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Ghana vs. Burundi: Presidential Death and Power Vacuum



Burundi doesn’t have a president – not even an acting president – for the past one week. And for me, it thrusts home the robustness of a democratic system like that of Ghana, Nigeria.

Case in point Mills’ death and Mahama officially taking over – it took hours for that transition to take place and Ghana moved on till 2012 polls.

Ghana, like Nigeria – in the case of Yar Adua to Goodluck Jonathan did seamless power transfers but elsewhere, it is wait and see mode in Bujumbura, Gitega and across other parts of tiny (size wise) Burundi.

Burundi’s president Pierre Nkurunziza died Monday, govt confirmed on Tuesday. The country has two vice-presidents and a speaker but none are allowed to take power – even in an acting capacity.

Experts expected speaker Pascal Nyabenda to be sworn in. Instead on Thursday cabinet led by first vice president referred to Constitutional Court for directives.

Friday, court rules that there is no need for an acting president. Cue in president-elect Evariste Ndayishimiye, the court said he should be sworn in as soon as possible. No time frame given.

Today is exactly a week since Nkurunziza died. Burundi has yet to even announce when to swear in the new president. A case of unclear laws, a case of preempting and fending off power grabs?

A nation in mourning, yet to figure out funeral of late leader, lucky to have had an incoming president elected during a pandemic. Now, seems like the swearing in will also be amid the pandemic.

In other countries, it is so extreme that when a president dies in office, elections will have to be held to replace them. A case in point was in Zambia with the death of Michael Sata.

Of course, laws need to evolve over time and as and when the arms of government must rise up to liaise and “heal” the governance machinery.

In Ethiopia, postponed polls (due to COVID-19) is attracting heat but in Ghana, it almost seems like majority and minority will agree on way forward if need be with judicial assistance.

I’m not a political analyst – have never said I am. Just a journalist covering Africa and “dumb” enough to draw political and news trends across the regions.

Credit to Alfa Shabin.


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