Last week, the United States of America made the headlines for the wrong reasons. Thousands of protesters believed to be supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, the complex housing the United States Congress.
The mob, many of whom were said to be armed, forced their way into the House and Senate chambers and halted the congressional count of Electoral College votes confirming President-elect, Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.
As a result of the breach, members of both the Senate and the House were either evacuated to safety or advised by security operatives to take cover in the safe zones of the building. Vice President Mike Pence, who was in the Senate at the time of the invasion, was whisked away, just as other lawmakers and parliamentary staff were ordered to stay away from doors and windows. Armed security officers inside the House chamber aimed firearms at protesters attempting to breach the barricaded doors.
Incidentally, the invasion of the Capitol and desecration of the hallowed chambers took place a few hours after President Donald Trump had addressed a rally where he hinted that his supporters were to march to Washington to rescue their country. During the rally tagged “Save America March,” Trump reiterated his long held view about how the election was stolen, then dispatched his supporters to the Capitol as the important legislative proceedings were about to start. Before then, Trump had been urging Pence to reject the electoral votes from states they lost, but the Vice President declined to do so.
Even as the march turned violent and attracted immediate condemnations, President Trump was adamant and reluctant to recall the attack dogs he had unleashed on the parliament. In a bid to halt the siege and further descent to anarchy, members of the Virginia National Guard and 200 Virginia State troopers were deployed to Washington D.C. to beef up security around the Capitol. We are greatly saddened that the scenes painted above actually happened in the United States of America, a country that has remained the bastion of democracy for centuries.
If these ugly events had taken place in one of the Third World Countries where an incumbent President had lost an election and was unwilling to relinquish power, we could have waved it off as one of those things common among poor and under developed nations not yet conversant with the tenets of democracy.
The invasion of the Capitol appears like a coup, an insurrection and a calculated attempt to overturn the will of the American people. This is shameful and unprecedented in the history of the United States.
We strongly condemn the actions of Trump, particularly the inciting statements he has continued to dish out to his supporters about the last presidential election. While we recognise his right to hold any opinion about the outcome of the said election, we think his rejection of the election results and insistence that his mandate was stolen even after the U.S. courts had ruled otherwise is an affront on the U.S. Constitution which he swore to uphold, defend and protect.
We join many world leaders and lovers of democracy to condemn him and his supporters both inside and outside the Congress for going this low. We urge them to, henceforth, avoid all actions that could rubbish the sacrifices the U.S. has made and the legacies it has built in defence of democracy over the years. At this twilight of his fouryear mandate, Trump should have acted more responsibly to ensure a rancour-free transition of power to the incoming administration.
No matter his misgivings about the last election, it was wrong for him to attempt to overturn the results by force. Trump must always remember that no individual can force himself on a people.
It was the same American people who elected him into the exalted office in 2016 that voted him out in 2020. Since he had ample opportunities to ventilate his grievances and seek redress in the courts, but failed to obtain favourable judgements, the most patriotic and statesmanly option left was to concede victory to his opponent in the election.
No doubt, his desperate and despicable acts as a sitting President have rubbed off negatively on the influence of the U.S. in global politics. Many rogue nations with poor governance systems and antidemocratic tendencies used to thread cautiously during elections and political transition seasons in order not to incur the wrath of the United States.
In the wake of the pandemonium at the Capitol, some of them found their voices and mockingly told the U.S. that it had no moral authority to assess their democratic credentials any longer. This is dangerous in a world where many nations have been plagued by bad leadership occasioned by the reign of despots and dictators who have little or no regard for free, fair, transparent elections and orderly political transitions.