From the semblance of independence to the semblance of democracy ...

Audio 03:49

Jean-Baptiste Placca, columnist at RFI, in 2020. Pierre René-Worms

By: Jean-Baptiste Placca

8 min

Some of the independence granted to African states in 1960 turned out to be mere semblances of independence.

To stop drifting from disillusionment to disillusionment, African people must ensure that dishonest judges do not transform current political systems into semblances of democracy!


These are the words of a Cameroonian lawyer, appalled by the way in which

the appeal trial of his client, Sisiku Ayuk Tabé, self-proclaimed president of the secessionist Republic of Ambazonia

, was dispatched this Thursday

, September



Of these magistrates, who confirmed the conviction of his client without hearing him, the defender, he says that they are "

judges charged with mission


These words, you agree, are harsh


Hard, and even very hard.

But we will also agree that the image sketched by Me Emmanuel Sim perfectly illustrates the realities experienced by many African peoples!

How can we not think that magistrates, in such or such a country, are "mission managers" for the power in place, when, regularly and systematically, they deliver verdicts in all respects in accordance with the wishes of political power, contempt for the law, and the rights of ordinary citizens!

How not to question the independence of so many electoral commissions, which strive to always prove (and win) the ruling party, against and against the choice of the voters!

And what about such a constitutional court, which ignores the facts, figures, evidence and arguments of opponents, to always validate the certainties and shenanigans of power, as so many revealed truths!

Thus, the bodies responsible for ensuring that the citizens' wishes are respected are transformed into "mission officers" to validate the fraud, without even bothering to save appearances.

Which country are we talking about


Of all, with a few exceptions… But French-speaking Africa, here, leads the dance, alas!

Yes, the electoral commissions and other constitutional courts are as many “mission officers”, knowing how to validate precisely the candidacies which the power can accommodate, and eliminating all those which it does not want.

Basically, the real gravediggers of democracy on this continent are undoubtedly these servile judges, so adept at serving each power, so quick to anticipate the wishes of the president, whoever he may be ...

Maybe they just don't have a choice ...

In the United States, the decisions rendered by each magistrate, each judge of the Supreme Court are archived and follow him throughout his career, and even beyond.

Believe it, magistrates and other members of electoral commissions or constitutional courts would think carefully, before disgracing their dress or their oath, if they knew that they could, one day, be called to account for the bad decisions that 'they take, whether under duress or out of convenience.

There are countries where the decisions rendered by the Supreme Court or by the Constitutional Council are awaited, like a divine judgment, because the citizens know that this is the place where any errors in the judicial chain are repaired.

But when these organs deliberately turn out to be the breeding ground for even greater injustices, then we slide towards what should be imprescriptibility.

Democracy, especially on this continent, is not possible without independent and credible justice.

Many examples, heard in this year of the 60th anniversary of independence, confirm the idea that the independence granted to African states in 1960 was, often, only a semblance of independence.

How disastrous it would be for these peoples to go from the semblance of independence to the semblance of democracy!


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  • Anniversary of African Independence

  • Human rights

  • Africa

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