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Sudan a stark reminder of need to end impunity

By Editorial | October 27th 2021
A road barricade is set on fire during what the information ministry calls a military coup in Khartoum, Sudan, October 25, 2021. [Reuters, El Tayeb Siddig]

Africa could be fast turning into a continent in crisis, defined more by its troubles than triumphs. 

On Monday, the Sudanese military dissolved the civilian rule, arrested leaders and declared a state of emergency, leading to chaos. 

The situation in Sudan should worry everyone keen on the continent’s democratic potency. According to reports, Khartoum largely remains edgy.

The military may have siezed power at the spur of the moment but their action negates full transition to civilian rule. In 2019, President Omar Al Bashir was overthrown in same-style military offensive. Al Bashir was dethroned as he faced crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague in connection to killings in Darfur. 

Guinea went down the same route last month when its military declared President Alpha Conde a persona non grata. Not long ago, grave political crises hit Mali twice, Egypt and Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast and Central Africa Republic. The list is long. Between 1956 and 2001, there have been 80 successful and 108 attempted ones in sub Saharan Africa. It is an open secret that many African nations are fraying at the edges due to undemocratic tendencies by leaders. We’ve seen leaders tinkering with law to cling to power, perpetuate rights violations and plunder public resources.

At this point in time, we urge the continents’ political leaders to seize the moment and embrace progressive and pro-people governance. 

While coups aren’t necessarily the panacea to misrule, it is incontestable that the top-down rule as we know it has failed. It has left in its wake social and economic misery. The average poverty rate for sub-Saharan Africa is 41 per cent. Out of the world’s 28 poorest countries, 27 are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Let leaders embrace transparency, respect for rights and term limits. Economic empowerment, zero tolerance to graft and an immediate end to election rigging hold the key to the continent’s stability. An important lesson for leaders is that what you do ascend to power will be done unto you. A coup succeeds a coup and a botched election succeeds another. There’s no harm in doing the right thing.

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