UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro attacked moves by African leaders to cling to power by rigging votes or amending constitutions, saying it was time to rid the continent of tyrants.
Migiro launched the attack yesterday at an international conference in Cameroon, the central African nation whose President Paul Biya has ruled since 1982 and removed constitutional clauses that would have prevented him from standing in a 2011 poll.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to corruption, nepotism and tyranny,” Migiro told the opening ceremony of the Africa21 conference called to discuss challenges facing Africa in the 21st century.
“We cannot allow the will of the people to be thwarted by electoral fraud and constitutional changes of government or manipulation of the law to keep vested interests in power,” said Migiro, who did not mention any leader by name.
Biya was hand-picked for power by predecessor Ahmadou Ahidjo and has twice amended the constitution to remove clauses common across Africa that limit the number of terms an incumbent can serve. Biya’s political opponents have routinely accused him of poll-rigging, an accusation he denies.
African history is packed with examples of leaders remaining in office longer than expected, sometimes only to be forcibly removed.
Moves in 2009 by former Niger President Mamadou Tandja to remove limits on his term in office triggered international sanctions on the Saharan uranium-producer and led to him being deposed in a military coup in February.
Concern is growing over the possibility of unrest in Ivory Coast because of delays to an election initially scheduled for 2005. President Laurent Gbagbo cites technical and logistical reasons for the delay.
Pic: President Paul Biya of Cameroon