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Wednesday, 9 August, 2000, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Is Monarchy good news for Africa?

When King Mohammed the Sixth of Morocco came to the throne one year ago he called for a new era of law and human rights.

News and Information for Africa
One year on he has reiterated his commitment to democracy, has backed investigations into the personal fortunes of officials and has called for a new understanding of authority.

But are Kings and Chiefs the best people to work in the interests of the population? Or should all the power be with elected presidents and politicians?

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

Your reaction

The monarchy for Ethiopia was like an angel who keeps people from all earthly evils

Shimels Tsegaye, Ethiopia
For Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco and a few other countries, I believe that the constitutional monarchy will bring better economic development and stability. The monarchy for Ethiopia was like an angel who keeps people from all earthly evils.
Shimels Tsegaye, Ethiopia

Just because other nations have adopted democracy, it doesn't necessarily mean that the system will also work in Africa. I think what Africa needs is a political system that can blend its cultural values with people's needs. I don't believe simply inheriting other's political systems will necessarily take us out of our abysmal sufferings.
Ema, Tanzania

I wish to say that one only has to examine Africa's history to find political stability under the monarchical/ tribal system of government. Most Africans, when confronted with the choice associated with sheer democracy, are unsure how to handle that power. I don't advocate totalitarian government but surely we established democracies should help these fledgling ones to understand the principle.
Peter Bolton, UK in US

As long as it can bring political unity and economic stability, there is no reason why monarchy cannot be a viable choice

Tsega, Ethiopia
As long as it can bring political unity and economic stability, there is no reason why monarchy cannot be a viable choice. What matters is not the type or name of the government but its overall contribution to that particular country. If we try to see between the currently few monarchs and the many non-monarch countries in Africa, the atrocities and horror are far worse in the non-monarch countries.
Tsega, Ethiopia

Does it really matter? At this moment in time Africans are desperate for a system that could deliver them sound policies to help them improve their standard of living. Africans need food, clean water and some sort of health care. It is my opinion that freedom and democracy shouldn't be handed out; people need to understand the meaning and concepts of the terms first. Africans' problems can be solved by the new generation, as long as they are given the chance to be educated. Then they will be able to choose a suitable system.
Ben, Preston, England

African needs leaders and forms of government with a different mission. Monarchy and other forms of dictatorship have a narrow vision of prospering their few members while patronising the wide mass for goodwill leftovers.
Million Kebede, Ethiopia/ USA

Why monarchy in the 21st Century? Most people know what monarchy means. It is bad for the majority and good for a handful of people.
Dani, Canada

This system of government was in Africa long before it was introduced into Europe. It had served our people well for centuries before the Europeans came and disrupted our system of government and introduced their so-called democracy. If the Europeans had left us to grow at our own pace, we won't be seeing all the corruption in our Motherland.
Inajoggor, USA

Chief/ kinship in my native Ghana has been more democratic and accountable than its Western parliamentary/ military counterparts. Our system deserves to be preserved.
Zac, Canada (Ghana)

The monarchy is something that belongs to the past

Teame, Eritrean in Sweden
The monarchy is something that belongs to the past. It is not something that will help the people of Africa overcome many of their problems. What Africa needs most of all is democracy. The mismanagement, corruption and serious lack of will to improve the lives of the people will continue as long as the lack of democracy continues.
Teame, Eritrean in Sweden

I think it is a matter of pot luck whether an undemocratic country is run by a benevolent or malevolent leader. The benevolent ones will educate the people and allow democracy to emerge on demand. I am not sure that "instant democracy" is really a cure-all. It seems that Monarchs/ Chiefs etc do have a role in providing stability during the transition to genuine democracy. It also seems that the world is becoming far less tolerant of those leaders who are not acting in the interests of their people, whatever the political system.
Garth, Zimbabwe

Uganda can also boast of restoration of monarchs in this regime. But these are only limited to cultural and tribal influences. The monarchy has no political influence at all. Any efforts to influence politics and state governance is viewed as "going beyond their boundaries".
Grace Akello, Uganda

On the face of it, the monarchy system seems good and possibly an option for the troubled African leadership. The problem with it is that there is an assumption that a certain group or clan is best able to rule others forever and there are no mechanisms to reverse or even modify the system. Furthermore, there is no independent method of checks and balances where any aggrieved party can seek redress. If one decides to be a dictator, then his/ her subjects will have to suffer in silence for as long as he/ she is in power. Surely that is not the type of leadership Africa needs in the 21st century.
Gastone Rusiha, Rwanda

The monarchy is the glue that binds the Moroccan people

Amine, Morocco/ USA
A major problem facing Morocco is the threat of Muslim extremists. The Islamist movement in Morocco has gained a lot of momentum over the past years and will gain more ground in the future. Perhaps, the only obstacle to their ascension is the fact that the Moroccan Monarchy claims to be a direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad and therefore is viewed by the majority of the population as not only legitimate, but quasi-divine. As long as this is the case, the Islamic threat won't go far. The monarchy is the glue that binds the Moroccan people. And since the country is in a transitional phase right now, there needs to be a strong base of power that has familiarity with Morocco, an institution that is rooted in tradition and that is respected by the majority of Moroccans. Development might not occur as rapidly as some may wish, but as long as the Monarchy is in power it will happen, slowly but surely.
Amine, Morocco/ USA

My candid opinion is that reintroducing a monarchical system in Africa can stem the spread of ethnic conflicts that is posing a major threat to the survivability of our fragile states. I think a constitutional monarchy can be a good idea - I mean what's wrong with the British monarchy?
Hindowa Momoh, Sierra Leone

Is the monarchy good news for Europe?
Dawit, Ethiopia

The tradition of a King or Paramount Chief is as old as Africa itself

Steve, USA
The tradition of a King or Paramount Chief is as old as Africa itself. Through this, customs and traditions are maintained which allows cohesion throughout the group. Only those who would wish to destabilise Africa would wish to see an end to this tradition. Chiefs elected by elders ensure that the best interests of the group are followed and the ruler most likely to govern wisely elected. This is far better than a system which allows the likes of Mugabe to come to power!
Steve, USA

What we Africans need is a democratically elected government, not those monarchs who claim to have been elected by God and exercise the worst form of dictatorship. Take the late Emperior of Ethiopia (Haileselasie), for example. Under his dictatorial rule, the majority of the people of Ethiopia experienced the worst form of repression as they were sold with land, which is a form of slavery never seen in other parts of the world. To add insult to injury, Haileselassie claimed on the world arena that he stood for freedom and the abolition of slavery. May God save Africa from Haileselasie type, so-called king dictators and liars.
Saba, Ethiopia

Whether it is democracy, monarchy or something else, in the final analysis the question is, which system will deliver sound public policies, a good balance between social policies and market freedom and increase the standard of living of its citizens? The answer can only be clear in a context of time and space. For example, Morocco at the moment enjoys the combination of both. Anyone who's familiar with the socio-economic dynamics of the country would agree that this is the perfect system - for now. The government was elected by the people and the king enjoys the support of more than 90% of the population. He is admired and loved by the whole country. If that is not democracy what is?
Adil, USA

In my opinion, examples have shown that a king can serve his country better than any president or elected person - especially in our Third World and developing countries.
Abdelaziz Bennouna, Morocco

I think that the constitutional monarchy is a good thing that helps to improve the image of a country

Dereje, Ethiopia
My country has never been as influential in Africa and around the world as it was during the reign of the late Emperor. Don't get me wrong, I don't want that kind of regime to come back but I think that the constitutional monarchy is a good thing that helps to improve the image of a country.
Dereje, Ethiopia

Of course it is beyond doubt that the most representative (and therefore the most desirable) form of government is one which allows the people a free choice in free and fair elections. However, our situation is so desperate that even this has become a luxury; and an unaffordable one for that matter. It therefore should not matter what we choose to call our leaders - presidents, kings, chiefs, monarchs or even gods. What matters to me is whether s/he is able (or indeed willing) to put the well being of our suffering and helpless people before any other selfish considerations.
Ubong Effeh, UK (Nigerian)

The question we need to ask is whether these monarchs ARE the choice of the African people. We were told that Saddam Hussein was the Iraqi choice, when in reality he massacred 50,000 Iraqis who opposed his rule.
Kamran Kiyani, USA

Why should what has been good for the West be bad news for Africa? Monarchy in the West may have been rendered less relevant by the development of the modern state, but it serves as a symbol of unity, stability and continuity of the state. In Africa, where the modern state may not be as developed as in the West, the monarchy will still serve as a powerful symbol of identification.
Anthony Musonda, Zambia, now in Germany

Monarchy is the worst form of dictatorship for Africa. The system exploits the majority while benefiting the few kin and friends of the king. We not only need to reject it but also to abolish it for good. What Africa needs is representative governments that are chosen by the people, not monarchs that have hundreds in their family branch to drain the scarce resources of the country. We no longer need to bleed for the sake of a few monarchs that dominated the politics and religion of the continent for centuries.
Eyob Tadesse, Ethiopian in USA

What is good for Africans is good for Africa! We Africans do not interfere with your politics and your choice. Whether it is democracy or monarch or chief - it is the choice of the people of Africa.
Faisal Bilaadi, USA

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See also:

30 Jul 00 | Africa
Moroccan celebrates throne day
24 Jul 99 | Africa
Testing time for new king
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