Civic group in Nigeria: – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) says badly organised and manipulation of elections is not so much better than military overthrow of government just as the Rights group said removing political dynasties as has been achieved in Gabon is justifiable since in the first instance, democracy was unavailable.
HURIWA which in any event has asked the military putschists in Gabon to speedily midwife a transparent, free and fair transition to civilian democracy, also said military coups in west Africa show that the Economic community of west African States (ECOWAS) has failed and needs fundamental tinkering so it plays its role to defend democracy. The Rights group said ECOWAS failed to ensure that elections in its member states are not manipulated by incumbents therefore making room for the sabotaging of democracy and eventual military coups. ECOWAS, rather than sanction Gabon, should have a rethink and set up a think tank to modify her ground rules to classify rigged or manipulated Presidential election as a coup.
HURIWA said: “We are of the conviction that the government that has just been removed in Gabon can’t possibly be classified as a constitutional democracy, because it is inconceivable that just one family will continue to govern Gabon for over four decades and then keep sustaining the governance fraud through contraptions defined by them as routine elections.”
“Elections that are devoid of opportunity for the electorate to freely exercise their democratic franchise and then for the true outcome of the free, fair and transparent electoral process allowed to reach its full course can’t possibly be classified as a democracy. For that, we in HURIWA endorse the displacement of this long standing political dynasty in Gabon. We support this removal of the Bongo dynasty but we also want the military to set up a short transition programme of not more than 6 months to organise free, fair and transparent poll to restore full constitutional government.”
HIRIWA revalled that Army officers have appeared on national television in Gabon to say they have taken power. They said they were annulling the results of Saturday’s election, in which President Ali Bongo was declared the winner.
Earlier, the discredited electoral commission said Mr Bongo had won just under two-thirds of the votes in an election the opposition argued was fraudulent.
HURIWA said it is heartwarming that his overthrow would end his family’s 53-year hold on power in Gabon just as the Rights group lamented that it is unimaginable that Gabon is one of Africa’s major oil producers, while nearly 90% of the country is covered by forests but poverty is at its highest peak due to corruption and lack of good governance.
HURIWA recalled that the soldiers who announced the apparent coup said they were from the Committee of Transition and the Restoration of Institutions and represent security and defence forces in the country.
One of the soldiers said on TV channel Gabon 24: “We have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime.” This, he added, was down to “irresponsible, unpredictable governance resulting in a continuing deterioration in social cohesion that risks leading the country into chaos”.
The sounds of loud gunfire could be heard in the country’s capital, Libreville, following the broadcast.
A resident in the western city of Port Gentil told the BBC World Service’s Newsday programme he was woken by a friend who told him about the soldier’s broadcast. “There was a communique being played again and again on the two national TV channels,” they said, adding that it appeared that all parts of Gabon’s defence and security forces were involved.
HURIWA has therefore asked ECOWAS and the African Union to look inwards and introduce steps to immediately recognise disputed and manipulated, fraudulent Presidential elections in member States are to henceforth be classified as coup and therefore military interventions of ECOWAS and AU is required to restore orderliness and constitutional order. HURIWA said as long as this is not done and the continental and sub-regional bodies continuously look the other way as General elections in the member states are fraudulently stolen by incumbents, military coups will sooner, than later become very popular which is totally uncalled for and must be avoided.