Something akin to the 2011 Arab Spring has recurred in North Africa, shoving aside two long-serving dictators in Sudan and Algeria. Sudan’s Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Algeria’s Abdelazziz Bouteflika have been forced out through people power.
However, the situation in both countries remains dicey and, with the benefit of hindsight, it behoves the international community, particularly the African Union, to seize the earliest opportunity to ensure a smooth power transfer.
A victim of the Arab Spring, Libya, has never fully recovered from the fall of the behemoth, Col Muammar Gaddafi. His Nato-backed ouster ushered in chaos that birthed the bewildering array of militants intent on taking control. Sustained protests at the Tahrir Square in Egypt’s capital Cairo forced out the reviled Hosni Mubarak but an entrenched military maintained power. It would take time before a semblance of stability is attained under Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whose dictatorial tendencies, however, seem to be a great cause for concern. Tunisia barely escaped protracted chaos after the fall of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
In Sudan, Defence minister Awad Ibn Auf, who was sworn in upon Gen Bashir’s exit, has since been replaced by Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, but protesters are demanding civilian rule. Algerian protesters, too, are seeking an overhaul of the regime.
Well-intentioned and managed external intervention works, as the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) proved in The Gambia in 2017. The bloc acted swiftly to scuttle Yahya Jammeh’s hold onto power after he lost to Adama Barrow.
We stand with the long-suffering peoples of Sudan and Algeria and urge the international community to help them go the full hog in their pursuit of quality democratic governance.