President Jose Fonseca of Cape Verde has embarked upon another foreign trip which, if he were an ageing rock star instead of a lame-duck president, would be part of “The Legacy Tour”.
He is fortunate that unlike many of his African counterparts he is leaving office later this year on his own terms and with some semblance of dignity. One would like to say that he was going to leave behind a legacy of note but President Fonseca’s conspicuous inaction over the past year regarding the matter of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab matter will cast a long shadow over his time as a public servant.
Jose Fonseca has shown no statesman-like qualities which, if rumours are to be believed, would be necessary for the alleged global role he craves with one of the UN agencies. A role that he might feel is his for the taking given the unstinting support he has given the United States in the way Cape Verde has detained Alex Saab and subjected him to systematic physical and psychological torture.
Over the past year, Jose Fonseca has not shown an ounce of compassion despite having had ample opportunity to intervene in Alex Saab’s case on humanitarian grounds alone, following direct appeals to him by the wife of Alex Saab.
Quite which UN agency soon-to-be-ex-president Fonseca thinks is going to welcome someone who has turned a blind eye to human rights abuses and at the same time caved into political pressure remains to be seen. He is happy to duck difficult decisions and receive degrees and attend photo opportunities which will no doubt feature in the memoir that will be written from the comfort of a UN supplied chair in Geneva.
President Fonseca supposedly has no domestic political agenda. No promises to make to get himself elected. He is free of the constraints of political reality. Yet he has refused to use his status as “Defender of the Constitution” to neither defend the constitution of Cape Verde nor protect the good name of his country built by his predecessors in office.
What is perhaps most galling of all, is that having spent the last year disrespecting ECOWAS and the ECOWAS Court of Justice, President Fonseca, without an ounce of shame, is intent on attending the ECOWAS Heads of State summit this coming weekend in Ghana. No doubt he is expecting a round of farewell eulogies, bonne hommie and socially distanced backslapping and more nice photos for the book. Rumour has it that all may not be such smooth sailing for the aspiring UN dignitary.
Cape Verde’s two-faced attitude towards ECOWAS has seriously antagonised several other notable member states. A nation which throughout the history of ECOWAS has taken whatever the community has to give with both hands, yet has refused to give back anything when asked, should not be surprised to find itself at the receiving end of some diplomatically rough treatment.
A nation that has taken the politically motivated decision to consciously break international law, that risks creating a precedent that puts all diplomats and political agents in harm’s way and then tries to hide behind the skirts of a compliant judiciary cannot expect to be welcome amongst civilised nations. And nor should its lame-duck president