Africa Needs Strong Men and Strong Institutions to Sustain Democracy – Gambari

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A former Head of the United Nations’ African Union Mission in Darfur, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari has said that to sustain democracy Africa needs both strong institutions and strong institutions.

Gambari who spoke at a dialogue in commemoration of 40th anniversary of the Economic Community of West African States was reacting to the statement by US President, Barack Obama, who said that what Africa needed was strong institutions and not strong men.

Gambari said “President Obama, during his visit to Accra, addressed the parliament and made a strong speech that what Africa needs is not strong men but strong institutions. I am no longer serving any government or the UN, so I will speak my mind as a scholar.

“Yes, strong institutions are very important and in the case of democracy, strong democratic institutions are vital to the sustainability of democracy but also is the importance of strong leaders. So, there must be a distinction between strong leaders and strong institutions but the combination of whole.”

He also emphasised sustainability as the only way to establishing and implementing democratic institutions.

He said “Contrary to perceptions outside, ECOWAS has taken huge steps to establish democratic institutions because it is not enough to mouth democracy — the government of the people, for the people, by the people. But there has to be sustainability and that could only be done be establishing and implementing democratic institutions.”

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