For Online E-newspaper
Daily Nation : February 14th 2014
DAILY NATION Friday February 14, 2014 DN governor, while the wife-and-husband team of Bill and Hillary Clinton have also had a stab at starting their own little dynasty, and may well do so if Hillary decides to run for the presidency in the future. Dynasty building has also been the order of the day in India, a country that has for more than four decades been controlled by the powerful Nehru-Gandhi family (no links to Mahatma Gandhi). Like in the Kennedy case, assassinations were to put paid to the careers of three of those members, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi — who had inherited power from her father — and her son Rajiv Gandhi. Intriguingly, despite the violent deaths of her husband and mother-in-law, there coverstory has in recent times been talk of Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv’s widow, ascending to power in the huge democracy. The only deterrent is that she was born in Italy and only became an Indian when she married Rajiv, and the matter of her Italian ancestry is one that might not go down too well with the more nationalistic Indians. In next-door Pakistan, the late Benazir Bhutto also inherited the reins of power from her father, the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The same kind of power inheritance has also taken place in North Korea — where Kim Jong-Il took over from his father, Kim Il-Sung — and in Syria, where the currently embattled President Bashar al-Assad inherited the reins of power from dad Hafez al-Assad. 3 The president of Gabon’s neighbour, the Republic of Congo,Denis Sassou-Nguesso, had close ties with the late Omar Bongo, who gave him his daughter, Edith Lucie Bongo, to become his second wife as “an example of cooperation between the two countries”. president Bongo, dad Denis SassouNguesso and the presidents of Benin, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Togo. Following the death of his First Lady, it was announced on Gabonese television on May 6, 2009 that Omar Bongo was “temporarily suspending his activities” as president in order to “regain strength and rest”. The formal announcement further stressed that President Bongo had been deeply affected by the illness and death of his wife. Bongo himself died a month later at a clinic in Barcelona, Spain, on June 8, 2009, nearly three months after the death of Edith. The kinship links between Sassou- Nguesso and the senior Bongo were not an unusual occurrence in Francophone countries though. In fact Sassou-Nguesso appears to be an unusually convivial neighbour who has been very generous in betrothing his daughters to neighboring heads of state. For instance, another daughter, Sandrine Nguesso, is said to have at one time or another been married to President Joseph Kabila of the 2005 Joseph Kabila of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo is said to have at one time or another been married to President Sassou-Nguesso’s other daughter, Sandrine Nguesso, Year when Fauré Gnassingbé inherited power from his father, the late Gnassingbé Eyadema, as president of Togo. In 2001 Joseph Kabila had ascended to the presidency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo after the death of his father, Laurent-Désiré Kabila. neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo. With two powerful sonsin-law in the central African region, Sassou-Nguesso in his heyday must have been quite influential during regional meetings. Similar betrothals have taken place Ali Bongo Ondimba inherited the reins of power from his father Omar Bongo despite massive opposition protests. In 2001, Joseph Kabila ascended to the presidency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo after the death of his father, LaurentDésiré Kabila. Also in DRC,Nzanga Mobutuwas said to have been seriously angling for the presidency after the death of his father, Mobutu Sese Seko, who had ruled the country from 1965 and firmly held onto power until his death in 1997. Nzanga ended up serving as the Deputy Prime Minister, between 2008 and 2011, and as the leader of the Union of Mobutist Democrats. in the Francophone region over the years, and appear to be a particularly adroit way of consolidating power and cementing cross-border ties. President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, for instance, was married, and still is, to Chantal Compaoré, the daughter of Félix Houphouët-Boigny, the late mercurial president of Côte d’Ivoire. Matrimonial ties are however not the only factor in dynasty building and the systematic consolidation of power in Francophone Africa. Filial ties are also important when it comes to handing over power in the region. In Gabon itself, it was almost a foregone conclusion that the late Omar Bongo would be succeeded as president by one of his sons. It was therefore not surprising when current president Ali Bongo Ondimba inherited the reins of power from his father despite massive opposition protests. The phenomenon of father-to-son power inheritance was also replicated in Togo, where in 2005 Fauré Gnassingbé inherited power from his father, the late Gnassingbé Eyadema. Kpatcha Gnassingbé, another son of the late president, was then installed as the minister of defence, presumably to ensure the family stranglehold was maintained. It was therefore hardly surprising that in 2001 Joseph Kabila ascended to the presidency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo after the death of his father, Laurent-Désiré Kabila. Earlier in the same country, Nzanga Mobutu was said to have been seriously angling for the presidency after the death of his father, Mobutu Sese Seko, who had ruled the country from 1965 and firmly held onto power until his death in 1997. Nzanga ended up serving as the Deputy Prime Minister, between 2008 and 2011, and as the leader of the Union of Mobutist Democrats. Those familial aspects of power transfer in Francophone Africa aside, the region has more or less perfected the art of keeping power in the family. In Burkina Faso, for instance, President Compaoré, who has been in power since 1987, has surrounded himself with his kith and kin, with key government positions being held by relatives. Important positions For instance, his brother François Compaoré is his economic advisor, while other relatives also hold important positions, as is the case with Simon Compaoré, who is the Mayor of Ouagadougou, the capital city, and Jean-Marie Compaoré, who is the Archbishop of Burkina Faso. Other relatives include Jean-Baptiste Compaoré, the Finance minister, while motley other relatives have also been rewarded with important positions. In Gabon itself, the distribution of political positions certainly proves the old adage that blood is thicker than water. Apart from a Bongo son inheriting power from his father, Pascaline Bongo Ondimba, a daughter of the late Omar Bongo, is currently serving as her own brother’s Presidential Cabinet director. To further consolidate the family’s hold on power, Pascaline’s husband, one Paul Toungui, is the country’s foreign minister. Family holds sway Across in the Republic of Congo, the Sassou-Nguesso family — direct and extended — firmly holds sway in political circles. Emmanuel Yoka, an uncle of the president, is, for instance, the country’s Cabinet chief, while a nephew of the president, one JeanDominique Okemba, is in charge of the national Security Council. Yet another nephew, Edgar Nguesso, is the “director of estate”. Hilaire Moko, another nephew, is the director of government security. The list goes on, so that major state functions in that country are practically family gatherings, a phenomenon widespread in Francophone countries. In fact, while political dynasties are widespread phenomena elsewhere in Africa — including closer home — and in the world at large (see accompanying story at the top), in Francophone African countries they have become practically a way of life.
February 13th 2014
February 15th 2014