Pseudo democracy! That is the verdict of The Economist of London on democracy in Africa a week or so ago. Presidential polls spiralled into post election violence in Gabon in Central Africa this week. It follows the unfortunate pattern emerging in Africa for those who remember Kenya in 2007 and Nigeria in 2011. More than the violence which has seen death and detention of protesters is also the way the crisis is represented by the key actors. Below is a snapshot of the language game going on there as taken from a Reuters’ report thereto yesterday:
“Who lost? A small group whose only aim is to take power for themselves” – incumbent president Ali Bongo’s understanding of what/who is the problem
“Those who want a bureau by bureau count will only be able to do this by going through the constitutional court” – Alain-Claude Bilie By Nze, presidential spokesperson’s intervention
“The constitutional court, like Gabon’s electoral commission, is a tool of the governing authority. They do what they are told to do” – challenger Jean Ping’s sense of it
“I’m calling, therefore, all parties to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid additional victims” – Jean-Marc Ayrault, French Foreign Minister
“Today, the executive has gone into lax mode; judiciary has become lawless; National Assembly is lacking in credibility; INEC is troubled; politicians have gone unruly. Government says it has no money to run the economy. Every element that made 2015 is currently missing. There is absolutely no reason why the executive should allow the number of vacancies we have in INEC to be. By next month, INEC will have 28 vacancies among RECs (Resident Electoral Commissioners) and seven commissioners. The Executive is carrying on as if this normal. It isn’t. Citizens are carrying on like: ‘We will tweet it on social media’. We should do more than that, because our country is at stake. The way we are carrying on, 2015 is history; 2019 may not happen, if we don’t reset. We‘ve got to take our country very seriously. There will be no elections in 2019. I’m sorry to sound alarmist. But, continuing the way we are going, we will not be able to have elections in 2019. If it happens, there would be too many broken heads and dead people” – Chidi Odinkalu, Former Chairman, Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission with an intervention that could be read either as early warning or the trouble maker’s manifesto, depending on who is reading and from which standpoint in a complex Nigeria.