VERNON Mwaanga says the removal of Sudanese President General Omar Al Bashir after presiding over a brutal and repressive regime for three decades must serve as a timely warning and reminder to other dictators that no matter how long it takes, every dog has its day.
Mwaanga says when that day comes, there would be no hiding place.
“What the dictators don’t seem to realise is that once they are forcibly removed from power, their families, praise singers and cronies suffer with them and are subjected to the most severe scrutiny, including what they may have looted while he was in power,” he said.
He said African dictators must recognise and accept the importance of dialogue for the sake of peace on the continent.
Mwaanga said the alternative was confrontation and conflict, which only dents the continent needlessly, just to satisfy the selfish desires of leaders.
He said a few weeks ago, he called on the long serving President of Sudan, who has ruled for 30 years, to stand down and allow for a peaceful transition of power to a new democratically elected government.
Mwaanga said this was after the Sudanese people took to the streets unrelentingly demanding his resignation and a handover to a short transitional administration, which would prepare for a genuinely elected government.
“Bashir who came into power through a dreaded military coup, responded in a typical dictatorial manner by ordering the police and military to shoot and kill unarmed and peaceful demonstrators’ -mainly young people who have not known any other President. Thousands of people were arrested by the security services, brutally beaten up and tortured at secret locations,” he said.
He said this response was typical of the response by many African dictators, who think that repression of their people using state instruments of violence, could keep them in power forever.
Mwaanga said events in Sudan and Algeria had shown that people power was mightier than the sword and that no matter what force is used, “one cannot stop an idea whose hour has come.”
He said killing and brutalising people was not a viable solution to Bashir’s insatiable appetite for power.
“This is why political dialogue is desired to confrontation. History has shown that power is never permanent. When your people get to a point where they feel they have nothing to lose anymore, no amount of force or brutality can deter them from demanding change which they think can change their country and their lives for the better,” he said.
Mwaanga said in the case of President Al Bashir, he and a number of his close collaborators, including the defence minister who has now been named as interim leader by the Military Transitional Council, have International Criminal Court warrants of arrest hanging over their heads for crimes against humanity against their own people in the region of Darfur, where Zambian soldiers have been helping to police and keep peace for many years.
“The new interim leader supposedly for two years, has declared a state of emergency, suspended the constitution and imposed a curfew. All these draconian measures are obviously not acceptable to those demonstrators on the streets of Sudan, who are demanding free,fair and credible civilian elections,” he said. “They have vowed to remain on the streets, regardless of the consequences until their demands are fully met. It is clear that new battle lines have been drawn, whose consequences could be ominous. I have been an advocate of serious, genuine and constructive dialogue among political adversaries all my life, for which I have no apologies to make.”
Mwaanga said when differences and problems occur in countries among adversaries or opponents, dialogue was the most important and only thing to have recourse to.
“Those who reject dialogue, often regret their decisions when it is too late to make amends. For the sake of peace and reconciliation, African dictators must recognise and accept the importance of dialogue for the sake of peace on our continent. The alternative is confrontation and conflict which only dent our continent needlessly, just to satisfy the selfish desires of leaders,” said Mwaanga.