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CommentaryPolitical Hotfire

African presidents must practice true democracy while in office to avoid having compulsory dinners with the military

By Jones Mallay

No one, not even a disoriented fading African President will be willing to wine and dine with a brutal African military junta for any reason. But the fact is that if an elected African civilian President will choose to become a brutal dictator overnight to terrorize his citizens and practice rampant corruption, dehumanization, and abuse of his constitutional power by clinching to political power. While should such a brutal African president be kept in constitutional authority when he and the military have similar dictatorial concepts of governance?

 This was the case with the military euphoria that rocked the systemic corrupt and brutal regime of the 82-year former president, Alpha Conde, under the auspices of Col. Mamady Doumbouya. The Guinean episode shouldn’t be placed on the political backburner by so-called Liberian democrats at home and abroad. The matter requires urgent attention, especially where a bullheaded African President like Conde preached what he couldn’t practice.

Unequivocally, if a duly elected civilian President like Conde who behaved erratically by showing signs of an autocratic rule against his people should deserve having dinner with the military. Though some so-called Liberian Democrats are vehemently opposed to the military takeover in Guinea, the question is where were they when former President Conde behaved erratically and undemocratically against his people?

Interestingly, bodies like ECOWAS, AU, and the United Nations did turn their blind eyes to the autocratic governance of former president Conde while he was in power especially when he changed his country’s constitution and consolidated political power for third consecutive terms. Conde even murdered at least 84 innocent Guinean’ demonstrators, yet these bodies didn’t demonize him. They rather validated Conde’s autocratic governance. Vividly, eleven (11) African Presidents including Weah of Liberia, Julius Bio of Sierra Leone, and Ouattara of Ivory Coast didn’t nullify Conde’s third time but praise him.

But another time bomb is insight. The Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara defied his country’s presidential term limits when he changed his country’s constitution to remain in power for a third term after he won a 94% landslide. ECOWAS/AU however validated President Alassane’s third term in power. But who knows, if Presidents Weah of Liberia and Julius of Sierra Leone are thinking about changing their nation’s constitutions to run for a third term as well, which would be devastatingly undemocratic.

 It is politically embarrassing to witness African civilian Presidents using democracy as an opportunistic tool to engage in a wide range of undemocratic practices such as systemic corruption, daylight stealing of their nation’s scare resources, the enslavement of their citizens, plundering their nations’ resources, undermining their nation’s constitution, implementing extra-judicial killing of their citizens and perpetuating acute nepotism coupled with their refusal to be transparent and accountable to their people. They are enriching themselves at the expense of the nation’s limited resources while their people dwell in perpetual hardship.

It can be recalled that former President William V.S. Tubman did hide behind democracy to clinch political power for 27-years, it was a death that saved Liberia. The late Pres. Doe also hid behind democracy to remain in power the only assignation got him out. The late President Ahmed Sékou Touré took power in 1958 and ruled for three terms, he was brought down by death to save Guinea. Former President Siaka Probyn Stevens ruled Sierra Leone from 1967 to 1985 and promoted patrimonial rule and self-indulgence to consolidate power utilizing corruption and exploitation only death was able to save the people of Sierra Leone. There is plenty of evidence around West Africa.

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Other provocateurs argued that if civilian Presidents behaved undemocratically, the same citizenry should use the same ballot to remove such autocratic Presidents from power. But the irony is that an autocratic President in power will use all state resources to create an unsaved voting environment to cheat and steal said elections, or even win over 98% of the votes, and imprisoned the opposition. What is the point of protecting an autocratic civilian President in power who is behaving erratically and undemocratically?

For far too long many political schools of thought have continued to crucify military juntas for violently overthrowing so-called civilian Presidents, which is not factually correct. If a duly elected democratic President does play by the democratic rules, no one can overthrow him. But those who are being overthrown are those that hide behind democracy to perpetual undemocratic practices such as systemic corruption, changing of their nation’s constitution, stealing their nation’s resources, and erecting countless private duplexes at the expense of taxpayers which constitutes undemocratic practices.

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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