People in Burundi are demonstrating. The streets are packed with young people who request their president to resign. They fight for their right for a new Head of Government. Fact is; according to the Burundian Constitution, the Head of Government has to resign after two terms of office. The current president, however, tries to ignore this. He demands a third term as Burundi’s Head of State. According to him this is only fair, since he has been put in office by the Parliament the first time and has only been elected by his people once. The youth in Burundi replies, what almost everybody in the country is thinking; Burundi needs a new president and for this reason, new opportunities and perspectives, which can be used to ignite every spark of hope for developing towards a better economic and political future. Something, which hasn’t been achieved sufficiently by the current government. That’s why the young people of Burundi go on the streets.
Similar to the Arab Spring a couple of years ago: Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and later Senegal and Burkina Faso – in all those places, the political upheaval was started mostly by the youth. The young people of Africa want to participate more strongly in the decision-making process of its society. That’s what they demonstrate with their street protests. During the time I spent in Senegal, I witnessed myself how their determination, strength, anger and hope reined in a president and forced him to resign.
History is repeating itself: Now, Burundi – home country, is fighting. And all I have to support my People are my words…
Corruption, violence, egoism and obsession with power – many governments in Africa are criticized to hamper the development of economy and education by means of those four weaknesses of character. Initiatives, programs and foundations try to counteract this. An example therefore is the foundation of British-Sudanese entrepreneur and billionaire Mohamed Ibrahim. After gaining decades of experience in African business structures, Mohamed is investing since 2006 huge amounts of money in an award that honors “good governance in Africa”. A prize money of 5 million Dollars and a bonus of annually 200.000 Dollars is rewarded to Heads of Government, who, firstly, meet certain criteria, like involvement of citizens in political decisions, protection of human rights, public safety, legal security and sustainable growth of economy. Secondly, they have to be willing to step down from their political office after the statutory period of time to give way to a successor.
So much money, appreciation and motivation – and the list of candidates for the Mo Ibrahim Prize is still quite short. There have been four laureates since 2006. Joaquim Chisano from Mozambique, Festus Mogae from Botswana, Piedro Pieres from Cape Verde and this year’s award winner is the Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba. That’s the kind of president I wish for Burundi. Someone who knows what’s important for his people – regardless of his own personal interests. Strength, time and innovation for the development towards a nation, which wants to pursue and implement its desires and plans for a powerful future in peace.
Disturbances like the fights for a fair change of government and demonstrations for a higher acknowledgement of the youth hamper what Burundi is entitled to: recovering itself after decades of civil war, finding new structures and making room for the next generation.