Gaddafi is Africa’s latest “Big Man” to fall

(Reuters) – Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi is just the latest name to be struck from the list of Africa’s so-called “Big Men”, the dwindling band of strongarm rulers who are finding it ever harder to keep their grip on power.

But while the death of Gaddafi was at least partly the result of outside intervention, it is domestic pressure from Africa’s increasingly demanding city-dwellers that is forcing the pace of wider political change on the continent.

Recent African elections, while in many cases either flawed or tilted towards the incumbent, have shown they can replace the coup d’etat as the preferred way of ousting leaders who have outstayed their welcome.

“It is the ballot box not the bullet that is effecting political change in Africa,” said Tara O’Connor of London-based Africa Risk Consulting.

“The pressure for this is local and sustained.”

Killed by NATO-backed fighters who overran his home town Sirte on Thursday , Gaddafi topped the list of Africa’s longest serving rulers with 42 years of autocratic and often bloody and eccentric power to his name.

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