At least 9000 Africans lost their lives from election related violence in the last decade. The highest fatalities were recorded in Ivory Coast’s 2011 post election violence which claimed an estimated 3,000 lives. Post election violence in Kenya’s 2007 elections left at least 1,300 dead.
Immediate past President of Nigeria and recently appointed Chair of the Common-wealth election observer mission to Tanzania Dr Goodluck Jonathan, was celebrated on his recent visit to Tanzania as `a hero of free and fair election in Africa’, `a democrat who has pointed the way forward for Africa’, and an African leader who `may very well have averted bloodshed that is characteristic of incumbent leaders who cling to power’. Hopefully other Presidents in the continent are watching. There is a political life and a wider reaching and more influential role after a Presidential role.
The African Union has just voted to take a tougher stand on Burundi. The current President’s decision to run for a third term unconstitutionally is creating violence with significant humanitarian consequences; over 127,000 Burundians have fled the country.
While watching Burundi, we are keeping an eye on Central Africa Republic where the October 18, 2015 elections were postponed to 2016 due to ongoing conflict and instability. We are glad that Ivory Coast voted its President in for another five years without bloodshed. We note concerns from observers that the elections were not fair and free, but right now we are more concerned with saving lives. We cannot continue to shed the blood of Africans in the misuse and abuse of democracy.
By Choice Ufuoma Okoro
Photo: Courtesy of Vanguard Newspaper, Nigeria