Do not hold on to power, Annan tells African leaders

By KBC reporters

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has challenged African leaders to leave office when their constitutional term comes to an end.

Annan says unless smooth leadership transition is adopted in Africa, then the continent risk losing gains of independence.

Annan says Africa leaders must learn to relinquish power when their term ends and avoid excluding opposing voices when elections are held.

Addressing the 5th Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa, at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia the former UN secretary general hailed the progress made by African countries but warned that the continent risk losing all the gains if the politics of succession are not fair.

He said  “Africa has done well, by and large the coups have more or less ended, generals are remaining in their barracks, but we are creating situations which may bring them back”.

Annan has maintained that if democracy is to be respected, then constitutions and rules of the games have to be respected.

“If a leader doesn’t want to leave office, if a leader stays on for too long, and elections are seen as being gamed to suit a leader and he stays term after term after term, the tendency may be the only way to get him out is through a coup or people taking to the streets.

“Neither approach can be seen as an alternative to democracy, to elections or to parliamentary rule. Constitutions and the rules of the game have to be respected.”

Annan believes that African problems can only be solved from within but maintains that the continent must build up its ability to do so, including trusting its institutions.

The call comes at a time the UA has given ultimatum to the ICC to fulfill a number of conditions if its members pull out.

“We cannot always pass a hat around and insist we want to be sovereign, we want to be independent. We should lead and get others to support us—that support will be much more forthcoming when they see how serious and committed we are.”

Several African leaders have declared that they will not leave office.

In neighboring Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni has been in office for more than 30 years.

While in Zimbabwe, Mugabe has been holding on to power for more than 30 years, even as he celebrates his 92nd birthday this year.


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