South African President Thabo Mbeki has warned that Africa could face a similar fate to Iraq if it is seen to be acting against democratic principles.
Mbeki says Africa will be punished if it gets out of line
He said that the United States and Britain have maintained that they are waging war on Iraq because it is undemocratic and has not sufficiently accounted for weapons of mass destruction.
But this stance should make Africa "uneasy", he told delegates at a conference on African democracy in Pretoria.
If the UN does not matter why should we, the little countries of Africa that make up the African Union, think that we matter and will not be punished if we get out of line?
South Africa President, Thabo Mbeki
"The prospect facing the people of Iraq should serve as sufficient warning that in future we too might have others descend on us, guns in hand to force-feed us," with their democracy, he said.
He however asked participants to take a look at how democracy worked and how it should be applied on the continent.
But he insisted that democracy had to be home grown and practised within a country's social context and not imported from abroad.
Jollof Rice democracy
"Presumably the argument is that whether a person ingests jollof rice (a west African dish) voluntarily or does so because he or she is force-fed, the fact remains that they have eaten jollof rice."
"I am not certain that the institution of a democratic system can be approached in the same way that we approach the consumption of jollof rice," the South African leader said.
President Mbeki's supportive stance towards President Robert Mugabe in neighbouring Zimbabwe, has not gone down well with the West.
He and his country have also been a prominent opponent of attacks on Iraq.
He had expressed regrets at the start of hostilities on 20 March saying he would have preferred the matter to be dealt with by the United Nations.
"If the UN does not matter why should we, the little countries of Africa that make up the African Union, think that we matter and will not be punished if we get out of line?", Mr Mbeki asked the conference on Monday.
Ex-president Nelson Mandela, had also strongly and publicly attacked US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair for their stance towards Iraq.