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The Unfinished Arab Spring

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In 2011 when the popular uprising began in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria known as the “Arab Spring, most analysts thought it would spread throughout the Arab World but surprisingly it did not.
While it brought about changes in Tunisia and Egypt, that of Syria later snowballed into a civil war which terrorists such as ISIS capitalised on to create mayhem and mass killings.
However, nine years after, other Arab sit-tight dictators in Algeria and Sudan have had a taste of what a popular uprising looks like. Both Presidents, Abdulaziz Bourtoflika and Omar Al-Bashir were removed from office following months of protests without gunshots. All what was required were chants, strike actions and street demonstrations against injustice, corruption and an end to dictatorship. In essence, what the people wanted were changes in their economic situation and the restoration of democracy.
In Algeria, Abdulaziz Bouteflika who had already had a stroke and is wheel-chair bound refused every entreaty to step down due to his ill-health and inability to tackle the high unemployment issue affecting the country. To make matters even worse, despite his health condition and at the age of 82, he still wanted to contest for a fifth term in office after ruling the country for 20 years.
Though he is out of office, the protesters are still unrelenting and are calling for the removal from office, the old guard that has been ruling the country since its independence in 1962.
Likewise in Sudan, the protesters are also calling for the removal of all military presence in the proposed transition process. These calls are not without some merit as the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution has shown them that if proper safeguards are not put in place, Sudan or Algeria will end up in the hands of another military dictator who will hijack the revolution to perpetuate himself in power.
In most revolutions, those who topple and kill their opponents are likely to turn against their allies and people with equal vengeance. That’s why the protesters are saying that though some elements in the military were motivated by them to remove the former presidents from office they should handover the transition process to civilians to manage. Despite pleas so far, the protests are still ongoing.
Although the new political change is exciting, but its long term success depends on consistency and perseverance. This is because once there is any lapse in the coordination of the change made so far, the surviving elements in the status quo will re-strategise not only to survive but think of ways to use the system to either infiltrate the opposition movement and utilize the opportunities thus created to perpetuate themselves in power by removing their military toga and don civilian clothes to contest for the presidency as was done in Egypt.
One unique feature in the Sudanses uprising was that for the first time in the country’s history, Muslims had to invite the Christian minority population to join them and work as a team to fight for the restoration of freedom and true democracy.
Already because of the mounting pressure the military in both countries are in a dilemma. While in Algeria the head of the military Gaed Sala said they are looking for options to end the imbroglio as soon as possible, in Sudan all entreaties by the ruling military council to placate the opposition have been rebuffed.
In essence what this means is that there is high level of suspicion by leaders of the uprising that if they relent in their demands they might end up being fed the Egyptian menu… where those who led the uprising ended up behind bars.
What are the lessons that can be learnt from this second phase of the Arab awakening, especially in Africa as Sit-tight dictatorship seems to be on the wane?
Gadaffi is gone, likewise Robert Mugabe, Yahaya Jammeh is no more in office, the remaining presidents who for the last 20 to 30 years have been in power should start thinking of an exist route as to receive a soft landing. Meanwhile, Omar Albashir is now in a maximum prison in Sudan never to enjoy the trappings of power again. Maybe if he reflects over his mistakes, he will realize that his actions to cling on to power would eventually be fruitless as the momentum of the protest which started in December 2018 had no alternative than for him to relinquish power when the situation would have given him the opportunity to negotiate his exit with honour.
Maybe he thought he was a better politician than Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.
One thing every African leader should begin to understand is that they should never take the people they rule for granted and overstay their terms in office. African leaders must as a matter of fact; especially for their own sake avoid being that to be disgraced at their old age, showed respect the constitution of their countries; respect the rule of law and learn to know when to quit office when the ovation is at a high crescendo.
A look at years past saw how presidents who were held in high esteem ended.
Laurent Gbagbo, Blaise compoare, Samuel Doe, Yahaya Jammeh, Mobutu Sese Seko, Idi Amin, Jean Bedel Bakassa, Kwarue Nkrumah, said Barre and Hastings kamuzu Banda. They all ended in disgrace or exile.
Hopeful the level of maturity shown by the protesters in Algeria and Sudan is an indication that popular protests don’t have to be bloody for a change of government as lot does not really, need gunships, civil war or killings. Once a people expresses their feelings as to have a change of government let both the government and the opposition sit down and negotiate on how to move the nation forward. No one individual has the monopoly of wisdom in ruling a country. This is because after being in power for over 20 or 30 years with no tangible development what than can a man in his 80’s offer in a modern society where youth now form the majority of the population.
Though every society has its own unique feature, one common denominator is that people need an infuse of new thoughts, technology and ways of doing things that are in tandem with modern realities. So the days of jackboot democracy are over. The people now have the destiny in their own hands and should not relent in their demand for a true democracy where the freedom to choose who rules is determined by the voters card and not the wishes of a cabal or one man sitting on a throne.

 

Tonye Ikiroma-Owiye

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Politics

Political Space Is Only For Parties Ready To Take Power – Okoye

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Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s), Festus Okoye, national Commissioner on Information and Voter Education has reminded Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) that political space is meant for political parties that are ready to take power, maintaining that political associations can exist, mobilise, build structures before seeking registration, as soon as they get registered they must be ready to take power.
Okoye said this while speaking on a local media station after the High Court adjourned hearing in the case filed by 33 political parties under the auspices of IPAC, challenging their deregistration by INEC.
The national commissioner reminded IPAC that as registered political parties, they should be ready to take power, because the space was not for learning, as the electoral body would be prepared to de-register any political partyand relegate it to an association if it found out that the party failed to meet the threshold of its registration, in accordance with the 1999 Constitution.
“The political parties contesting did not meet the terms of their registration, neither did they win elections in their various states, nor met the projections. Two of the parties that went to court, Labour Party and African Democratic Party, were not deregistered. They claimed they had court injunctions and I don’t know what they are doing in court.”
“The spirit and intent of the constitution, is that political associations can exist, mobilize people, build up structures. The moment they come for registration means they are ready to take power. If you are not due for political power, you should not apply for registration, because the political space is not for learning or testing the ground”, he said.
Okoye said that 74 political parties had been deregistered and the deregistion had already taken place.
He maintained that because the 33 political parties that went to court were aware that deregistration had taken place, that was why on 14 February they filed an application in court, asking the court to reverse it.
The INEC official stated that the act had already been completed, that was why the court adjourned till 27 February for accelerated hearing.

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IPAC Hails Court Order Restraining INEC From De-Registering 31 Parties

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The Inter-Party Adversary Council (IPAC) has described the judgment stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from deregistering political parties as victory for democracy and future generations.
National chairman of the council, Peter Ameh, who made the comment while addressing newsmen shortly after the ruling, said the late Gani Fawehinmi gave the 33 political parties that went to court the courage.
Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in her ruling, said, having failed to counter the application by the applicants, the affected political parties had the legal right, which must be protected.
In an interlocutory motion with suit number FHC/ABJ/ CS/444/19 between Advanced Congress of Democratis (ACD) and two others vs. Attorney-General of the Federation and another (INEC), the applicants had on October 30, 2019, approached the court.
The IPAC chairman insisted that there was no way the commission would have succeeded in the illegality it perpetrated against the parties and the fundamental rights of Nigerians.
“We have every reason to thank everybody who stood against this illegality, especially Okey Raph Nwosu, who, despite his party scaling the deregistration hurdle, still joined in the suit because he believed in democracy.
“We believe in the spirit of the Constitution as stated in Section 40, which gave Nigerians the right to freely belong to any political association, and the Constitution stipulated that no agency of government can restrict that right.
“We started this case since last year when we saw that there was plan to put Nigeria upside down. It is our right to defend the constitution through section 225 to challenge the commission to stop it from taking this illegal action.
“INEC should know that if the interest of a political party is to talk about free education, the party should be allowed. If the interest is to talk about tree planting in the North-East, it should be allowed to continue with it.

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Group Advises Women On Increased Participation In Politics

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Enugu State chapter of the Nigeria League of Women Voters, has urged women to be very active in politics to avoid marginalisation.
The state chairperson of the league, Mrs Nnenna Anozie made the call in an interview with our source in Enugu yesterday.
was a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) and a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) that aims at empowering women both politically and economically.
She said that the league encouraged women to participate in election; adding that they discovered that in the last elections, many women did not participate either as voters or contestants in the elections.
Anozie said that the organisation aimed creating more awareness on the girl child and for every woman to be aware of her civil rights in the state and the country at large.
The chairperson said the group recently visited one of the girls schools in Enugu where they shared sanitary pads, carried out sensitisation awareness on dangers of drug abuse, rape and others.
”This is one way of giving back to the society as well as empowering our women because knowledge is power. Most of them are not knowledgeable about their rights and how to keep hygiene.
”Many of them are rape victims and they are not opening up because of stigmatisation.
”We want to embark on the sensitisation drive in all the states in the country; hoping that come 2023 most of our women will be equipped to run for political offices both at the local, state and national levels,” she said.

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