Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has observed that democracy is on the rise in Africa, but argued that corruption and impunity still remain at the highest level. He says the rise in Africa’s democracy has also been challenged by the resistance of its leaders to respect the dignity of their fellow citizens. Something he said “are a sign that the balance of power still sits firmly with those in office, and not—as it should be– those who vote them in.”
The new political leader of the ruling Unity Party or UP made these comments recently when he delivered the keynote address at the Nelson Mandela International Roundtable on political development in Africa, hosted by Save Democracy Group-Africa (SDG-Africa) in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
VP Boakai who spoke on the theme: African Democracy, Constitutionalism, Leadership Emergence Pattern said Africa’s political discourse and democratic entitlements have been undermined by the personalization of ideas and the absence of institutions.
“It should be noted that, as to the question of constitutional presidential term limits and other fast growing developments, there has been resistance by some African leaders. This resistance is a product of the historic personalization of politics and the supremacy of individual over institutions,” said Boakai.
He said in spite of several constitutional reforms aimed at discouraging the perpetuation of power, “several leaders have resisted or, in some cases, brazenly attempted to change the constitution to prolong their stay in power,” adding that leaders who attempt to make themselves permanent only undermine democracy.
“Those who attempt to change presidential term limits offend our progress towards the consolidation of democracy by usurping the people’s rights usually to sustain their indulgence in corruption to enrich and further entrench themselves,” the UP 2017 presidential candidate said.
“This we must seek to discourage in much firmer terms by putting into place continental framework. By doing this, we will continue to strengthen African democracy and constitutionalism,” he added He says the current model of political organization has only succeeded in greater measure in skewing individual successes against collective projects.
But in spite of the emergence of leaders manipulating constitutions to prolong their stay in power, Boakai acknowledged that democracy is nonetheless becoming the rule of the game. He says the continent has made noticeable progress in consolidating its democratic credentials. “Evidently, we have collectively rejected the subversion of governments by the military.” Said Boakai. The vice president returns home today.
By Othello B. Garblah