good governance and stability, despite the ruling National Democratic Congress party being riven with internal faction ghting. The opposition New Patriotic Party praised the swift transition and both parties accepted a decision to suspend campaigning for Decembers presidential election.

Tunisia, Egypt, Libya

In North Africa, the popular uprisings against living in countries with presidential cronies controlling economies and major democratic decits led to the violence that deposed Tunisias Zine Ben Ali, Egypts Hosni Mubarak and Libyas Muammar Gadda. President Mohamed Morsis narrow poll victory in Egypt has led to a cautiously appointed Cabinet, and careful domestic and regional diplomacy.

The Cabinet tried to keep Bingu wa Mutharikas death in April 2012 a secret, hoping to install his brother, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mutharika, into office. The judiciary warned Cabinet their actions would be unconstitutional and the defence force said they would not support an illegitimate government. President Joyce Banda took office and used constitutional methods to strengthen her position, and formed an inclusive government that also represents opposition parties. Zine Ben Ali Hosni Mubarak Muammar Gadda

Equatorial Guinea
On April 11, a French public prosecutor authorised a request from two French judges to issue an international arrest warrant on charges of corruption against Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue Teodorn, son and expected successor to Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Teodorin is also the subject of corruption investigations in both the US and Spain.

As the presidential succession heats up, Abdelaziz Bouteika (1999-present) is thought likely to try to advance the candidacy of his younger brother, Said Bouteika if, as expected, he steps down in 2014. But his brother has no popular support within society or among the ruling Front de Libration Nationale. Algeria needs to learn something from the Senegalese experience.

Former president Abdoulaye Wades attempts to win an unconstitutional third term and impose his unpopular son, Karim Wade, as successor provoked an immediate backlash from Senegals voters, whose street protests in Dakar turned to riots. It ended in a convincing electoral victory for President Macky Sall in the March 25 runoff election, prompting days of celebration in Dakar. In Julys legislative elections, Sall won a parliamentary majority. Abdoulaye Wade phoned Sall to congratulate him on his victory.

A military coup in Mali deposed former president Amadou Toumani Tour in March 2012. The junior officer coup harked back to the early 1990s when repeated military interventions plagued politics in West Africa. Regional reaction was immediate though, prompting coup leaders to promise elections would soon follow. There was a sense this violence was out of step with modern politics in the region.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who was not seen in public since June, died in hospital abroad. He played a key role in brokering peace efforts between newly independent South Sudan and Sudan. Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn will take on an acting role. There are concerns of rising tensions between the ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Fronts young modernisers and the old guard, although the party had already announced the entire senior leadership will be replaced by 2015.

South Africa
The ANCs established top-down leadership approach has clashed with the populist elected grass-roots approach the ANC Youth League espouses. Ongoing politicking has undermined President Jacob Zumas attempts to determine the critical economic tenets of his bid for a second term. Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthes faction, supported by the youth league, has opposed Zumas new policy agenda. The partys elective conference in Mangaung in December will settle the direction the ANC and the country nally takes.

Impact on business
In the past, businesspeople assumed that access to a member of an autocratic leaders family or a member of the political elite would equal lucrative deals. However, business now gained through patronage may be politically exposed New leadership routinely investigates the business . dealings of the outgoing government, and anti-corruption and pro-democracy groups name and shame foreign companies. A new government might cancel or renegotiate the terms of business contracts. Business will need to take care to avoid doing business with politically exposed people, giving credence to new institutions and new formal business channels.