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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
Should military rulers be allowed back to power?
In Mali, General Amadou Toumani Toure, a former military head of state, has officially been proclaimed the next president by the Constitutional Court - a month after the election began.

The whole electoral process was marred by allegations of fraud, which led the court to annul huge numbers of votes.

But he still won by a landslide with 65% of the vote - against 35% for his rival in the second round, Soumaila Cisse from the ruling Adema party.

Meanwhile, in the Ivory Coast, former military leader General Robert Guei, has been chosen to lead one of the political parties.

General Guei seized power in a coup in December 1999, but lost elections held the next year.

What do you think of ex-military rulers taking positions in civilian governments?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction


Military service has become elitist

Jibir Abubakr, Nigeria
It is inevitable for military personnel to be in leadership because they have destroyed all civil institutions capable of producing credible leaders and military service has become elitist with highly restricted membership.
Jibir Abubakr, Nigeria

It's unimportant where a leader comes from or what his background is. What is important is what he does with his leadership.
Victor D., Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Unfortunately just like in many other countries, military officers are not people with the best brains in the continent. Usually, they are school or college dropouts though physically, they are fit as they can run, shout and kill their enemies or at times, their own people.
Otto, Uganda

I have no problem with any democratically elected leader, ex-military dictator or not. The key point is that a country needs a strong army if it wants to run a strong legal system; laws are useless without an institution to implement them. So why not have an ex-military officer as a leader who understands the relationship between the army and the rule of law.
Garth, Zimbabwe

Former military leaders are citizens too and as such they are qualified to vote and be voted for in their respective countries. It is for the people of those countries to decide whether they like these former military men to lead them. After all most of America's Presidents were military men.
John M Kabia, Sierra Leonean/UK


The track records of many ex-military leaders around the world has proven outstanding and worthy of emulation

P Brown, The Netherlands

The track records of many ex-military leaders around the world has proven outstanding and worthy of emulation. Therefore, the issue of political competence lies with the individual and not the uniform he wears. Ex-military leaders like Jerry J. Rawlings of Ghana, Eyadema of Togo,Fidel Castro of Cuba, Xanana of East Timor, Musavami of Uganda, Gadaffi of Libya, Obansajo of Nigeria etc. have successfully steered the state of ship in their respective countries despite all internal and external odds. Many of the ex-Presidents of the United States of America were ex-military personnel. What problem did that created for the USA? The track records of these Ex-presidents speak for itself -excellent. Let's give our military leaders a chance to succeed where the politicians have failed.
P Brown, The Netherlands

African military rulers should be allowed into politics only if people decide so through the ballot box.
Nsambila Cecilio Mbolela, Chicago-USA-Zambian

Yes, the military should be given time in a democratic era so that they could flush out indiscipline and corruption which characterise our so-called civilian democratic governments. My kudos go to Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, Obasanjo of Nigeria just to name a few. We need to inject a new blood into the system in order to make a change.
Habib Rahman Kamara, Sierra Leonean in Ghana

I think it depends on the past leadership of the ex-military rulers. Some military or ex-military rulers perform to best expectations of their people in government. I am not saying this to encourage any military personnel to over throw their elected government in power. It is just the matter of fact that some ex-military rulers are still remembered in history because of their past leadership abilities. Remember folks, "what goes around, comes around."
David A. Sunday-gar, Liberia/U.S.A.


True democracy is still very far from the shores of the continent.

Mike Ikhariale, USA
The fact that former military dictators are coming back to partisan politics in Africa is a confirmation of the fact that true democracy is still very far from the shores of the continent. Military men who chose to sabotage their country's constitution by staging coup d'etat are not to be trusted with political decency and the rule of law. The case of retired generals still meddling in the civil politics of African is an ugly confirmation of the fact that these soldiers did not really leave the scene. Either they continue with their proxies or they decide to return full force as is the case in most African countries. Little wonder that not much is happening in the direction of political development.
Mike Ikhariale, USA

Military Leaders in Africa have done little to show they care for their people. They have often amassed wealth of staggering proportions, enough to destabilise the fragile democracies that are created after their rule. To allow them remain in the country with their stolen wealth is reckless, to allow them participate is to snuff out democracy before it starts. Note 90% of the congress men elected in the last US election had bigger campaign budgets than their rivals. What chance can a well meaning politician have against a $100m fortune of the Abachas in Nigeria?
Wale Osibeluwo, UK

It is very doubtful if a former military head of state would be able to pass the basic test of democratic eligibility after the use of absolute power under a military dispensation. The military represents all that democracy abhors hence on their leaving public office whether voluntarily or forced out they should be made to face the law for their unwholesome iniquities. A military insurgency is an unpardonable affront against the will of the people as expressed in the constitution. This in itself should attract a criminal prosecution.
Olubukola Oreofe, Nigeria


We must embrace democracy from its beginning to its end.

George Mutua, Kenya
Most military rulers in Africa assume power not because they are qualified but because their military position makes it easy for them to do so. They completely ignore the basic principles of democracy. Since they gain the national platform via undemocratic and unjust means there can never be a justification for them being recognised as legitimate leaders even after what appears to be a democratic election. In most cases, they find ways to corrupt what is supposed to be a fair and just democratic process based on the will of the people and rig their way back into office. We must embrace democracy from its beginning to its end. The tradition of military dictators in Africa is what continues to politically corrupt and economically cripple many of our dear nations In Africa.
George Mutua, Kenya

If Africans want to progress; if they want decent lives for their children in the future, they should not permit Military Leaders to rule their countries.
James, UK

If the constitution of a country says that every citizen of that country has a right to vote and be voted for, I sincerely don't see any reason(s) why ex-military rulers should not be allowed back to power. What counts then is the peoples' mandate
Divine, Scotland

See also:

Links to more African Debates stories are at the foot of the page.


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