Sunday Monitor: An African Opposition rigs a gov’t out of power!

Ghana can be quite an interesting country. It pioneered independence in 1958 then followed that closely with pioneering coups by overthrowing its independence leader Kwame Nkuruma and now to becoming the first country on the continent where a ruling party has publicly admitted that an election it organised was stolen by the Opposition to the ruling party’s detriment.

In fact the ruling party, the New Patriotic Front of outgoing President John Kufuor whose candidate Nana Akufo-Ado was by Friday still trailing narrowly against the Opposition’s John Ata Mills went as far as announcing how it was boycotting an election in a remote constituency that was expected to be a decider to the Presidential election.

And the reason the party in government wanted the election postponed, “because we think the security situation on the ground is not conducive for a free and fair election,” NPP spokesman Arthur Kennedy told AFP news agency.”

The best New Year present to the continent if you asked me. Mr John Kufour, the incumbent President is stepping down after serving his constitutional two year term.

Ghana formerly known as the Gold Coast because of the vast amounts of gold deposits it had, a net exporter of Cocoa and strategically located recently discovered petroleum off the cost but those high stakes have not transformed, at least for now, into a fight known to most African countries of ‘either they lose or we win.’

It is a new age of African democracy. The fire that was lit, literally, in Kenya at the dusk of the year 2007 and dawn of 2008 has been gaining in intensity and burning brighter across the southern tip and now engulfing the far west of Africa.

The Ugandan Opposition likes to cry all the time about the little space they are given by the government in power to mobilise and function.

True, while as Ghana has built a reputation as one of Africa’s most stable democracies with successive peaceful transfer of power of power, Uganda has never witnessed a single peaceful hand-over of power from one President to another.

But the Opposition needs to wake up to these possibilities and work towards becoming more focussed, issue based and assertive. They have a population to mobilise and issues on which they can rally it. The Ghana example shows that an Opposition that is always crying foul will soon be out of fashion.

Which brings me to the recent coup in Guinea. Writing in Ear To the Ground in Daily Monitor, Wednesday December 31, Charles Onyango Obbo noted, “A few days to the end of 2008, the ugly face of Africa showed itself in Guinea. Its long ruling and long ailing dictator Lansana Conte finally died (at a wise age of only 74).

As his family who had become the most powerful figures in the country and stalwarts of his Party of Unity and Progress jockeyed to take over, the military stepped in,” Obbo quotes some messages of despair and some outright hopelessness about the future of Africa but quickly caps, “just five years ago I would have felt the same; not anymore.”

Mr Obbo’s article was headlined “Coups or no coups Uganda, Africa have changed forever.”

It is instead civilians pulling off dramatic coups against sitting governments and soon the militaries will find themselves constrained to act against the will of the people.
Credit: Charles Mwanguhya

Source: Sunday Monitor

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