Civil conflicts in Africa

14/08/2014 00:00

In 2011-2012 we witnessed some of the ugliest political conflicts in Africa: the post-electoral “war” in Cote d’Ivoire, the revolutions in Egypt and Libya, with the latter leading to the brutal murder of President Gaddafi.  There is no doubt that both revolutions were inevitable, but all three conflicts have left the nations in question in a state of confusion and unrest, with death tolls rising by the day, continuous human rights violations, and abuse of the judicial system.  Let’s take a brief look at the current state of affairs of these three nations:

Cote d’Ivoire: Even though they didn’t have a coup, the post electoral crisis in this nation cannot be ignored.  It is ironic that an exercise of constitutional rights (the right to vote, right to a free and fair election) resulted into a prolonged conflict. The political instability continues to be breeding ground for human rights violations. Innocent civilians continue to be arbitrarily arrested, and detained on the basis of their political preferences, which is violation of one’s right to the freedom of association. Most of the actions of the national army are outside the legal framework and in violation of the constitution of Cote d’Ivoire which awards every citizen the right to a fair trial.  As violence prevails in this nation, one wonders if there will ever be peace. None of the perpetrators of these human rights violations have been brought to justice.

Egypt: The situation in Egypt is similar to that in Libya. The emergency legislation, created after President Mubarak was forced to resign (and later sentenced to life in prison), hasn’t been very effective. The police force [a supposed] instrument of justice is responsible for a majority of human rights violations in Egypt including: unlawful detention, death of innocent citizens, and torture of human rights activists. Police brutality is at an all-time high and if not put under control, innocent civilians will continue to suffer.   Reshuffling the police and making a few changes in the legislature won’t ensure human rights protection, at least not to the international standard. In order to address these problems, it might be necessary to completely restructure the legislature.  Any judicial instrument that sets itself above the law it seeks to protect is bound to abuse its power, therefore the power of the police has to be checked.

Libya: Oh Libya! What are we going to do with you?  Not only was the revolution in Libya a bloody mess (literally) which resulted in the death of many civilians and displaced many people from their homes, but violence still persists to this day!

 And how can we forget the fateful demise of President Gaddafi? There is no question that Colonel Gaddafi of Libya was a dictator and his policies and methods were nothing short of atrocious, but no man deserves to die like a dog on the streets of the country that he once used to rule. 

Nearly a year after the fall of Tripoli, the forces loyal to the National Transitional Council are still out of control, arbitrary arrests and detention are the order of the day, racism hasn’t been addressed, women’s rights are undermined, and torture and violence against innocent civilians are prevalent. The state of affairs now, seems very similar to the condition of this nation before the fall of Gaddafi.

It is important for any armed group that stages a coup against its leader to have a transition plan which it will enact after the fall of that leader. That has not been the case in Libya.

It is commonplace for nations to get stuck in a state of uncertainty post-revolution and it takes a lot of courage, dedication and structure to put the pieces back together.  The French revolution, which is one of the most memorable revolutions in history, lasted 10 years during which the French monarchy was overthrown in the first three years.  There are similarities between this war and the Libyan revolution. Both revolutions were started in order to oust dictatorial leaders, the premise of war demanding a more constitutional government. The parallels of these wars can also be drawn. What the French were able to accomplish in three years, Libya accomplished in a couple of months, and yet that victory hasn’t computed any tangible reforms. The French who had to wait 10 years for victory realized the importance of what they were fighting for. Old traditions of monarchy and aristocracy were quickly thrown out in favor of equality, and absolute rights. Even after the death of Colonel Gaddafi, the conflict in Libya hasn’t lost a beat, and seems just as vicious as before the fall of Tripoli. Some of the armed forces are still devoting their time and resources to destroying communities they believe were loyal to the late Colonel Gaddafi.

How can this nation move forward, if they keep looking over their shoulders?

Steps to reform this nation which is on the brink of self-destruction need to be taken fairly soon.  Disarming the militia [who have taken the law into their hands, and continue to violate human rights], could be a great starting place.  The legal system, which was worn out prior to the fall of Gaddafi, has completely broken down and restructuring this is also a priority.


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