|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point: Debates: African|
Monday, 6 November, 2000, 16:08 GMT
Africa: Power to the people?
When General Robert Guei suspended the Electoral Commission and claimed that he had won the election, the people of Ivory Coast rose up against him.
Is this Yugoslavia-style toppling of tyrants the way forward for Africa? Or should people rely on the rule of law?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Albert Gui, Ivorian, Canada.
It is premature to say that what happened in Ivory Coast is a new way of removing dictators from power. The problem is that in most African countries the majority of the electorate are not very educated, nor properly informed about their rights. When they see a politician, they see him as a master who should be feared even when they have not done anything wrong. This atttitude therefore puts the electorate at a disadvantage to the extent that they cannot question politicians later on and make them accountable for their deeds.
Hadji Tofik, USA
Ever since independence, Africans have not realized the power they have. They have been afraid to rise up against tyrants because they did not realize that with numbers on their side, they can choose whoever they wanted to lead them. However, this is changing as Africans realize that they hold the real power. And as we enter the new millennium, the revolution in Ivory Coast is just a preview of many more such popular uprisings that would change the face of African politics forever
The belief by some African leaders that they are the only ones capable of solving the problems in their country is fundamental to this issue. This belief is linked to egotism. Even when incompetence is clearly apparent, the ego kicks in making the leaders believe they could never make mistakes.
The people must take their rights back from such despots. John F. Kennedy once said: "Civil rights are never handed to people on a silver platter. The people must reach out and seize them for their own benefit". This is the only way the African people will change the status quo.
Henry Williams, New York/Sierra Leone
I am not sure whether we should read too much into the events that occurred in Ivory Coast, it has happened before. In Mali it was student uprising that triggered the removal of that dictator Musa Taraore. The problem with African leaders is their willingness to use any force on their people for power, as recent massacre of innocent Gambian students has demonstrated. I would also applaud one of the correspondents who said that no leader can bring about development without the participation of the people. People in Africa have been deceived for a long time with this illusive notion of omnipotent leaders who can swing the magic wand and make instant changes in people's lives. Of course they are responsible of creating the right environment and policies for development to happen, but ultimately our destiny rest in our hands.
Damilola Olajide, Nigerian in Melbourne, Australia
Ndung'u Ndegwah, Kenya
Africa is decades away from the Polish, East German, and Yugoslav-style democratic uprising in the sense that there has never been any real tradition of democracy in Africa. We either elect retired military dictators or political despots with military backing. A lot more of these dictatorial African "governments" will come undone very soon, but what we replace them with is where the real problem lies.
A Zimbabwean minister a few days ago said something to the effect, "We fought hard for power. We are not going to give it up easily". In the future there will be many more fights in Africa to overthrow those who fought so hard to get into power.
African Heads of State are neo-colonialists. Some are even worse and more brutal than the old colonial masters.
The issue is no longer power being given to the people, but people taking the power they deserve.
The truth will prevail.
The people of Ivory Coast have shown the entire world that power belongs to the people. Gone are the days when criminals like Idi Amin and the likes of General Guei ran our nations upside down. The people of Ivory Coast are now on a journey to turn their nation the right side up.
Ever heard "Power to the People"?
That's Côte d'Ivoire!
Why is it taking African dictators and their cronies so long to understand that their gangster-style, one-party state governments are not going to be tolerated by the hard-working and all-suffering people of Africa. African leaders need to take example from Nelson Mandela who achieved his people's wishes and bowed down to let new blood run South Africa. What is happening in the Ivory Coast could happen in various hot-spots throughout Africa. Zimbabwe is a perfect example of a crumbling dictatorship. Mugabe is seemingly unaware that 'his people' do not want him any longer. The people of Africa must take charge of such corrupt and self-preserving dinosaurs.
Abdi Fatah, Somalian
The basic rights of man and his desire for freedom can never be totally denied. I can only applaud those who have chosen this moment to make a stand. The struggle for freedom should run rampant throughout Africa.
Certainly, the events in Ivory Coast has proved that African people are sick of leaders who see themselves as God above the people. I hope every African on the continent or abroad has learnt a great lesson on how to take care of situations like this in the future. I hope too, dictators have learnt the fact that the day they play with our intelligence is over.
Kenneth N. Ngwa, Cameroonian, Princeton, USA
Yugoslavians demonstrated to us how to deal with people who usurp power - chase them away. There is no rule of law, if that law does not guarantee the noble aspirations of the people. After Ivory Coast, I foresee a showdown in the near future in Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Gabon and Congo Brazzaville.
I strongly believe that the time has come for the mass population of the African continent to put up with tyrant leaders no longer. Even those leaders who trade in the name of democracy and respect for human rights in many other countries in the region, should know that toppling dictatorial leadership is perhaps the only option people are left with. It is an indication that power lies in the hands of the mass population and not a single individual.
I think the uprising in Ivory Coast is an example for the African continent and should be adopted as a message to other countries that live under dictatorship. The era of dictators is over, now it's time for prosperity
Christian Toglan, Togo-USA
People are forced to act this way because they are denied the right to choose who should govern them. The fact that people risk their lives is a clear testimony that they are tired of empty promises. This should be a wake up call to many leaders who think that they can get away with oppression. It's not a matter of defying rule of law but rather reclaiming what is theirs in a situation where there is no other option.
What has taken place in Ivory Coast is ground-breaking. The whole world must applaud the courage and desire for freedom displayed by the people there. As an African it gives me hope: The days of absolute power and dictatorship will come to a quick end if our desire and belief for freedom continues to overcome our fear of dictatorship. Those who died for the struggle in Ivory Coast must never be forgotten but exalted as the true believers of democracy. Their deaths gave power to the people.
Jewel Gbeh, USA
Where political incumbents do not play by the rules of free and fair elections and the judiciary is woefully hollowed-out through a system of appointment of judges that is solely in the hands of the executive and does not guarantee security of tenure for judges, and thus the independence of the judiciary, there is no rule of law for people to rely on. They have no other option but to resort to the Yugoslav style of removing the 'rascals' from power. One only hopes the events in Yugoslavia and Ivory coast have sent the right signals to other tyrants on the African continent hell-bent on sticking to power by hook or crook.
The 'demonstration effect' of people-power in Eastern Europe which also provided the impetus for democratic change on the continent in the 1990's can only be overlooked by tyrants on the African continent at their own peril.
30 Oct 00 | Africa
Ivory Coast reins in soldiers
25 Oct 00 | Africa
In pictures: Ivory Coast uprising
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Other Talking Points:
Links to other African stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy