Rights Group Says Army Coup in Mali is Lesson for Africa’s Civilian Dictators

August 19, 2020
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By Ngozi Ekhator

A pro-democracy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), Wednesday described the army take over of power in Mali as an event that should be a lesson to Africa’s civilian dictators.

The group in a statement, however, charged the new military leaders in the West African country, Mali, to quickly return to civilians.

Full details of the statement…

A Statement By The Pro-Democracy and Leading Civil Rights Advocacy Group;  Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) Condemning The Development in Mali Which Has Snowballed Into A Coup and Tasking The Nigerian President and Other African Leaders  Who Do Not Respect Divergent Opinions to See it As  a Big Lesson

*Introduction:

The Declaration adopted on 24 September 2012 by the United Nations General Assembly at the High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels reaffirmed that “human rights, the rule of law and democracy are interlinked and mutually reinforcing and that they belong to the universal and indivisible core values and principles of the United Nations.

Indeed, government responsiveness to the interests and needs of the greatest number of citizens is strictly associated with the capacity of democratic institutions and processes to bolster the dimensions of rights, equality and accountability.

Constitutions do much more than establish a government and regulate its relationships with citizens. In many countries, they have also become crisis management tools. The benefits of constitutions designed for conflict-affected and deeply divided States hinge on their ability to reconcile groups, to address intolerable grievances and to prevent further polarization and conflict deterioration.

Implementing good governance is never easy, but it is critical to the success of Africa as good governance and economic growth are inextricably linked. Together they are the keys to a nation’s stability, the well-being of its people, and to prosperity.

*The Issue:

Before 2012, and since the 1991 uprising, which saw the ouster of the country’s long-standing military dictator and ushered in a democratically elected government, Mali achieved a record of democratization that is among the best in Africa. This process was driven by multiple factors. External observers often point to broader Africa-wide change and a remarkable constellation of “founding fathers” who demonstrated vision and self-sacrifice following the change of government.

However, the once acclaimed classic model of democracy in the relatively unstable West Africa sub-region has been experiencing political upheavals since 2012 which has been threatening the fabrics of its very existence.

The event of late Tuesday, August 18, which led to Mali’s elected President Boubacar Keita announcing his resignation, just hours after armed soldiers seized him and his Prime Minister; Boubou Cisse, in a dramatic power grab following months of protests demanding his removal marked a repeat of the events leading up to the 2012 coup, which unleashed years of chaos in Mali when the ensuing power vacuum allowed Islamic extremists to seize control of northern towns.

The troops responsible for this recent upheaval came from the same military barracks where the 2012 coup was launched more than eight years ago.

It would be recalled that back in 2012, a similar Military Coup had upstaged the civilian regime of President Amadou Toumani Toure in March, 2012 amidst unabated rebellion in the north of the country by Tuareg rebels, instigated by al-Qaueda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The mutiny had erupted at the Kati military camp as rank-and-file soldiers began rioting and then broke into the camp’s armory. After grabbing weapons, they later headed for the seat of government under the leadership of Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo. Nonetheless, Sanogo was later forced to hand over power to a civilian transitional government, which then organized the election the recently ousted Keita won.

The recent political upheaval unfolded months after disputed legislative elections. And it also came as support for Keita tumbled amid criticism of his government’s handling of the insurgency, which has engulfed a country once praised as a model of democracy in the region; a situation not different from what has been happening in Nigeria.

Reportedly, the military has taken a beating over the past year from Islamic State and al-Qaida-linked groups. A wave of particularly deadly attacks in the north in 2019 prompted the government to close its most vulnerable outposts as part of a reorganization aimed at stemming the losses.

*Our Position and Demands:

The unfolding Coup by rebel soldiers who claim to be the patriotic forces grouped together within the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), under the leadership Colonel-Major Ismaël Wagué; Deputy Chief of Staff of the Air Force is absolutely condemnable and totally unacceptable as there should be nothing like a coup in a democratic country. The will of the people should be respected and the man who has the mandate to govern his people should be restored.

Beyond this, what is happening to Ibrahim Boubacar Keita should be seen as a big lesson to the Nigerian President in particular and other African Leaders in general who have decided to be African big men who do not respect divergent opinions. They should learn one or two lessons from what has happened in Mali.

Perceptibly, the civilian government in Mali attracted this problem to themselves due to corruption and insecurity, which is not different from what is happening everywhere in Nigeria; people are being killed due to insecurity all over the place, corruption and ineffectiveness of leadership and dictatorship.

Just like the band of rebels led by Captain Amadou Sango in 2012 were displeased with the inability of the then Malian government to effectively tackle the insecurity in the north, so also Colonel-Major Ismaël Wagué-led mutinous soldiers behind Tuesday’s military coup complained of complacency and weakness of the state authority in not guarantying freedom and security of the people.

Be that as it may be, we are hoping that what is happening in Mali will be upturned, and the Military person that has taken over should step down. If he doesn’t step down within a week, the African Union, ECOWAS and other international stakeholders should send soldiers to remove him by force and re-establish an atmosphere of internal peace, security and stability in Mali and an immediate release of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and other senior officials as well as return to constitutional order as soon as possible.

Military has no place in leadership when it comes to democracy and must be under the control of the civilian authority as that is what democracy is all about.

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