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Leave when your time is up, Annan tells African leaders

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam (With agency report)
20 April 2016   |   3:00 am
Former Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Kofi Annan, has urged African leaders to leave when their mandated time is up.
Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan

• Nigeria lobbies African ministers for top UN post

Former Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Kofi Annan, has urged African leaders to leave when their mandated time is up and to avoid excluding opposing voices if elections are to cease contributing to conflicts on the continent.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s aspiration to the vice presidency of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) has received a major boost as the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) was officially informed of its candidature yesterday.

Annan, a renowned international diplomat said that while unconstitutional changes to government on the continent had reduced, exclusionary politics threatened to reverse the gains made. “I think Africa has done well, by and large the coups have more or less ended, generals are remaining in their barracks, but we are creating situations which may bring them back,” the Nobel laureate said in an interview at the fifth Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa.

According to him, “If a leader doesn’t want to leave office, if a leader stays on for too long, and elections are seen as being gamed to suit a leader and he stays term after term after term, the tendency may be the only way to get him out is through a coup or people taking to the streets.

“Neither approach can be seen as an alternative to democracy, to elections or to parliamentary rule. Constitutions and the rules of the game have to be respected.”

Annan, the keynote speaker at the forum this year, said winner-take-all approaches to elections on the continent had the effect of leaving out citizens for holding an opposing view, raising tensions around elections.

According to an agency report, the former UN scribe, who chairs the Africa Progress Panel and the Nelson Mandela-founded The Elders grouping, said he had been the first to tell the African Union not to accept coup leaders among their midst (during an OAU heads of state summit in Lusaka in 2001).

Annan also said that solutions to the problems the continent has must come from within. However, the continent must build up its ability to do so, including in financing its institutions.

“We cannot always pass a hat around and insist we want to be sovereign, we want to be independent. We should lead and get others to support us—that support will be much more forthcoming when they see how serious and committed we are.”

The forum, now in its fifth year, is an inspiration of the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and is organised by the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) of Addis Ababa University. It is chaired by former Nigeria president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and seeks to provide a platform for current and former leaders to interact with key stakeholders in an informal setting to tackle contemporary issues facing the continent.

Speaking to over 40 ministers of the environment and heads of country delegations at the sixth special session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment in Cairo yesterday, Alhaji Ibrahim Usman Jibril, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment, expressed the country’s delight to present Mrs. Amina Mohammed for nomination as one of the two Vice Presidents from Africa on the bureau of the UNEA II.

UNEA was formed following a call by world leaders at the UN conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil in June 2012. The aim of the UNEA is to strengthen and upgrade United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, and by establishing universal membership in its governing council.

Jibril hinged Mohammed’s nomination on her eminent status as one of the architects of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and her focal commitment to the African cause in the global effort to achieve sustainable development as well as the environmental dimension of Agenda 2063.