It seems like the concept of peaceful transition of political power in Africa is an alien notion. This century has seen a least a dozen successful or attempted coups d’états on the continent. Disputed elections in Zimbabwe, Kenya and Nigeria have drawn world wide criticism. After stealing the most recent presidential elections, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe declared recently, “Zimbabwe is mine”. Zimbabwe’s currency is worthless, schools and hospitals are shut down, and a cholera outbreak has taken the lives of over 1,000 of his citizens. Yet, he remains President, refusing to share power with Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader that easily defeated him in the first round of elections in early 2008, only to have Mugabe’s electoral commission call for a second round of voting. Mugabe won the runoff with 85% of the vote amid allegations of intimidation, kidnappings, beatings, and blatant fraud.
Zimbabwe Dictator and Present Owner Robert Mugabe
So it is fitting that today, we are alerted to yet another coup d’état attempt. This time, the lucky nation is Guinea. The impoverished West African nation of 10 million, finds itself in limbo upon the death of its authoritarian President Lansana Conté, who not surprisingly had ruled Guinea since 1984, assuming power following, you guessed it, a coup d’état. Though details remain sketchy, it has been reported that elements within the Guinean army have dissolved the nation’s constitution and its government.
Deceased Guinean President Lansana Conté
We can chalk up another success story in the evolution of African Democracy. Congratulations Guinea!