In the 1980s and 1990s Africa1 experienced something it had not seen for decades: widespread popular calls for democratization, part of a wider package of demands for more and better economic and human rights. There followed regime change in a number of African countries, including Benin, Cape Verde, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Niger, Sao Tome, Sierra Leone and Zambia. Elsewhere, however, authoritarian rulers demonstrated ability, at least temporarily, to stay put either by winning elections (Ghana, Burkina Faso) or by simply refusing to budge (Togo, Kenya, Zaire). Demands for democratization had both domestic and external roots. Domestically, demands for reform reflected an awakening – or reawakening – of an often long-dormant political voice for various civil society groups, with trade-union officials, higher-education students, business people, civil servants and religious – mostly Christian – figures initially leading and coordinating popular demands for reform (Bratton and van der Walle 1997). Professional politicians later made such demands integral parts of their programmes for election. The widespread expectation was that popular efforts would force long-entrenched, often venal governments from office. Democratically elected regimes would take power, with new leaders tackling with energy, resourcefulness and imagination pressing political, social and economic problems. Previously ignored political constituencies would be heard, human rights would be observed, including the precious freedom to criticize governments without fear of incarceration. A second factor was that Africa’s democratization was the ‘road map’ for political change preferred by key external actors: Western governments who provided Africa with the bulk of its foreign aid. In sum, recent demands for democratization in Africa are best explained through the interaction of domestic and international factors, with the former of most importance.