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Bamako, Dakar and Africa’s political mixed grill

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If a week is too long in politics, as is often suggested, last week might prove the longest in Africa's recent history. Not that the two events of last week, the military coup in Mali and the defeat of a recalcitrant incumbent in Senegal in a democratic election are totally strange, but they are certainly not common in Africa’s political life at least in recent times. Curiously, the two countries' fate was intertwined at the dawn of independence from France in 1960. Mali's independence leader, the venerable and socialist-dynamo, Modibbo Keita led the country with a lot of promise for greatness but was cut short by a coup organized by Major Moussa Traore in 1968. Traore established a corrupt dictatorship until he was removed in another coup, more than two decades later. The coup leader was no other than the current ousted president of the country, Mr. Amadou Toumani Toure. But Toure earned universal respect when he organized the shortest political transition that lasted under one year, ushering in the elected government of Alpha Konare. When Konare ended his tenure in 2002, Toumani won a democratic contest and became the elected president. He was just a month to the end of his second and last term in office when the soldiers struck last week. The mainly junior and middle ranking officers who staged the coup said their major grouse was that the military has been ill-equipped to contain the Touareg insurgency in the North, a rebellion that became more ferocious after most of the Touareg fighters who backed the late Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi returned home following the collapse of the regime. The soldiers who staged the coup said that they have suffered heavy losses from the insurgency.
From this, we can deduce that if the reason given by the coupists are to be believed, it is more for negligence of the military that the coup was staged. In our view, while the interest of the military, as every institutional group, constitute a legitimate concern which government must attend, it is however, not enough to torpedo a popularly elected government in the interest of a mere segment of society, no matter how powerful and influential. However, we concede that a runaway insurgency like the one staged by the Touareg rebels could pose an existential threat to the stability of the country.
While we identify with the widespread emotions to rein-in the coup and forestall its domino effect on other countries in the region, we vehemently oppose military intervention to reverse it. Just like the ousted leader did in his own days, the current coupists could be encouraged to organize a short transition, in which they will only feature as referees.
Senegal is considered widely a success story after Abdoulaye Wade's unconstitutional third term was thwarted. But we ask, if Wade has been genuinely popular and had won the election, would he be justified to have undermined the Constitution, re-write it  and submit himself for political contest? We are at a loss over the universal praise for Wade for accepting defeat in an election  he was not even eligible to contest in the first place.
For the uncanny desire to undermine the constitutional process, Wade seriously injured the democratic process in Senegal and more specifically, undermined his own party from presenting a candidate in the election. In our view, Wade is no hero. We admit that he did something uncommon, accepting a defeat by the opposition, something we in Nigeria have never known in our entire political history. We salute the president-elect, Macky Sall and urge him to be president of all Senegalese as he has pledged.

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