As a student of history i keenly follow the African continent political affairs, What disturbs my mind is what is the essence of having a continental body like African Union (AU) when we still have leaders who think that African leaders DO NOT LOOSE AN ELECTION.
The African Union was envisioned as a body that would promote an integrated and peaceful Africa, But since its inception The African Union (AU) success cannot even be counted on the fingers of one hand. It is struggling to resolve the multiple crises facing the continent.
While in many parts of the world, political stability and democracy is a big factor for societal development, the African continent is still bogged down by poverty, impunity, civil wars caused by leaders who refuse to vacate power leading to unnecessary ethnic violence and human rights violations against citizens.
The AU has looked increasingly powerless and helpless while genocides are being committed against the people on the continent by despotic regimes. Millions of women and young girls have been murdered, raped and tortured to death while the perpetrators and their associates meet year after year in Addis Ababa Ethiopia at the expense of the citizens supposedly to represent them at AU meetings.
This week in Gambia President Yahya Jammehs has undermined the voice of the people and refused to concede defeat after an election that saw Adoma Barrow elected as president.
Last year US President Barack Obama while addressing the African Union Conference in Addis Ababa, condemned African leaders who refuse to give up power by saying that “Africa’s democratic progress is also at risk when leaders refuse to step aside when their terms end,”
Former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan, among others have also expressed similar sentiments in the past. If a leader doesn’t want to leave office, if a leader stays on for too long, and elections are seen as being gamed to suit a leader and he stays term, after term, the tendency may be the only way to get him out is through a coup or people taking to the streets,
We now have a recipe for another coup d’état in Gambia, The AU is tight lipped on the matter a clear repetition to what happened in Bujumbura, Burundians slaughtered themselves after Pierre Nkurunziza insisted on staying onto power, the continent waited for reaction from the AU that never came.
Let me underline the fact that the AU has not made sparks, In 2014 Malabo protocol gave African governments thumbs up to withdraw from the ICC without a proper justice system in Africa to prosecute people for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide as the justice systems are undermined by the same leaders that lead these countries.
With such blanket protection from the AU, African Leaders take advantage knowing nothing can happen to them. Even civil wars erupt as a result of their actions. It should not be forgotten that Gambia has already said it will pull of the International Criminal Court (ICC) after accusing the tribunal of persecuting and humiliating African leaders.
This laxity shown by the AU takes Africa a step behind on democracy issues, African leaders take advantage to cling on the seats of authority even when it is clear their popularity among their citizens has dwindled like what happened in Burundi and now Gambia.
The AU remains a barking dog that cant bite as seen during the civil war in Liberia, had it not been the strength of the United States the war would not have ended in 2003 , The AU showed the same weakness in Sierra Leone. where the former colonial power Britain had to step in to permanently disarm Revolutionary United Front army.
If it is true that free and fair elections is an ingredient of real democracy, then I have to say that Africa’s democratic progress is laid on a fragile foundation, and it is at risk when African leaders refuse to step aside when they lose elections and the African Unions voice is never heard when it so happens.