 Orders Them To Quit Power After Mandates

 Says Africans Are Panaceas To Own Problems

 Admits Budgetary Concern Is Stifling Continent Progress

By Isidore Abah with additional field information cartoon 1720

The erstwhile Secretary General, SG, of the United Nations, UN, Kofi Annan, has exhorted sit tight leaders in Africa to quit the political stage after the expiration of their mandates.
The former UN Scribe is irritably bemused that African leaders like Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Cameroon’s Paul Biya, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Sudan’s Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Idriss Déby of Chad, among others, are still clinging to power.

According to Annan, if African leaders respect the terms of their mandate and incorporate dissenting voices in the decision making process of their respective countries, then elections would cease to be a contributing factor to conflicts on the continent.

The celebrated Diplomat maintained that, while most African countries have leaped away from unconstitutional changes to Government in recent time, this great stride is threatened by the phenomenon of exclusionary politics.

“I think Africa has done well, by and large, the coups have more or less ended, Generals are remaining in their barracks, but we are creating situations which may bring them back,” the Nobel laureate said in an interview at the 5th Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa.

“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 to get him out may be the only way through a coup or people taking to the streets.

“Neither approach can be seen as an alternative to democracy, to elections or to parliamentary rule. Constitutions and the rules of the game have to be respected.”
Annan, who was a keynote speaker at the security forum this year, asserted that the winner-take-all approaches to elections on the Continent had the effect of leaving out citizens for holding an opposing view, raising tensions around elections.

The former UN Scribe said he was the first to recommend to the African Union not to accept coup leaders in the Union during the 2001 OAU Heads of State Summit in Lusaka.

To the Ghanaian born Diplomat, the panacea to the problems of the Continent must come from within.
“We cannot always pass a hat around and insist we want to be sovereign, we want to be independent. We should lead and get others to support us. That support will be much more forthcoming when they see how serious and committed we are.”

AU And Budgetary Concerns

The African Union has struggled to get members to pay their dues to allow it run its operations and programmes efficiently, a recurrent theme addressed by leaders at the forum in the Ethiopian city of Bahir Dar.

Such budgetary concerns, Annan said, were constraining the work of the continent in strengthening stability and required creative ways of resourcing.

“I was happy to hear African leaders say ‘we must be prepared to pay for what we want; we must be prepared to put out our own money on the table and fund issues that are of great importance to us.”
Leaders and experts at the forum also noted that the continent was not isolated.

“As Africa faces increasing security challenges, so does the rest of the world. The continent is well placed to provide innovative solutions to these security challenges,” Obasanjo said.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Togo’s Faure Gnassingbe, Somalia’s Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and Sudan’s Omar al Bashir were among the heads of state and government present.

Former leaders; Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Festus Mogae of Botswana, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Pierre Buyoya of Burundi and Joyce Banda of Malawi were also in attendance.

“I think it is a very good idea that ex-leaders come together with current leaders to share experience and try to talk very frankly about the challenges facing the continent and also about our relations with the international community,” Annan, who was attending the annual forum for the first time, said.
Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa, now in its fifth year, is an inspiration of the late Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi and is organised by the Institute for Peace and Security Studies, IPSS, of Addis Ababa University.

The forum is chaired by former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo, and seeks to provide a platform for current and former leaders to interact with key stakeholders in an informal setting to tackle contemporary issues facing the continent.