By Owei Lakemfa
African coup generals were at work this week. It must really require geniuses to dictate to a people; so they need a lot of rest. But they sprouted from their epileptic life on Monday, October 25, 2021.
The day began with Sudanese dictator, General Abdel al-Fattah al-Burhan organising a coup to overthrow a regime he has dictated to since 2019, and, retained his powers as the Sudanese defacto leader.
That same evening, his mentor in Egypt, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi after killing over 1,000 protesters, abandoning President Mohammed Morsi to die in prison by denying him required medical care, holding thousands in detention and sentencing some to death, decided to be magnanimous.
He lifted a four-year state of emergency he had imposed in 2017 under which Egyptians were taken off the list of people who are entitled to fundamental human rights! His excuse for formalising his emergency rule were two attacks on churches. He had made no sacrifices in the Egyptian peoples protests that unseated the dictator, Hosni Mubarak, during which 846 people lost their lives.
He made no contributions in the struggle for full democracy under the Morsi administration. But opportunistically positioned himself to seize power and now thinks he can talk down on the people about patriotism and moving the country forward.
This same Monday, Colonel Assimi Goita who has two stars for each coup he has successfully executed in Mali, expelled the Special Representative of the regional Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Hamidou Boly giving him 72 hours to leave the country. The regime stated: “The government of the Republic of Mali has decided to declare the ECOWAS special representative in Mali persona non grata, in view of his actions that are incompatible with his status.”
All three trending coup plotters led neo-colonial armies that like parasites, opportunistically fed on the mass disenchantment and protests of their people. In Sudan, the people had gotten fed up with the regime of Omar al-Bashir and in 2019, held a peaceful sit-in opposite the military headquarters. The angry regime sent troops to end the protests by force, killing 127 protesters. But the Bashir government claimed it did not kill more than 87 of them.
What was important was not the number murdered but that the regime could carry out a massacre of the Sudanese people. More protests followed leading to the murder of a total 240 Sudanese.
This led to a balance of forces in the streets with the regime unable to govern any longer and the people having not taken over the reins of state power. It was at this point opportunistic elements in the military on April 11, 2019 claiming to be on the side of the people, pushed Bashir aside.
Defence Minister, Lieutenant General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, led a military council which claimed the military was not interested in being in power and that the people who had staked their lives, would determine the new civilian leadership. After a day, Auf announced he was resigning and named General Abdel al-Fattah al-Burhan as his replacement. But the people were not impressed, they demanded a transfer of power to a transitional civilian government and an end to military rule.
The military seemed to have had the impression that the people were just tired of seeing Bashir’s face, not that they are opposed to dictatorship or wanted to take their destiny in their hands. General al-Burhan dug in as Chairman of the Transitional Military Council promising to hand-over power to elected civilians within two years.
Burhan ‘s first trip as Head of State in May 2019 was to his mentor, el-Sisi, the Egyptian Pinochet. The next was to the UAE monarchy while his deputy, Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, visited the Saudi monarchy. None of these threesome are lovers of democracy or peoples’ power.
It is uncertain what the new Sudanese dictators learnt or were taught on these trips, but they came back determined to crush the peoples’ power in the streets. The generals from June 3, 2019, ordered the armed forces, special forces and the vicious militias including the infamous Janjanweed to take out the protesters. On that day, scores of protesters were murdered in Khartoum; about forty corpses dumped in the Nile River, ladies were raped in the streets and hundreds tortured.
Despite this extreme brutalisation and mass murders, the people held the streets, forcing General Burhan and his fellow-travellers to accept a transition power sharing arrangement with the civil populace. Mr. Abdalla Hamdok became Prime Minister. It was agreed that a Sovereignty Council under which al-Burhan would continue to lead for another 20 months, rather than step down as planned in February 2021, was established.
But like General Ibrahim Babangida in Nigeria who after seizing power, promised a return to civil rule in 1990, but failed, then fixed new dates of 1992, January 1993 and August 1993 until forced out of power, al-Burhan and his fellow generals have not kept to the transition date.
Finally, on Monday, General al-Burhan staged a coup against himself and retained power while detaining the civilian component of the government including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdock.
There has been worldwide condemnation of the newest coup in Africa with the United Nations Security Council wrangling for some time to reach a compromise on the ‘unacceptable’ situation in Sudan.
But coups in Africa are becoming like designer wears; African and world leaders condemn a coup if it is not from their fashion houses, or accept them if it is. For instance, the African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki has been quick to condemn the Sudanese coup, which is highly commendable, but has been silent on the coup in his native Chad which occurred six months earlier.
The Nigerian government that condemned the coups in Mali and Guinea is the same government that rolled out the red carpet for General Mahamat Deby that carried out the Chadian coup in which he sacked the executive and made that country’s legislature, history.
It is the same United States that has threatened sanctions against the coup plotters in Khartoum, that welcomed the bloody el-Sisi coup in Egypt, warmly welcomed the dictator to the White House with then President Donald Trump hailing the Butcher of Cairo as “my favourite dictator.”
It is the same African leaders who were deadly silent when democratically elected President Robert Mugabe was overthrown in Zimbabwe, that can be seen weeping that the military has toppled governments in Mali, Guinea, and now Sudan.
So long as the legendary international community engages itself in selective amnesia on coups in Africa, or in deed in any part of the world, so would the Sisi, Burhan and Assimi Goita boys club of professional coup plotters continue to expand.