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Cabo Verde deemed ‘freest’ country in Africa by US political advocacy group

From first place to the bottom five, Africa’s Portuguese-speaking countries ran the gamut in this year’s report by Washington-funded Freedom House.

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Cabo Verde tops the list as the most “free” country in Africa, according to US researchers in the latest edition of Freedom of the World. The annual report on political rights and civil liberties is put out by Washington DC-based non-profit Freedom House, which is primarily funded by the US State Department.

The report found that the Portuguese-speaking archipelago had a “stable democracy with competitive elections and periodic transfers of power between rival parties” and that civil liberties are “generally protected.” São Tomé and Príncipe also ranked highly among African nations, coming in third after Mauritius, thanks to its “regular, competitive elections” and “multiple transfers of power between rival parties.” However, São Tomé lost points over poverty, corruption and what researchers saw as a growing threat to judicial independence.

Other Portuguese-speaking African nations fared worse, with Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique classified by the US report as “partially free,” while Angola and Equatorial Guinea were deemed “not free.” Of the six, only Mozambique saw any improvement in its score from 2022.

[See more: Portugal must assume responsibility for colonial wrongdoing, its president says]

Freedom House promotes an American view of the political rights and civil liberties of 195 countries and 15 territories in its annual report. Political rights are organised into 10 categories, civil liberties into 15, with each having a maximum score of four. Cabo Verde scored 92 this year while Equatorial Guinea scored five.

While the scoring appears to be scientific, Freedom House rankings have been frequently criticised for being subjective and the scores are frequently disputed.

According to Sarah Bush, a political scientist at Temple University in Philadelphia, “Countries aligned with U.S. foreign policy tend to receive better scores in Freedom House” than in other indices, because the rankings “reflect the ideology of a powerful state.”

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