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#PoliticalKarma has a brutal sense of humour & #Africa’s history offers lessons for powerful men who want to get ahead by retarding the legal process - those who degrade it often end up in need of it, usually to save them against their own collaborators.
In many parts of the continent, the #RuleOfLaw is undergoing chastening times, with ruling parties inventing convenient devices to eliminate uncertainties of democratic competition, kettle their opponents (both real and imagined), disrupt vocal civics & enable abuse of power.
Kenya's Chief Justice narrowly survived a suspicious car crash in Dec 2018. The next month, #Nigeria's ruling party decapitated the Chief Justice's tenure on the eve of an election. Gabon just suspended judge who agreed to hear petition on medical certification for @PresidentABO
None of this is new. It's happened b4 but the lessons for the would-be destroyers of the rule of law in #Africa appear to have been lost on a contemporary rulership deliberately devoid of memory. It's necessary to school them & remind ourselves.
At Independence in 1960, Houphouët-Boigny appointed Ernest Boka 1st President of Côte d'Ivoire's Supreme Court. He was a bright party activist who helped to establish 1 party state. But he quarrelled with Houphouët. Arrested in Aug 1963, his body was discovered at end of a rope.
In Equatorial Guinea, Macias Nguema was a corrupt court interpreter with mental problem who went on to become President at Independence. He killed or exiled all the lawyers & judges in his country. Deposed by nephew in Aug 1979, he was tried by militia & shot by Moroccan soldiers
Orton Chirwa Malawi's 1st Lawyer, 1st president of Malawi Congress Party & 1st Attorney-General didn't like presumption of innocence & wanted customary crts to try crimes. In 1983, he was tried for treason by Kamuzu-Banda b4 a traditional crt & sentenced to die. He died in prison
As #Nigeria's military president from 1985-93, Ibrahim Babangida emasculated courts, putting himselff & decisions above question. Invited in 2001 defend his #humanrights record, Babangida hired rich lawyers who got the Supreme Crt to rule perversely that he cld not appear.
I cld go on but the lessons of #Africa's history are v clear for today's would-be despots everywhere - u will not always be in power. So if u can create precedents today, while in power, that will give u a fighting chance when u are out of favour.
As we look to the future, it's clear that governance & #RuleOfLaw will be essential determinants of outcomes for most of the world's youngest continent. It's essential for those who care to remember, as Kundera said, that the struggle with power is of memory against forgetting.
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