Until recently, things had been looking up for Niger. Europe provides the nation with quite a bit of dough. Uranium is being mined there. Money money money.
Alas, that money perhaps explains President Mamadou Tandja’s dissolution of parliament several months ago. There had been no perceived threat. There was just the institution itself. And it did not want to go along with Tandja’s no-term-limit notion.
So then the 71-year-old leader trotted out his constitutional revisions to the people themselves, in a vote held in early August. But a huge segment of the voting population didn’t trust the man. After dissolving parliament, the stink of a power grab was upon him.
Many, many Niger voters boycotted the referendum.
With voter turnout way down, Tandja’s revisions won. But with a parliament suppressed, a boycott in play, and “ruler for life” on everybody’s lips, the whole thing smells bad. A whiff of it even caught the jaded noses of America’s news hounds.
In America, when leaders seek to escape term limits, media folks too often seem to support them. But, about Africa, anyway, even America’s most elitist media mavens realize that an end to term limits is a move to dictatorship.
Yes, at least regarding African politics, virtually everyone in the U.S. can see that term limits are essential to democracy.
Not much of a bright side, but there it is.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.