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Global issue 12

Inbox OUT OF AFRICA Kennedy Abwao Africa’s democrats need to watch the soldiers P the democratic achievements of the state media consistently referring to him Ethiopia’s inevitable and unstoppable tran-hasHailemariamofrisetheaccident,communicated a profound message aboutdorse him for the post, Hailemariam hadbeen operating from political limbo, witholitical power changeovers in thelast few months have showcased some African countries and revealed the as “deputy” or “interim” prime minister. sition to democracy, according to Profes- immense weakness of state institutions in “The constitution was clear; Article 74 sor Alemayehu Mariam of California State others. states the deputy prime minister would as- University. The delicate balance of power between sume power upon the death of the prime Others say there was a need to balance the civilian authorities and the military minister,” said Dr Mehari Taddele Maru, power. Tsedale Lemma, publisher of the still stands out as the most potent source of head of the African Confl ict Prevention Addis Standard magazine, said: “The com- potential chaos in a continent where force- Programme at the Institute of Security ing to power of Hailemariam is a result of ful power seizures are commonplace. This Studies, Addis Ababa. a clear vision for the country and a clear year’s military coups in Mali and Guinea- succession plan by the late Prime Minister Bissau show the deeper internal strife that Meles… The new prime minister is a sea- can be unleashed where a properly estab- soned technocrat and he is not new to poli- lished democratic culture is absent. tics but there were fears that because the Even in Malawi, Ghana and Ethiopia, military command was dominated by the where peaceful transitions have followed Tigray, they diplomatically moved to ap- the death of incumbent leaders, analysts point a mixture of people from other ethnic say the role of the military and the civilian groups. This was done to soothe fears that institutions is particularly critical. the army will not do the bidding of the new Ghana provides good lessons for Africa’s government.” democracy. The people feel empowered Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, the executive during an election, their passion is refl ected director of the Accra-based Institute for in their right to vote, the soldiers accept the Democratic Governance, gave his view principles to play by the rules of democ- that the transitions in Ethiopia and Malawi racy and good governance, and the judici- appeared to lack critical ingredients of de- ary keeps petty politics out of its decisions. mocratisation. “In Ghana, we have gotten In July, in keeping with the tradition of its beyond that,” he claimed. “We have shifted post-military era, Ghana witnessed a fl aw- from a belief that it is possible to change less transfer of power hours after the death the politics. The fundamental decision is to of President John Atta Mills. believe in the system.” In Malawi, following the death in April “The bottom line is the willpower among of President Bingu wa Mutharika, former The gun behind the ballot box the political elite to prevent a return of the Vice-President Joyce Banda was almost military rule. There was a lot of politi- robbed of power by cadres of the former After winning the ruling party’s Council cal instability, which prevented the tenure ruling Democratic Progressive Party, who vote with a convincing majority and having of elected governments when the military attempted unsuccessfully to engineer a served with distinction as Ethiopia’s head came to power. Its rule was marked by eco- behind-the-scenes transition. In this case, of foreign policy for more than two years, nomic decline and retrogression,” Akwetey the military rescued Malawi from an over- the new man at the helm was adequately said, adding that the keys to an entrenched drawn and potentially public battle for the prepared to govern, but his ascension to democratic culture in any society are judi- presidency. power was not easy. Dr Mehari pointed cial independence, the role of the electoral And in Ethiopia, after the death of Prime out that Hailemariam is familiar with the body, the place of the military and the role Minister Meles Zenawi, his deputy, Haile- internal party dynamics but hails from a of political parties. mariam Desalegn, quietly engineered a “peripheral area” of Ethiopia and is a Prot- Power handovers in Africa will always reshuffl e of the top military command to estant Christian in charge of an Orthodox involve intricate political undertakings. But bring about what one analyst called “an eth- Christian majority and a Muslim minority. having the support of the army still seems nic balance” before assuming power on 21 “Meles brought him to think about Ethio- to be a crucial part of the deal. September after a much-delayed swearing- pia’s foreign policy. He was groomed for in ceremony devoid of any military pomp. six years, part of it as an adviser, but even Taking power after weeks of uncertainty in death, Meles seems to be running Ethio- over whether the ruling Ethiopian People’s pia,” he added. Kennedy Abwao is Addis Ababa Bureau Chief of the Pan African News Agency Revolutionary Democratic Front would en- Whether it happened by design or by global fourth quarter 2012 www.global-briefing.org l11


Global issue 12
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