Analysis by Rodney Reynolds

ISTANBUL (IDN) - The first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proposed as far back as 2012, failed to meet its lofty expectations despite four years of consultations with 23,000 people in over 150 countries.

“This is a 21st century United Nations gathering,” Ban boasted to delegates in his opening remarks. But the two-day summit, which concluded May 24, did not generate any significant funding nor did it receive the whole-hearted political support of the UN’s Big Five – the UK, U.S., France, China and Russia – whose leaders were conspicuous by their absence.

Besides UK, U.S. and France, even the remaining G-7 leaders were missing in action: heads of government from Canada, Italy and Japan shied away from the summit. Only German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Istanbul to represent the world’s seven industrialized democracies.

- Photo: 2020

A ‘Wind Of Change’ Could Block African Leaders Seeking ‘Presidency For Life’

By Lisa vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK (IDN)  As British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan once said it, there’s a “wind of change” blowing through the African continent. “Whether we like it or not,” he said, “this growth of national consciousness is a political fact.”

That was the ‘60s, as countries across the continent were lowering the British flag and raising their national one.

“I can still remember watching that flag,” recalled Francesca Emmanuel, a former federal permanent secretary in the new Netflix documentary Journey of a New Colony. “It was the British flag I was watching coming down, coming down, and the Nigerian flag, going up, going up.”

“It was beautiful,” she sighed. “At last, our great day has arrived… That feeling, it’s something you can’t describe.”

But 40 years later, the promises of independence are being challenged by postcolonial leaders unwilling to abide by their constitution when it’s time to step down. Rising impatience by young people to again “raise that flag” has sparked riots in the streets of Ivory Coast, Guinea, Cameroon and over a dozen other countries.

In Guinea, incumbent Alpha Condé, age 82, ordered a crackdown on protests to his bid for a controversial third term. It resulted in the deaths of at least 50 in less than a year with “defense and security forces responsible for unlawful killings,” says Amnesty International. Voting took place this past Sunday.

Similarly in the Ivory Coast, protesters in the thousands filled the streets of the capital, Abidjan, when President Alassane Ouattara, in an about-face, announced he would seek a third term in office. Five months ago, the 78-year-old Ouattara had pledged to “transfer power to a new generation”. Voting is scheduled for Oct. 28.

“We need to adhere to the constitutional provisions of our countries, particularly on term limits,” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari told his counterparts at a meeting last month. “This is one area that generates crisis and political tension in our subregion.”

“The reluctance to giving up power is a growing trend across the continent,” writes Congolese freelancer Vava Tampa, “causing joblessness, conflict, corruption, economic decline, and human rights abuses. Even Paul Kagame, the West’s standard-bearer for ‘good African leadership’, changed the constitution to cling to power. In fact, according to the Economist’s 2019 Democracy Index, more than half of Africa’s 55 countries are ruled by a ‘life president’ or – in the words of the report’s authors – ‘authoritarian regimes’.”

Other contested elections in the coming months include Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Uganda and the Central African Republic. Will a growing people’s movement again be a ‘wind of change’? [IDN-InDepthNews – 19 October 2020]

Photo: 82-year-old Alpha Condé, President of Guinea, with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017.

IDN is flagship agency of the non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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