Third Eye

Sad that Africa is returning to coups, brutal era

Monday, September 13th, 2021 00:00 |
Policemen beef up security during clashes in Wanindara, Conakry, capital of Guinea. (Xinhua/Eddy Peters)

Like a junkie receding back into addiction, Africa is in full blown recidivism from its nascent experiment with democracy and human rights.

The backsliding to military coups and political violence is shocking. 

The latest military takeover was in Guinea, where 83-year-old Alpha Conde was overthrown by a military junta led by Lt-Col Mamady Doumbouya.

Conde was the first democratically elected leader of Guinea after the army stepped down from power in 2010.

In 2020, he changed the constitution to allow himself run for a third term. This led to months of protest that he brutally suppressed. He won the elections.

In May 2021, the Malian army, led by Vice President of the ruling transitional government, Col Assimi Goita, captured the civilian president Bah N’daw and took over the government.

Barely nine months earlier, the army had staged another coup, which came after months of protests following parliamentary elections in the country in March 2020.

In April 2021, Chadian president, Idriss Deby Itno, died after winning a sixth term in office. He had ruled Chad for three decades.

His allies grabbed power and swore in his 37-year old son, Mahammat Idriss Deby, to take over. By law, the Speaker of Parliament should have assumed power.

Chad is in the throes of a civil war, where rebels have been fighting the government for years. 

In Gambia, President Adama Barrow plans to run for office in the December elections against his pledge to rule for a transitional period of three years.

He was sworn in after defeating Yahya Jammeh, who had ruled for 22 years. Jammeh had refused to concede and was forced out by regional forces.

Protests broke out in the capital Banjui in December 2019, after Barrow refused to step down.

He brutally suppressed the protests. And in a shocking betrayal, Barrow has now joined forces with Jammeh to contest the elections.

He has promised Jammeh a safe return home and back pay. The outrage in The Gambia is beyond limits. 

Elsewhere, rampant insecurity has pushed countries to the brink of failed States. Since November 2020, Ethiopia has been in a protracted conflict pitting the government of Prime Minister Abiy Mohammed against its own people.

It started when government forces invaded Tigray, an incursion that rapidly came unstuck, and government forces forced to retreat from Tigray.

Worse, the Oromo Liberation  Front, vowed in May to wage “total war” against Abiy’s regime. Oromo is the country’s most populous region. Anyone can see where all this is headed.

In Nigeria, an alarming wave of chaos has caused a virtual collapse of the security system.

From attacks by jihadist groups, to mass killings in rural towns, Nigeria is in the grip of unprecedented insecurity.

Abductions are the order of the day. Hundreds have been killed in the recent times and hundreds more abducted for ransom and killed when those demands were not met.

What is going on? There are several triggers: First is botched elections. Many civil unrest are against polls people felt were illegitimate.

The second trigger is the change of constitutional limits by incumbents to extend their terms. This is becoming costly.

The African Union and the international community routinely ignore the triggers. Then, predictably, violence breaks out.

By then, intervention is too late. AU and the international community let Mali and Guinea brutalise people for months during protests against botched polls.

This vacuum and violent environment provides the perfect environment for the military to step in. 

The international community must get back to the drawing board and think of how to intervene to save the situations obtaining.

Otherwise, Africa is going back to the 60s and 70s era of coups and political instability. [email protected]

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