Friday, January 28, 2011

West Africa seems likely to be hit by Jasmine’s smell

As protestors in Egypt continue to push out dictator Hosni Mubarak out of office after three decades in office, anti dictator activists in West Africa are keeping their fingers under lock to see if the dose of the Jasmine will surely spread across their region. Days of protests have left the rest of the world to watch in awe, as people still are in shock if the events are real or fiction. But as night fell and the skies continue to be darkened, protestors also became more emboldened and expressed their determination to continue the demonstrating till Hosni Mubarak is flashed out.

And as Egypt becomes the second country in North Africa to face unrest immediately after Tunisia-the architect of what has become known as the Jasmine Revolution- people are now singling out dictatorial regimes in the continent. The list certainly runs tall: Zimbabwe, Gabon, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Morocco, Swaziland, Central African Republic, Uganda, Sudan, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Togo etc. The list surely is tall but the jasmine must be spread on regional basis. Whilst North Africa obviously becomes the birth of such a revolution, people are now looking further across sub of the Sahara to West Africa for a spread of the jasmine. Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Togo surely come to mind.

Though Togo appears to be heading to a somewhat reform, it is all cosmetic. Both Burkina Faso and Cameroon need the jasmine flavor more than anyone other regimes in the sub-region. Cote D’Ivoire’s case is pretty much different, though I’m confident it sure will not that as well. But the two French speaking countries have had dictatorial regimes that are impervious to change and free speech, clamping down heavily on dissent. Corruption, human rights abuses and massive unemployment are very deeply nailed into the hearts of the millions of citizens in these countries who live on less than a dollar a day.

The increasing levels of poverty very much contrast the affluent and gluttonous lifestyles of the leadership of the autocratic regimes. Cameroon dictatorial leader Paul Biya has refused to listen to wisdom to reform, as he continues to use his position to plunder the resources in his country. A day’s makeover of his wife is ten times the live savings of a Cameroonian who has served in the civil service for many than three decades of his life. The same could be said about Burkina Faso, where Blaise Compoare has spent decades in office plundering the resources of his country at the expense of the already oppressed. The two dictators are obviously perfect target for the revolution.

Meanwhile in Egypt, a protester tweeted to the BBC the following soon after Mubarak finished a midnight broadcast: "We want a resignation speech from Mubarak, nothing else will satisfy us." His broadcast was the first after he pig headedly turned a blind eye and ear to the voices on the streets. It was his first speech since protestors took to the streets in almost a week, leading to the destruction of properties and scores of casualties. Events in Egypt are still shocking especially when one considers the brutish nature of Mubarak’s regime that had been sustained by an equally brutish security force. The protest comes on the heels of a similar one in Tunisia which led to the collapse of the twenty three year old regime of dictator, Ben Ali. Protestors in that country stood to the grounds despite the brutish nature of the regime.

They took the fight to them and at the end of the day, the same security regime turned around in support of the people. The peoples defiant is what is providing an incentive to ordinary Egyptians who now feel embolden to take the fight to a regime that had not only deprived them of jobs but sealed their lips to free expression.

There are countless numbers of activists locked behind bars without trial, as Mubarak, who has the backing of the US, appears to be grooming his son,Gamal, to take over. Obviously overwhelmed by the momentum from the protestors the government shut down communication links, hoping to prevent people from spreading the message of the protest around, via social network. That did not deter protestors to stay up in the streets despite the imposition of curfew.

The embattled dictator is hanging on the support of the US government to hold on to power. It is however clear that support is because of Egypt’s recognition of Israel as an existing state, a position which is in avariance with other Arab countries in the Middle East. However, the US government is appears unwilling to have his back this time around: “Surely, there will be difficult days to come, but the United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work with their government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free and more hopeful," Mr. Obama said.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has also backed calls for reform: "I think what we need is reform in Egypt. We support reform and progress in the greater strengthening of their democracy and civil rights and the rule of law.

"Clearly there are grievances that people have and they need to be met and matched. "I don't think it's in anyone's interest that people are being killed on the streets of Egypt as we speak, and so I hope the violence will cease.

"But clearly, when you have people who have grievances and problems that want them responded to, it's in all our interests that these countries have stronger rule of law, stronger rights, stronger democracy."

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