It is three years since Blaise Campaore fled Burkina Faso to La Cote d’Ivoire after Burkinabes demonstrated against an attempt by Blaise Campaore’s government to amend the constitution so as to give him a fifth term in office.
Blaise Campaore overthrew his former ally, Thomas Sankara on October 15, 1987, a coup d’état that resulted in the death of the latter. Since then he had won elections from 1991 until 2010 – a total of four terms.
It’s no mere coincidence that after borrowing ideas from several other writers, Lord Acton, the 19th century British politician came to a conclusion that: “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men”.
From October 28 to 31, 2014, Burkinabes took to the streets of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso and other parts of the country to express their disagreement about the will of the people that had been manipulated in the past and was then about to be manipulated to extend a twenty-seven year rule to only God knows when.
The sovereign power of every nation emanates from the people. It’s unlawful that, that sovereign power is twisted to satisfy the whims and caprices of a few people who are bent on remaining in power or keeping their kith and kin in power. The silence of the people is what bolsters the action of those who manipulate the constitution.
If Burkinabes had sat down in silence and watched, Blaise Campaore and his cohorts would still have been in the helm of affairs. This action is what has encouraged Togolese to rise to the occasion and ensure that the wrong that was done in the past be corrected and then prevent a possible manipulation of the will of the people. No wonder one of the protesters on the streets of Lome, the capital of Togo, had a placard which had this inscription: “dictatorship feeds on silence and inactivity”.
Until recently, people power was not popular in Africa until it brought down the governments of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt as well as Zine Ben Ali of Tunisia. Blaise Campaore never expected that the powerful wind of people power would blow him out of Burkina Faso.
Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema is the latest to be faced with people power. Over the last couple of months the streets of Togo have been bristling with demonstrators who are demanding that the President, Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema steps down. The chickens have come home to roost. Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema has been in power since 2005 and is in his third term.
As Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Faure Gnassingbe must take cognisance of the fact that the whole world is watching every move of his. It’s clear that Faure Gnassingbe and most leaders in the sub-region and on the continent have not learnt that, the sovereign will of the people can never be taken from them.
The rise against Faure Gnassingbe is a slap in the face of those who voted him into the position of Chairperson of ECOWAS. It shows that the leaders of the sub-region don’t consider the democratic credentials of those they make a Chairperson. Isn’t it sad? The situation in Togo needs immediate attention. It’s imperative that the Heads of State in the sub-region map out diplomatic strategies to bring an end to the unfortunate events in Togo. The protestors are asking for some reforms. There’s the need to look at their demands and meet it. Togolese have been silent for the last fifty years. Isn’t that enough reason to look into the matter and address it?
A constitutional amendment that ends up keeping a government or its kith and kin in power is akin to dictatorship and an affront to good governance.
By: Alex Blege