How do you stop a dictator?

How do you stop a dictator? That’s a good question.

Well, Africa’s been plagued with dictators in the past. But now, West Africa is starting to take a stand. Are you curious? Read on.

Because we can learn and then apply these principles in our daily lives.

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Three West African nations (Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana) have a Free status, four states have Partly Free status (Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau), and one state is in the Not Free status (Gambia), in 2017.

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This is according to FreedomHouse, an organization that works with local groups to promote voter participation by youth, and also monitors elections.   

Let’s take a look at Gambia. Recently, there was a “free” democratic election. During that time, Yahya  Jammeh, who was the Gambian President, didn’t win. But, he decided “he won”: he staged a coup. Similar to many other African country leaders, he just took over and he proclaimed himself ruler.

The president is elected by popular vote. Interestingly, he or she is eligible for an unlimited number of five-year terms. Elections are violent and rigged. Yahya Jammeh secured his fourth presidential term with 72 percent of the vote; the opposition parties rejected the results as fraudulent.

Yet the people and neighboring governments took a stand. ECOWAS, which is a combination of western states from Africa including (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Côte D’Ivoire) banded together.  They sent official public messages denouncing Jammeh’s take over.  When these messages didn’t work, they tried to set up diplomatic meetings with Jammeh.

Well, that didn’t work either!

African leaders, and especially dictators, can be stubborn.   They usurp power so they don’t see why should step down. If they didn’t step down for a country –  they most likely aren’t going to step down for you. But the Western African states took a further step. They began to mobilize militarily.  They planned to overturn his power and establish the rightful democratic leader.

At that point, Yahya Jammeh stepped down.

What a stunning result!

A democratic election was maintained.  

As much as the people inside the country wanted democracy, and wanted their vote to count, they didn’t quite have the strength to do it on their own. So their neighbors jumped in to support them.

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What does that say about our world and where it’s headed?

It says that people are caring much beyond their borders. They know that caring for one’s neighbor is the right thing to do.  If your neighbor is strong and ethical, it provides a greater support to your entire neighborhood. That extends to your city, county, nation and the world.  With just one ethical, helpful person, our entire world becomes more stable.

Let’s think about this in our own lives!

Is there a neighbor who needs some help? Could you provide some support? Maybe that neighbor is grumpy, maybe that neighbor lost someone special to them recently or even not so recently. They are still in pain.   Perhaps you can look beyond that grumpiness to provide them a coffeecake, offer to come over for tea, or walk their dog. I wonder how that would change your neighbor? How would your relationship with your neighbor change?  How would the safety and peacefulness of your home be improved? How would the safety of your entire neighborhood be uplifted?

Geopolitical events don’t just affect us in our concern and care for the world. They also hold lessons that we can translate into our day-to-day lives.

If we want world peace, it starts in our backyard.

Who needs your support today?

You’ll be strengthening your neighborhood.  Neighborhood by neighborhood we’ll be strengthening the world.

Love, Pamela

 

Background on ECOWAS

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

is a regional group of fifteen West African countries. Founded on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, its mission is to promote economic integration across the region.   ECOWAS is the creation of a borderless region where the population has access to its abundant resources.

What ECOWAS has created is an integrated region where the population enjoys free movement, has access to efficient education and health systems and engages in economic and commercial activities. The goal is living with dignity in an atmosphere of peace and security.  ECOWAS is governed in accordance with the principles of democracy, rule of law and good governance.

 

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