The pace and spread of political change in Africa since 1989 have been breathtaking. During 1991, political freedom and civil liberties deteriorated in the Arab North African states of Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, and by mid-1992 there had also been a reversion to harsh dictatorship in Algeria. Africa's "second liberation" may be traced to two crucial events that took place in February 1990: a national conference in Benin, turning into a civilian coup, that stripped President Mathieu Kerekou of effective power, established a transitional government and prepared the way for multi-party elections; and the release of Nelson Mandela from almost three decades of imprisonment and the "unbanning" of the African National Congress by the white minority government in South Africa. The changes in South Africa may have had almost as great an effect as those in Eastern Europe. With the collapse of the Communist model, the main ideological rival to political and economic liberalism disappeared from the African scene.