POPULAR UPRISINGS IN AFRICA
By Paul Ndiho
Demonstrations led by young adults, the unemployed, professional organizations and religious groups are now a driving force for political change across Africa.
Africa’s political leaders are paying more attention to changes in their ranks due to popular uprisings, despite deadly crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters by government security services. In recent years, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, and Sudan, have all witnessed major political change due to sustained mass protests.
After lengthy and difficult negotiations, Sudan’s ruling military council and pro-democracy leaders signed a constitutional declaration on Sunday, paving the way for a transition to civilian rule after more than seven months of demonstrations and violence. Under the agreement, signed in the capital, Khartoum, a joint civilian-military ruling body will oversee the formation of a civilian government and parliament to govern for a three-year transition period leading to democratic elections.
“We have entered these negotiations as partners in national justice. And we have exited these negotiations as one team. Our concern is the whole of Sudan. We have come out after the national will has been victorious. The result is that there is no winner or loser because the interest of the nation stands above all in this agreement.”
Protest movement leader Ahmed Rabie signed the declaration at a ceremony attended by African Union and Ethiopian mediators. The declaration was the result of tense negotiations between the leaders of mass protests, which erupted last December against the three-decade rule of President Omar al-Bashir, and the generals who ousted him in April.
“This constitutional declaration, which has just been signed, opens a new page in the history of our nation. It constructs a new milestone for this revolution. It constructs the atmosphere and path for the making of the establishment of a transitional government, which will look to the demands of the revolution, to which Sudan has given the blood of its dear sons and daughters.”
Hundreds of people celebrated in the streets, dancing, chanting revolutionary songs, waving national flags and sounding horns.
In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, 95-year-old was forced to resign as President in November 2017. His resignation came a week after the army, and his former political allies moved against him, ending four decades of rule by a man who turned from independence hero to typical strongman.
Wild celebrations broke out in the capital Harare – People danced and cheered as they heard the news, alongside members of the military.
In the Gambia, a similar popular uprising in January 2017, triggered the exodus of long-leader time leader Yahya Jammeh, after he refused to step down and hand over power to Adama Barrow who won the 2016 presidential election. Under “Operation Restore Democracy” — The Economic Community of West African States decided to intervene militarily in the Gambia. The intervention ousted Jammeh, who had seized power in a 1994 coup — and had vowed to rule the West African nation of 1.8 million people for “a billion years.” Before fleeing into exile in Equatorial Guinea, Jammeh ruled the Gambia with an iron fist, amassing unexplained wealth, while the majority of the population lived in poverty. In his wake, Jammeh left a fleet of presidential planes and luxury cars. Now the government is looking to sell those items to raise millions of dollars for the country’s health and education systems.
In Burkina Faso five years ago, a popular revolt played out on the streets of the capital, Ouagadougou, as thousands of protesters and activists stormed the country’s parliament as MP’s prepared to vote to allow long-ruling President Blaise Compaore extend his 27-year-rule.
The mass demonstrations lasted two days and marked a turning point in the country’s history, which ended with Compaore being ousted and forced to flee. He currently resides in exile in neighboring Ivory Coast, where he has become a citizen. Ivory Coast refuses to extradite him to Burkina Faso.