Greed For Power Points To Danger In Fragile West Africa

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WITH PRESIDENT ALPHA Condé, 82, of Liberia’s next-door neighbors, Guinea, poised to secure a third, six-year term, according to results from the just-ended elections pointing to a landslide victory, against  the opposition rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo, the West Africa sub-region appears to endure yet another period of fragility and uncertainty.

AHEAD OF THE ELECTIONS, Mr. Diallo accused Mr. Condé of breaking the law by seeking a third term and has threatened to contest the results of the election in constitutional court.

THE AFTERMATH OF THE elections has turned the capital, Conakry into chaos as the government deployed soldiers to assist the police deal with the protests against Mr Condé.

LIKE LIBERIA, candidates need more than 50% of the vote for outright victory, or there will be a second round on 24 November. Some 5.4 million voters were eligible to vote. Despite the widespread criticism, Mr Condé pushed for a change of the constitution making him eligible to seek re-election.

Months of protests have often turned deadly. At least 12 people were killed in the week leading up to the election.

THE SITUATION took a stunning turn with Diallo alleging large-scale fraud and declared himself winner.

ACCORDING TO THE BBC, Internet and phone services have been cut and ethnic clashes during the campaign had raised fears of nationwide violence if the results were disputed.

ADDITIONALLY, RESIDENTS in opposition strongholds say that many people are holed up in their homes and that the police are using live ammunition instead of tear gas against protesters. 

IN MONROVIA, Guineans residing in the capital, last week, stormed the Guinean embassy to protest the call for a re-run of the presidential elections in their country presidential election with results showing the President, Alpha Condé in the lead. They chanted pro Cellou Dalein Diallo slogans while at the same time calling the incumbent “Voleur” meaning “Thief”.

OVER THE PAST 72 hours, reports have been emerging that Ivorians are pouring into Liberia over fears ahead of the Saturday, October 31,  presidential elections.

LIKE GUINEA, Ivory Coast too is facing controversy over the incumbent 78-year-old President Alassane Ouattara’s decision to seek a third term.

OVER THE PAST few days, the country has plunged into a wave of pre-election intercommunal violence which has left at least seven people dead and 40 others injured in recent days in and around a port town near Abidjan. Some 15 people had already been killed in August and September as tensions mounted.

THE PRE-ELECTIONS VIOLENCE has led to Ivorians crossing over into Liberia.

A FRONTPAGEAFRICA REPORTER who visited Toe Town in Grand Gedeh county at the weekend reports that more than two hundred Ivorian have entered Liberia through Maryland and Grand Gedeh Counties in south-east Liberia.

SOME OF THE IVORIANS who spoke to our correspondent said they are coming as a result of fear form those Presidential candidates.

MR. KAI FARLEY, Superintendent of Grand Gedeh County told FPA that the Ivorians who are entering Grand Gedeh are during its because of fear of their lives.

THE SUPERINTENDENT confirmed the presence of Ivorians entering Liberia as refugees due to the political tension that is continuing to intensify in their country.

THE VIOLENCE in Ivory Coast is drawing memories of post-electoral clashes that killed 3,000 in 2010-11, when then-president Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept his defeat to then-challenger Ouattara.

LAST WEEK, the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) urged opposition parties to “seriously reconsider their decision to boycott the election, and their call on their supporters to engage in civil disobedience”.

FOR THE FORESEEABLE future, the West African sub-region appears to be in trouble. This is where good governance is needed. As long as leaders and rulers continue to put themselves above their people, the problems will continue to linger with the perennial cries over greed, corruption and bad governance, the recurring theme on a continent apparently content with things remaining the same to its own detriment.

WEST AFRICA HAS seen its share of conflicts. Over the years, civil wars have hit Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, and Ivory Coast while there have been coup d’états in the Gambia, Niger, and Guinea, as well as ethnic and religious clashes in Benin, Nigeria, Mali.

THE REGION has also been hit with poverty, political despotism and corruption by governments and rulers keen on hanging on to power.

IT IS SAD THAT the likes of Condé and Ouattara have chosen the route of self over country and their people.

MUCH OF THE PROGRESS made on the continent, particularly West Africa, over the past years could prove meaningless if these recurring issues of greed and thirst to hang on to power continue to linger.

FOR THIS, the regional bloc, ECOWAS must take measures to ensure that leaders respect their term limits and stick to the terms they were elected to serve.

FAILURE ON THE PART of ECOWAS to hold leaders responsible could lead to a resurgence of violence in the sub-region, something that could trigger major economic and political setback for West Africa.

IT IS HIGH TIME that Africa and Africans end the culture of allowing elected officials to cement their stay in power. This is how dictatorships are bred, when people become content with seeing one leader in power for so long and become overly complacent to their own detriment.

THE DANGER TO ALL THIS is that Ivory Coast’s troubles, as was seen in the past is mostly tribal. Although many have credited Outtarra with developing the country, the opposition believes he has overstayed his welcome and must leave, after his two terms.

A LOT OF BLOOD was shed in the aftermath of the elections which brought Outtarra to power. Now, it appears the country is poised for another round of post-elections violence.

SIMILARLY, IN GUINEA, President Condé is poised to endure a turbulent second term, evident by the wave of unrests over the past few days.

ALL THIS AS regional power house, Nigeria is itself engulfed by protests that started with anger over police brutality and have now broadened, drawing worldwide attention.

THE PROTESTS STEM FROM concerns over the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a Nigerian Police Force unit created in late 1992 to deal with crimes associated with robbery, motor vehicle theft, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and firearms.

FOR THE FORESEEABLE future, the West African sub-region appears to be in trouble. This is where good governance is needed. As long as leaders and rulers continue to put themselves above their people, the problems will continue to linger with the perennial cries over greed, corruption and bad governance, the recurring theme on a continent apparently content with things remaining the same to its own detriment.

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