Posts tagged ‘Cameroon’

08/29/2011

Sub-Saharan African Dictators Must Go

Following the demise of North African dictators in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, President Obama should now focus on greater democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa, where many have held office for more than 10 years, and well beyond the growing international standard of no more than two 5-year terms.

CAMEROON: Paul Biya has been in public office in Cameroon since the early 1960s. He became Prime Minister in 1975 and President in 1982. He seized control of his political party in 1983, drove his rival into exile, convicted him of plotting a coup, and sentenced him to death. Biya won 99% of the vote in 1984, because he had no opponent. He survived a coup, before being re-elected in 1988. In a multi-party contest in 1992, Biya claimed a plurality, despite cries of fraud. After a two-term constitutional limit was imposed in 1996, Biya won 92% of the vote in 1997, because his opponents boycotted the election. He won another 7-year term in 2004, again under a cloud of suspicion. Biya called term-limits undemocratic in 2008, and simply removed them. It’s now time for the people of Cameroon to remove Biya.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA: Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo seized power in 1979 in a bloody coup, sentenced the previous leader to death, and became president. After winning a full 7-year term in 1982, he was re-elected in 1989, as the only candidate on the ballot. He claimed nearly 100% of the vote in 1996, 2002 and 2009, in contests marred by fraud. He keeps control by denying a free press and an opposition party. Obiang considers himself a god. It is time for the Equatorial Guineas to end his 32-year rule.

ANGOLA: Jose Eduardo dos Santos, became Angola’s second president in 1979. He won a plurality in the 1992 election, under allegations of fraud, and caused the civil war to continue. He said in 2001 he would step down before the next presidential election, but remained by amending the constitution to allow his ruling party to pick the leader. After 32 years, Santos has to go.

ZIMBABWE: Robert Mugabe, age 87, has been president of Zimbabwe since 1980, when the white government collapsed. Media controls were created in 2002, to ensure ongoing election victories. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested in 2003, as Mugabe was accused of running a dictatorship. When Tsvangirai claimed victory in 2008, Mugabe managed to stay in office by creating a power-sharing arrangement in 2009. After 31 years in power, it’s time for Mugabe to step aside.

UGANDA: Yoweri Museveni has been Ugandan President since the prior government was overthrown in 1986. He promised a return to democracy, but held no election for 10 years, and then claimed 75% of the vote in 1996. In 2001, he accumulated 69%, in a race that was not free or fair, according to the Ugandan Supreme Court. Afterward, he said he would not run again, but he then abolished term limits and took 59% of the vote in 2006. He was re-elected again in 2011, with 68%, a tally disputed by outsiders. After 25 years, it’s time for Museveni to leave.

BURKINA FASO: Blasise Compaore of Burkina Faso came to power in 1987 in a bloody coup, during which the incumbent was executed. His opponents boycotted the 1991 election. After he was “re-elected” in 1998, the constitution was amended in 2000 to reduce presidential terms from 7 to 5 years, and to limit presidents to a total of two terms. Compaore argued the changes did not applied retroactively, so he ran and won again in 2005, and was re-elected in 2010. After 24 years, it’s time Compaore left.

Three more Africans have ruled since the 1990s, including: Yahya Jammeh of Gambia (1994-); Denis Sassau Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville (1997-); and Pakalitha Mosisili of Lesotho (1998-).

President Obama is uniquely qualified to speak directly to the African people regarding the virtues of term limits. He should encourage the U.S. Congress and the EU to suspend all aid to any country ruled by leaders who have been in power more than 10 years, until they choose new leaders, and adopt term limits.

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04/21/2011

Nigeria: On The Muslim-Christian Divide

Nigeria held a presidential election in which incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the South, sought to continue in office as the replacement for the previous president, who was a Muslim from the North. The issue now is whether the Africans along the Christian-Muslim divide in Nigeria can live in peace?

Africa is divided along the Sahara, between Arabs Muslims and Christian Blacks. Along the north and west side of the divide, 13 nations have large percentages of Muslims: Morocco (99%), Algeria (99%), Tunisia (98%), Libya (97%), Egypt (90%), Somalia (99%), Djibouti (94%), Mauritania (99%), Mali (90%), Niger (80%), Senegal (94%), Gambia (90%) and Guinea (85%).

West Africa also has 3 states where the Muslim percentage is only about half, but they greatly outnumber the Christians: Sierra Leone (60%), Burkina Faso (50%) and Guinea-Bissau (40%).

On the south and east side of the divide, 20 states have few Muslims: South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Angola, Rwanda, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome, Zambia (5%), Kenya (10%), Swaziland (10%), Burundi (10%), Congo-Kinshasa (10%), Uganda (12%), Malawi (13%), Central African Rep. (15%) and Mozambique (18%).

There are also 2 West African states where Christians greatly outnumber Muslims: Cape Verde and Ghana.

This leaves 11 African Muslim-Christian battleground states, along the sub-Saharan front line, listed below, from west to east:

Country               Muslim            Christian
Liberia                     20%                     40%
Ivory Coast            39%                     33%
Togo                         20%                     29%
Benin                        24%                     43%
Nigeria                     50%                    40%
Cameroon              20%                     35%
Chad                         53%                     34%
Sudan                   Muslim (N)      Christ (S)
Eritrea                      50%                   50%
Ethiopia                   33%                   61%
Tanzania                  35%                   30%

Many battleground states have already had conflicts. Ivory Coast had a 5-year civil war, between Southern Christians and Northern Muslims. Chad had two civil wars of 14 and 10 years, between Northern Muslims and Southern Christians. Eritrea historically was a battleground between the two faiths, and Ethiopia recently had a Holy War against Islamic forces from neighboring Somalia.

Sudan was perhaps the biggest battleground of all, where the Arab Muslims in the North, fought the black Southern Christians for 16 years, and then tried to force them to use the Arabic language and Islamic religion. After another 18 years of war, the Muslims expelled Christian missionaries and imposed Islamic Sharia law, as part of an Arabization policy. Sudan’s ultimate solution was for the Christian South to secede and become an independent state.

What about Nigeria? Will it become a battleground like Sudan, or remain united? It is the largest state in Africa, with 149 million people, and it is evenly split, as to religion and tribal heritage. 50% are Muslims from the northern Hausa Tribe; 40% are Christians from the southern and western Igbo and Yoruba Tribes.

The Nigerian Muslim-Christian conflict has flared on and off for 30 years. Islamic law was imposed in several Northern provinces in 2000, causing Igbo Christians to clash with Hausa Muslims. An Islamic leader from the northeast was assassinated in 2009. Muslims and Christians battled again last year, in the City of Jos.

Unless Nigeria is willing to splinter in two, like North and South Sudan, they will have to allow all Christians and Muslims to enjoy the free exercise of religion, and stop the provinces from establishing official religions. If they wish to remain at peace and united, they will need to respect the viewpoints of all.