By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK. 5 September 2023 (IDN) — African leaders holding office for 20, 30 or 40 years after questionable elections are battening down the hatches as their grip on power and consumption of the nation’s riches seems unlikely to go unchallenged for long.
This so-called “resurgence of coups” has received little critical analysis, but on the contrary has been met with an onslaught of single-minded condemnation by the African Union and the international community.
Little mention is made, if any, of the conduct of the Gabonese election which took place under cover of darkness following days of internet shutdown, a curfew and border closures.
Images of Gabonese citizens have now been seen exuberantly rejecting a stolen election, manipulated with the complicity of officials beholden to Bongo’s family and with vigorous finger-wagging and even threats of military attack by “respected” African institutions.
It was the third coup attempt in Gabon’s history and the first to succeed.
Evidence suggests that the kingmakers in the African Union paid little attention to the underlying causes of these events , except to pathologize these popular uprisings, notes Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, professor at the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Massachusetts and currently chair of the Truth, Justice and Peace Commission on south-east Nigeria.
Odinkalu cites three assumptions that underlie the mischaracterization of the so-called epidemic.
The first is that all military takeovers are the same. As an example, he offers the ousting of Sudan’s dictator, Omar al-Bashir in April 2019, following a popular uprising that made the country ungovernable under his rule. The military exploited the resulting political vacuum to seize power.
The second is that coups are only executed by the military. He offers the term-limited former president of Guinea, Alpha Conde, who needed a civilian coup to turn him into president for life.
In 2020 he organized a violent referendum in which scores were killed with the pre-determined outcome of changing the constitution in order to succeed himself.
The international community watched much of this in complicit silence only to find its voice after the military overthrew Conde in September 2021.
The third assumption, cited by Odinkalu, is that every civilian government overthrown by the military is both legitimate and a democracy. Gabon illustrates how this attitude brings democracy into disrepute.
The international response that forces citizens of African countries to choose between categories of dangerous political kidnappers is what really needs to change, Odinkalu concludes. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Image extracted from a video broadcast on the Gabon 24 television shows General Brice Oligui Nguema being carried in triumph by men of the Republican Guard, in Libreville, on 30 August 2023. – / AFP
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