Forms of popular uprisings in Africa
Two major forms of popular uprisings are noticeable on the continent. The first is a widely supported popular military action that results in regime change. Such actions usually end in coups d’état, which are clearly, obvious, truly and crystal unconstitutional and condemned under AU norms.
The second form of uprising, however, is a popular mass civilian protest demanding respect for civil, economic and political rights or changes in governance or government. Popular civilian mass protests sometimes trigger military action, especially when there is a stalemate or massive abuse by the incumbent government. Popular cases in recent times include Egypt, Algeria and Sudan.
In Libya, however, clashes resulting from the government’s response to mass protests triggered a civil war, setting off a chain of events that ultimately led to the overthrow of the country’s leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
While the AU unequivocally rejects regime changes that result from military coups d’état, the organisation’s legal and normative frameworks are not clear on whether the removal of sitting governments through popular uprisings constitutes an unconstitutional change of government. On this backdrop, the Nigerian REGIME is confused on what legal framework to base their empty claim to prosecute Omoyele Sowore for demanding Buhari’s resignation.
AU’s responses to the different forms of uprisings
The difficulty in designating regime changes resulting from popular uprisings as either constitutional or unconstitutional stems from the multitude of ways popular uprisings lead to regime change. As a result, the AU’s responses have not always been the same for all cases. It has dealt with four different scenarios.
First, when popular civilian uprisings result in the resignation of an incumbent president, as was witnessed in Algeria in 2019, the AU seems to consider them as an internal affair of the member state. Though the AU may issue statements stressing the need for a peaceful transition, there is no direct intervention as would be the case with an UNCONSTITUTIONAL change of government.
Second, when the army of a given country steps into the vacuum created by the resignation of the incumbent president, as was the case in Burkina Faso, the AU usually provides the military with a deadline to hand over power to a civilian government. Failure to do so results in the country’s suspension from AU activities.
Third; are situations where the army hijacks a civilian mass movement’s demands for regime change to force the sitting leader to resign. In Sudan, and most recently, Mali, the AU categorised such a move by the army as a military takeover and demanded a reversal to civilian leadership. Upon the army’s failure to do so, it suspended Sudan. Mali’s recent experience is another case.
Finally, when popular uprisings have turned into armed dissent or civil war, such as in Libya in 2011, the AU tends to treat these instances as civil war and launches conflict resolution initiatives from the onset.
The AU thus seems to treat the direct military ousting of governments differently from cases where popular uprisings trigger both military-led and civilian regime change.
Nigerians are determined to oust incompetence, ineptitude, economic, social, and political injustices and corruption.
This is backed by law and conscious. It is a duty on us by law and nature to rescue our nation from the claws of charlatans, jokers, unserious and clueless leaders, and only history can judge us.
The Revolution that will happen in Nigeria, is one carried out from start to finish by the people, just like the Algerian Revolution!
October 1 will see Nigeria become independent and Nigerians truly free. No going back, cause The time is now!
Sydney Usman GODWIN