Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

African Liberal Network

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 13th November, 2010

When Liberal International was established, over 60 years ago (in Oxford), it was a very European affair. Apart from a few exceptions, such as the Canadian Liberal Party and some of the predecessor parties of what is now the Democratic Alliance (DA) in South Africa, Liberalism held little sway or even appeal in the Americas and the developing world (not to mention the Soviet bloc). That was particularly true in Africa, where dictatorships or socialist regimes (sometimes the same thing) were the order of the day. But just as Liberalism has spread through Latin America, parts of Asia and the Arab world over the past few decades, so too in Africa Liberal parties are now championing the values of freedom of expression, democracy and human rights. Some of them are still very small — such as Angola’s Partido Liberal Democratico (PLD), with whose leader, the late Analia Maria Caldeira de Victoria Pereira, I campaigned a few years ago — while others are now in government, such as the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), whose octogenarian leader, Abdoulaye Wade, has been in power for some time now. Each year, new parties emerge and many are joining the African Liberal Network (ALN), as well as Liberal International. The fact that LI has held Congresses in both Marrakesh and Cairo has certainly helped this development, as has the LI Executive Meeting and concurrent ALN gathering being held in Cape Town now (hosted by the Premier of the Western Cape, the DA’s leader Helen Zille). The headquarters of both Liberal International and the ALN are in London, the former in the National Liberal Club and the latter in the Liberal Democrats’ HQ in Cowley Street, and the ALN gets assistance from the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, as part of that UK government-funded efforts to help promote human rights and the rule of law worldwide.



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