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The New Trend

Aug 4, 2008, 9:36 AM

A wind of change, as they say, is blowing across Africa. Gone are the days when African leaders see themselves as life presidents. It is no longer fashionable to hold onto power forever on the continent. When the former Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo tried to elongate his tenure, he was so humiliated that he retreated with his tail between his legs to lick his wounds. Even the recent development in Kenya underscores the new realisation that nobody owns the monopoly of power; it is a public trust that one is entrusted with for a specified period of time before somebody else takes it up. This new trend has been going on for sometime now. Abdou Diouf of Senegal respected the wishes of the people when they decided that they preferred Abdoulie Wade. Rawlings of Ghana and Ould Vall of Mauritania also did the needful thing by bowing out when the ovation was loudest. And what is happening right now in Zimbabwe between the ruling party and the opposition promises to usher in true democracy for the people of Zimbabwe. It is only a matter of time before we see the back of President Mugabe.

In a short time from now, Ghanaians will be going to the polls to elect a new president to take over from the incumbent John Kufour. And in conformity with the prevailing public morality, Kufour has given his word to stand down at the end of his term of office.

Bit by bit, African leaders are beginning to see the folly of hanging on to power for ever. Before long, Africa will be rid of all forms of dictatorship - democratic or monarchical. And it is hoped that this new understanding of power will translate into an open society where transparency, accountability and good governance will be the mores of public life.

Africa could be rich and hold its own against the so-called G-8 if its leaders collectively are transparent in the use of power, especially in terms of resource allocation.

This continent deserves a better deal, but such can only be if our leaders lead justly within the framework of an open society. And from all indications, we are already heading in that direction.

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