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from Africa: March of change
BBC News Africa
April 05, 2013
Pick any year
in any decade and we would have been here before, with a month in
Africa ending with a disputed election, a new constitution that
could keep a man in power until he is 99 and a new rebellion.
Yet look closer
at the events of March and it delivers a more hopeful landscape.
A new Kenyatta
is at the helm of Kenya, a country that has so often given us cause
for concern with her erratic politics and uncertain destiny.
Before the vote,
we talked of ethnic groups repeating the
dreadful events of 2007-2008 when more than one thousand people
with divided loyalties died.
there was concern about what the justice police would make of a
winning candidate wanted by his people but accused by the International
Criminal Court in The Hague, and if the loser would take his fight
for a recount beyond the courts and back to the streets.
But there was
no drama, the courts gave the election victory to Uhuru Kenyatta
and declared the fourth Kenyan president since the republic was
born nearly 49 years ago to have been "validly elected"
in a "free, fair, transparent and credible" manner.
conceded gracefully despite the chants of "No Raila, No Peace"
from those supporters who could not bear to lose. Regardless of
his misgivings over the court's verdict, he reaffirmed his faith
in the Kenyan constitution and flung his doubt, or sour grapes,
on the demanding altar of peace.
Zimbabwe did not have Kenya's queues but a referendum
on a new constitution passed off with overwhelming support from
all parties - including President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF - a constitution
that will now limit presidential rule to two five-year terms amongst
other nuggets of democratic expression.
So with Kenya
about to meet her fourth president since independence, Zimbabwe
could have the same president until 2023 should Mr Mugabe win the
next two elections, because the new document looks eagerly forward,
This may not
have been the "democracy in action" Western donors wanted.
democracy is a multi-thorned rose - it will deliver those wanted
by justice for alleged human rights abuses as leaders and cannot
always guarantee security against a coup or rebellion.
In any case,
our history is littered with examples of coup leaders who, once
in power, gave more hope than their predecessors.
And the Central
African Republic showed us all what the single-minded intentions
of one man can do and the flight of President Francois Bozize and
the advent of the Moscow-educated Michel Djotodia as a new ruler
reminded us of the fluctuating fortunes of those who dare to take
up the mantle of leadership.
beyond the political in March with the election of a new pontiff
and a new archbishop of Canterbury promising new beginnings.
faithful, rising every year in both the Catholic and Anglican flocks,
will be hoping for much from these two men, Pope Francis and Archbishop
the role of women and dwindling Western congregations embroiling
the churches, Africa hopes the Vatican will look more to the Volta
and Lambeth Palace to Lusaka Cathedral for their cues.
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