Don’t create conditions for unrest – Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan

Former UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan has urged African leaders to leave when their mandated tenure of office is up.

They should also stop excluding opposing voices if elections were to cease contributing to conflicts on the continent.

The renowned international diplomat said that while unconstitutional changes to government on the continent had reduced, exclusionary politics threatened to reverse the gains made, the Africa Press Organisation reported on Tuesday.

“I think Africa has done well, by and large the coups have more or less ended, generals are remaining in their barracks, but we are creating situations, which may bring them back,” the report quoted the Nobel Laureate, at the 5thTana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“If a leader doesn’t want to leave office, if a leader stays on for too long, and elections are seen as being gamed to suit a leader and he stays term after term after term, the tendency may be the only way to get him out is through a coup or people taking to the streets.

“Neither approach can be seen as an alternative to democracy, to elections or to parliamentary rule. Constitutions and the rules of the game have to be respected.”

Mr Annan, the keynote speaker at the forum, this year, said winner-take-all approaches to elections on the continent had the effect of leaving out citizens for holding an opposing view, thus raising tensions around elections.

Mr Annan, who chairs the Africa Progress Panel and the Nelson Mandela – founded; The Elders Grouping, said he had been the first to tell the African Union not to accept coup leaders among their midst.

Mr Annan also said the solutions to the problems of the continent must come from within.

However, the continent must build up its ability to do so, including financing its institutions, he said.

“We cannot always pass a hat around and insist we want to be sovereign, we want to be independent,” he said. “We should lead and get others to support us—that support will be much more forthcoming when they see how serious and committed we are.”

The African Union has reportedly struggled to get members to pay their dues to allow it to run its operations and programmes efficiently, a recurrent theme addressed by leaders at the forum in the Ethiopian city of Bahir Dar.

Mr Annan said such budgetary concerns were constraining the work of the continent in strengthening stability, and called for creative ways of resourcing the body.

“I was happy to hear them [African leaders] say ‘we must be prepared to pay for what we want; we must be prepared to put out our own money on the table and fund issues that are of great importance to us,’” he said.

The forum, now in its fifth year, is an inspiration of the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and it is organised by the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) of Addis Ababa University.

An invitation-only event, it is chaired by former Nigeria President, Olusegun Obasanjo, and seeks to provide a platform for current and former leaders to interact with key stakeholders in an informal setting to tackle contemporary issues facing the continent.

The fourm does not make decisions but the report says it is becoming an African ‘brand’ of note where local solutions are innovatively explored as the region seeks to carve out its place in a global security architecture dominated by western and emerging powers.

Leaders and experts at the Tana Forum also noted that the continent was not isolated.

“As Africa faces increasing security challenges, so does the rest of the world,” Obasanjo said. “The continent is well placed to provide innovative solutions to these security challenges.”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Togo’s Faure Gnassingbe, Somalia’s Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and Sudan’s Omar al Bashir were among the heads of State and Government present.

Former leaders Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Festus Mogae of Botswana, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Pierre Buyoya of Burundi and Joyce Banda of Malawi also attended the meeting.

Source: GNA

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