Thursday, 3 February 2011

After Hosni Mubarak: Who is Next?

Looking at the way a new dawn is unfolding in Maghreb, one can comfortably assert that this is but the beginning of a new dawn for Africa and the Middle East. It kicked off from Tunisia where a 23 year- dictator was impelled to flee. Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali was a master of manipulation and intimidation. Tunisia used to be the most docile country in Maghreb. When riots would erupt, Ben Ali would dispatch his army to quash them. Ali would have his way.

Who could risk thinking that a jobless citizen would become a weapon that would bring Ben Ali down to the ground! Thanks to a fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, Ben Ali is a fugitive now. How many Bouazizis does Africa have currently? Many many more of course.

After the successful show of people’s power in Tunisia, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak is another casualty whose days are numbered. Anything anytime can happen in Egypt where demonstrators have defied all odds to see to it that Mubarak is deposed.

A face of the US in Middle East, the US is no longer interested in him. According to US Secretary of state Hilary Clinton, "We want to see an orderly transition so that no one fills a void, that there not be a void, that there be a well thought out plan that will bring about a democratic participatory government." Clinton’s words say it all. The US wants to see Mubarak out as orderly transition comes in and do business with.

When demonstrators took to the streets in Tunis, the US voice was openly for demonstrators as opposed to Ben Ali’s regime. This is a stalk warning to all tyrants clinging onto power for decades that the US is changing her tactics.

After Mubarak, the next in line is Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh. He has been in power for over three decades just like Mubarak. Unemployment, corruption, impunity, nepotism, brutality, lack of vision, long stay in power, manipulation and poverty, to mention but a few, rock his country.

Africa rulers must take note of this wave. I can bet that Sudanese strongman Omar Bashir will be the curtain raiser for SSA. Bashir was able to cling to power thanks for petrodollars he used to get from China and other buyers who do not bother with human rights. Now that oil-rich South Sudan is gone, where will Bashir get the money to cool down the people? I am told that since the referendum, subsidies on oil and sugar is no more. This angered students who took to the streets but their demonstration was quashed by police. Is this the beginning of the end? Time will tell. Though things are still normal on the streets of Khartoum, the heat has already been felt and it is just a matter of time and the Sudanese pent-up anger will erupt.

When it comes to East Africa, I understand. The region has high population of youths. So too, it has high unemployment rates. Given that the region’s youth are not easily cowered, they will soon demand quality life. To them, taboos, “colourbarism” or loyalties are but nonsense. Good enough for them and bad enough for our rulers is the fact that most of them are educated. They know how many resources their countries have. So it is not easy for anybody to cheat them.

Are Africa’s leaders reading the signs of the times?

Source: The African Executive Magazine Feb. 2, 2011.

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