Umm Muhammed Umar
Southern Africa Director of Human Rights Watch, Dewa Mavhinga, spoke to Radio Islam about the coup in Guinea, as well as other current matters, on the continent.
The coup in Guinea has apparently been welcomed by the main opposition as part of the democratic struggle. Mavhinga said that while this was problematic, particularly because the African Union does not support military coup as a way of changing governments. He explained that now, however, the coup was irreversible, it having already taken place. Mavhinga said that there now needed to be a transition towards credible free and fair elections that could usher in a civilian led government. There have been, particularly in West Africa, a number of military coups in recent months as a means of changing governments. So, it appears that although ECOWAS, as well as the African Union, have voiced their criticism, the only way forward, according to Mavhinga, might be to push towards credible free and fair elections that are without violence.
Meanwhile in Sudan, authorities, who are now in power, following the removal of 77 year old former President Omar Al Bashir, seem willing to hand him over to the ICC, for crimes against humanity committed in Darfur. Mavhinga said, “the new prosecutor, Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, was recently in Sudan to discuss the modalities and the technicalities, because Sudan had made a commitment, and there had been in international arrest warrant on Omar Al Bashir for many years.” He said that that warrant had already been in place when Al Bashir had attended the African Union summit in Pretoria, South Africa. There had been an outcry over the need for him to have been arrested back then. Mavhinga said, “So finally, we’re getting to the point where the hundreds of thousands of victims of the crimes against humanity might possibly see that justice is done when Omar al Bashir is handed over, (and this is) because the government in Sudan paved the way for that to happen.”
Uganda has been accused of the mistreatment of Rwandan refugees. Mavhinga said that Uganda has always had tense relations with Rwanda. Rwanda has accused the Ugandan authorities of mistreatment and arbitrary arrests of the refugees, and of viewing them as spies. He said, “we know that Uganda has got a huge number of refugees that it has taken in, but it’s treatment of refugees from Uganda has been of concern, especially at a time when the US government has reached out to Uganda with regards to refugees from Afghanistan.” He added that Uganda’s notoriety, regarding the treatment of refugees, is a cause of huge concern particularly to the East African bloc, as well as the AU.
Malawi, is leading the SADC and regional electoral reform, and Mavhinga says that this is a potentially big development. He said that Malawi, chairing the Southern African Development Community and pushing for electoral reforms, could make a big difference, especially as there had been a peaceful transition of power in Malawi. Meanwhile, just last month power changed hands in neighbouring Zambia, from the ruling party to an opposition party. Mavhinga said, “We hope that, Malawi will push to ensure that the principles governing the conduct of democratic elections (are acted upon).” He added, “we have also had serious concerns of the militarization of electoral spaces.” He said, regarding Zimbabwe, which goes to the polls in 2023, that it was very important that free and fair elections were held, as it would augur well for stability and development across southern Africa.