I have heard it being said that the military of any nation is a government unto itself. In some climes, the nation’s chief executive, president, is given the designation of; “Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.” This means our presidents are superintending over both the men with arms and we the unarmed men.
The armed forces of any nation do play a vital role in protecting the territorial integrity of that country. It is because of this role that they will engage in wars against a potential enemy or threat. They are truly of great value in regards to security. In the aspect of civil governance, they play no active role. On the other hand, any democratically elected president should aim at enjoying both the acceptance of the people through their votes at an election and the unalloyed support of the military. No president jokes with his/her military.
In times past, coups were frequently orchestrated in many countries because the military had the force that could seize power to themselves whenever they so choose. In this instance, they were the sole actors in civil governance. They weren’t serving under/or in partnership with a democratic system. We have seen how most democratically elected presidents abuse power freely offered them by the people. We knew of dictators during the era of military rules, but in recent past, there is a prevalence of democratic dictators. They hold so tight to power and won’t let go.
In some countries, the constitution has been rewritten by the parliamentarians to remove or extend the presidential term limit. These acts are done in conjunction with critical stakeholders in the polity who have the political structure and machinery that always delivers at the polls. Support from the military and the hijack of the election then means that there is no easy way for the people to affect a regime change. Regime change is a difficult thing for aggrieved citizens to achieve at any time.
A regime change often begins with a street protest sparked by one particular social disorder. The disorder could be the price of commodities, high taxes, lack of social amenities (especially water), economic hardship, loss of confidence from the people, etc. During any such protest, there will always be the use of force by the authorities in a bid to quell the impending crisis.
Major crackdowns will be undertaken against the opposition leaders, and this will result in injuries and possibly deaths. A street protest may last longer depending on the determination of the people. But the longer the protest, the higher the chances of winning the sympathy of the game changers, the military. It happened in Zimbabwe, The Gambia, Egypt, Algeria, and recently, Sudan. The military is still alive, always coming to the rescue. They may not intervene quickly, but when instability is a likely outcome, they then speak out. In the end, the military bows to public pressure.
By Itoro Orok
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