It is worthy to note that the revolt against the apartheid regime of South Africa and the struggle for independence across the continent was legal, because our countries were being occupied illegally.
However, of late, Africa has seen an upsurge in systematic coups undertaken by civilians in violent protests across North Africa.
Such uprisings have been taken to be legitimate by many especially those people involved and the international community as well. Frankly, it is an open secret that the forceful removal of any government especially an elected government is an illegitimate act.
The international community and regional leaders would not have wasted any time to denounce a military takeover of a government, why because it has been widely deemed illegal.
But when citizens turned violently against an elected government, defying the laws of their country and being some how unpatriotic, calls are made to the government in question to respect the rights of its citizens and not to resort to violence in bringing the protest to an end.
Respecting the rights of citizens in this case is fundamental, and we support it, but the question remains “has it been instituted in any constitution, the African Charter or the UN Declaration that citizens have a right to revolt against their governments without restraint?” At least peaceful demonstrations are acceptable.
|Protest in Tunis|
We’ve seen Tunisians succeed in ousting their President Ben Ali; Egyptians followed the same steps though they are yet to have President Hosni Mubarak step down; Algeria adopted similar methods and have since seemed to have failed in their bid; and now Sudan (North) is following suit.
|Protest in Egypt|
Pertinent among the basis of such revolts are blamed on the lack of jobs, price hikes of consumer commodities, lack of free expression, prevailing hunger and poverty and the overstaying of their presidents in power.
The above queries are fundamental to the lives of those affected in respective countries and across the continent, and should be provided for by our respective African governments to their citizens.
However, our stance that these uprisings may be illegal, does not mean that we do not support the demands of our fellow African citizens, may be the way in which it is being handled is very inappropriate.
Calling on your government to fulfill the above is critical, but you may be doing more harm than good if you resort to destroying public properties that have cost millions with people loosing their lives in the process.
On the contrary, the protests in the North will serve as a wake-up call to those leaders across Africa who has been paying deaf ears to calls to institute a presidential term limit.
In order to avoid these protests becoming a phenomenon across the continent in the near feature, the African Union should work towards establishing presidential term limits for the majority of African countries that are yet to embrace it.
“The most crucial object of governance in whatever time is the happiness of citizens.”