The pandemic in Africa is not just a crisis of public health or the economy, It’s a political one, too.

Writing in The Economist, former senior UN official Alan Doss and founder of Celtel Mo Ibrahim argue that the pandemic threatens the democratic progress made in Africa in recent years.

“Hard times often make people especially vulnerable to the siren song of populists and extremists trading on communal enmities,” they write.

At least 18 African countries are expected to hold national elections this year. But unless proper laws are in place, suspending elections amid the pandemic could erode democracy.

To prevent this from happening, Mr Doss and Mr Ibrahim explain, there are several steps African governments and the public can take