From: People For Peace
Colleagues Home & Abroad
BY FR JOACHIM OMOLO OUKO, AJ
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 2012
The wisdom of African ancestors is reflected in this Ghanaian proverb which says: “If you haven’t been to the war front, you’ll have the pleasure to chastise others for not fighting hard enough.” This is exactly what is happening with some African leaders who want to stay on power until death.
That is why, even though Senegal’s leader Abdoulaye Wade, 85, was booed as he cast his vote on Sunday in the capital, Dakar, even after losing in his own constituency in the middle-class Dakar neighbourhood of Point E, he still wants to stay on power.
Even after admitting that he may not have got enough votes to avoid a run-off he is not ready to step down honorably. According to unofficial results – with more than half of the vote counted when we were still on press – give Mr Wade 32 percent, with his closest rival and former Prime Minister Macky Sall on 25 percent.
Senegal’s constitutional court ruled that Mr Wade could stand again on the grounds that his first term had not counted since it began before the two-term limit was introduced in 2001, even though his decision to stand again sparked weeks of violent protests – leading to about six deaths – although polling day itself was largely peaceful. Analysts have warned of further unrest if Wade were to win the election.
The protests that have rocked the country began in 2011 when Wade attempted to rush a law through parliament that would have reduced the percentage a candidate needed to win on the first round from 50 percent to 25 percent. He was forced to scrap the proposal after riots immobilised the capital.
Wade is among a list of elderly leaders clinging to power in sub-Saharan Africa despite demands for them to step down. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe used his recent 88th birthday to lash out at critics and vowed to run for re-election.
Despite rumors that Mugabe is ill with cancer he appeared spry, pledging to defy critics who say he should step down because of his age. “I’m still strong. There’s no going back,” he said. “I won’t surrender.”
Mr. Mugabe led Zimbabwe to independence in 1980 and later to near-economic ruin and bloody conflict between political opponents. In 2000, he allowed his supporters to seize white-owned farms ahead of elections, prompting Western nations to impose sanctions and causing the economy to shrink by 50 percent over the next eight years.
His government responded by printing money, which destroyed the currency—a 100-trillion note was issued—emptied store shelves and set the stage for a bloody 2008 election cycle.
The Zimbabwe government has moved ahead with proposed changes to the constitution that will make it easier for Mugabe to run for re-election. The changes would allow for joint presidential and parliamentary polls next year and amend the rules for electing a new president if the post becomes vacant during the presidential term.
Zimbabwe’s official Herald newspaper on Saturday said the government had published a legal notice of the proposed changes, expected to be brought to parliament next month for debate.
In March, President Robert Mugabe claimed he had won full endorsement from his ruling Zanu PF party to stand for re-election next year, despite policies widely blamed for an economic meltdown.
Other longest strong men of African leaders who have refused to relinquish power include Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Paul Biya of Cameroon. What happened in the second half of 2011 in North Africa and more specifically in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya does not seem to have had any kind of effect on some of these Sub-Saharan African Leaders.
May be time will tell just like in 2011 when Africa for the first time witnessed the removal from power of three sitting presidents without an election. Three of the ten longest serving leaders have fallen – Ben Ali of Tunisia ruled for 23 years, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt ruled for 30 years and the longest, Libyan leader Gaddafi who ruled for 42 years.
Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea has ruled the country for 32, Jose Santos of Angola, 32, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe,31, Paul Biya of Cameroon, 29 and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, 25, King Mswati III of Swaziland, 24, and Blaise Campore of Burkina Fasso for 24 years, yet they are still claiming to be strong to rule until death.
In DRC police had to fire rubber bullets at a crowd when Joseph Kabila declared himself the president despite an outcry that he massively rigged the election. The crowd of about 200 gathered in President Street, carrying placards and handing out cards that bore a photograph of a DRC opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi whom they believed won the election.
While Senegal has done away with it, other Africa’s election schedule for 2012, Guinea-Bissau 18 March Presidential; The Gambia 29 March Parliamentary ; Mali 29 April Presidential (First Round); Mali 13 May Presidential (Second Round); Algeria May Parliamentary; Burkina Faso May Parliamentary; Lesotho May Parliamentary; Seychelles May Parliamentary; Senegal 17 June Parliamentary; Congo (Brazzaville) June Parliamentary; Egypt June Presidential; Mali 1 July Parliamentary (First Round); Mali 22 July Parliamentary (Second Round); Cameroon July Parliamentary.”
The rests are: “Angola September Presidential/Parliamentary; Togo October Parliamentary; Sierra Leone 17 November Presidential/Parliamentary; Ghana 7 December Presidential (First Round)/Parliamentary; Ghana 28 December Presidential (Second Round); Guinea Parliamentary; Libya Presidential /Parliamentary; Madagascar Presidential/Parliamentary; Mauritania Parliamentary; Tunisia Presidential; Zimbabwe Referendum/Presidential. “All dates are extremely tentative and are based on past poll scheduling patterns.” Kenya is not yet decided whether elections are held this year or 2013 March.
The challenges Wade is faced with if re-elected it to tackle the unemployment among the young people which according to the World Bank it stands at 23 percent. With population of 12,643,799, the birth rate in Senegal is very high. Annual population growth rate is estimated at 2.5 percent.
This is because Muslim is the predominant religion in Senegal at 94 percent, Christian 5 percent and, traditional at 1 percent. Muslims are allowed to marry up to 4 women. Infant mortality rate is at 56.4/1,000 while life expectancy stands at 59.78 years. Work force (5.53 million): Agriculture–77.5 percent (subsistence or cash crops) while Industry and services at 22.5 percent.
Senegal is a semi-arid country predominantly rural and with limited natural resources. As such Senegal depends heavily on foreign assistance, which in 2007 represented about 23 percent of overall government spending–including both current expenditures and capital investments.
Prostitution in Senegal is legal and regulated. Prostitutes must be at least 21 years of age, register with the police, carry a valid sanitary card, and test negative for sexually transmitted infections.
That is why Senegal prides itself on its success in keeping the HIV/Aids prevalence rate in the country at a comparatively low one per cent of the adult population despite the fact that sex trade continues to flourish.
People for Peace in Africa (PPA)
P O Box 14877