More leaders in more African countries will abolish term limits unless organisations like the African Union take action.
Elections are easy to rig, and they give authoritarian leaders a veneer of legitimacy they badly need.
No one is immune to change in leadership that has led many African presidents to lose their coveted top job.
Too often developments in one country are seen in isolation. In southern Africa events in one affect others in the region.
The past 12 months provided further evidence of the danger of democratic backsliding in Africa. But it also saw powerful presidents suffer embarrassing setbacks in a number of countries.
Gambia became a symbol for democratic change earlier this year when former dictator Yahya Jammeh was peacefully ousted through the ballot box. Now Europe wants its Gambian immigrants to return home.
Until African political systems become less majoritarian and do a better job of protecting the rights of minorities, the true benefits of a democratic government are unlikely to be realised.
West African leaders have nursed the idea of a common currency for the sub-region since the turn of the century. But conditions for member countries to make this happen appear unattainable.
The African pushback is as a result of the ICC's own Africa strategy.
West African health systems were weak before the IMF got involved. Sadly, the policy reforms demanded by the IMF in exchange for loans have undermined governments' ability to repair these problems.
The adoption of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance five years ago raised hopes for a new democratic Africa. But its ideals remain elusive for many parts of the continent.
The end of Yahya Jammeh should be celebrated, but his democratic neighbours had the strongest of hands to play.
Attempts to deepen democracy in Africa by limiting presidential terms to two have not entirely quashed a culture of entitlement to rule. Glimpses of it persist, much against citizens' wishes.
Although Ecowas and the AU made sure that Yahya Jammeh stepped down after losing the elections in The Gambia, caution is warranted in assuming this heralds a trend against African dictatorships.
SADC's credibility is at stake. Its lack of political will in acting decisively against despots is at odds with the African Union's goal of promoting legitimate governance on the continent.
Military intervention is sanctioned and executed by states. It is thus always a function of state interests rather than the objective enforcement of law. The case of The Gambia is no different.
Yahya Jammeh will certainly be removed if West Africa decides to use force. But that will come at a heavy price for The Gambia, the neighbouring states and the world as a whole
The Gambian election dispute is not the first that ECOWAS has confronted. Côte d’Ivoire’s 2010 presidential election is a case in point. There it resorted to military action to enforce the outcome.
There is a real sense of optimism in The Gambia: for the first time since Yahya Jammeh came to power, there has been open dissent of the regime and a feeling of ownership of the country’s future.
A peaceful transition in the Gambia, taken together with hints of change in Angola and Zimbabwe, will portend hope that Africa’s democratic renewal is still alive.