Africa has recently been treated to a mixture of heartbreaking and pacifying events. To begin with, Mali’s military junta staged a coup and overthrew President Amadou Toumani Touré in a country that was considered one of West Africa's bright prospects for excellent governance. Mali’s democratic maturity was to be demonstrated by its leader quitting power later this year. That the coup took place when the African Union was in the country addressing Peace and Security concerns is not only ironic but also shameful to the entire continent.
The undercurrents that trigger coups must be addressed. In Mali’s case, alleged controversial promotions of officers from Touré's generation; perceived corruption; unprecedented profiteering by the military and civilian elites close to the presidency; proliferation of transfers to northern Mali of Western hostages abducted in neighboring countries and, more recently, the bloody incursions of armed Tuaregs fed the discontent. Coups have no place in modern Africa – it is important that those who get the privilege to be leaders in Africa recognize that they are servants and not lords over the people.
On a brighter note, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal ought to be lauded for conceding defeat to Macky Sall in a hotly contested election run-off. Wade not only redeemed his reputation that had taken a nosedive when he revised the constitution to favor his expired candidature, but also re-established the country’s image as a bastion of democracy. It is important for leaders in East Africa to take note of events in West Africa. Even as oil discovery news grabs headlines – the citizenry will not entertain prolonging of presidential terms simply because natural resources have been spotted!
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