Experienced diplomat and retired politician Vernon Johnson Mwaanga has lamented the recent coup in Niger which ousted President Mohamed Bazoum who was elected President of Niger in 2021.
Soldiers in Niger three days ago announced they had ousted the West African nation’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, in a national televised address.
Surrounded by uniformed soldiers, Niger’s Colonel-Major Abdramane — representing the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland (CNSP) — declared the military has “put an end to the regime” of Bazoum. citing “the deteriorating security situation and bad governance.”
In his weekend article, Dr. Mwaanga branded the military coup in Niger which ousted the democratically elected President, as a major set-back for democracy on the continent of Africa.
He noted that the recent coups in Sudan, Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso and now in Niger are a major setback for Africa.
“The military coup in Niger which ousted the democratically elected President is a major set-back for democracy on the continent of Africa. President Mohamed Bazoum was elected President of Niger in 2021, in elections which international election observers described as “free and fair”. He was ousted by his own Presidential Guards and subsequently, the Army of Niger, announced its support for the coup. After going through a period of holding elections for political leaders at all levels. Recent developments in Sudan, Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso and now in Niger are a major setback for Africa. This is the 7th coup since 2020,” Dr. Mwaanga wrote.
“The African Union has officially taken a zero tolerance stance against the removal of democratically elected leaders by the military. There is an urgent need for punitive measures to be taken by the international community against countries which change power, using unconstitutional means, because they are an affront to emerging democracies. An interim leader General Tchiane has now been appointed,” he explained.
The former Zambian envoy to the United Nations (UN) said Africa must commit itself to upholding democratic values.
“Experience teaches us that democracy – whatever you perceive it to be – is a collective undertaking that involves duties and obligations, rights and responsibilities that bring together the leaders and the led, the elected and the electors, representatives of civil society and political institutions in a constant process of dialogue, consultation and consensus building. Africa has suffered a major setback, when you take into account the fact that there are still people out there who treat Africa as a country and not a huge continent of 55 countries.”
He continued:”There is still a frequent practice of ascribing to the whole of Africa, failings and misfortunes which occur in one country on the African continent. For example, the Eurocentric Press used to describe the Ugandan Military dictator Idi Amin and the then President and later Emperor of the Central African Republic, as “African dictators”, whereas Benito Mussolini of Italy, Adolf Hitler of Germany and Generalissimo Franco of Spain, were never described as “European fascists”. They were always debited to their individual countries.”
Dr. Mwaanga observed that political instability hinders sustainable development.
“We must all commit ourselves to upholding democratic values. We cannot expect to develop our countries without political stability. We cannot develop our countries without the rule of law. The role of the opposition is no less important, in entrenching democracy. The challenge for them is to show that opposition is in no way conterminous with disrespect and disloyalty to the state and its institutions: and far from being a force for dissension all the time, they are integral to true widening of the frontiers of freedom. We owe it to ourselves, to the present generation and to generations yet unborn, to make sure that we succeed. Failure is not an option,” he said.