Pan-African Parliament’s High-Level Dialogue Addresses Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Africa


Pan-African Parliament HQ in Midrand South Africa. Image PUBLIC DOMAIN

On November 2, 2022, the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) convened a high-level parliamentary engagement [WATCH VIDEO] focusing on democracy, human rights, and governance in Africa. The dialogue aimed to identify gaps in the implementation and effectiveness of African Union (AU) legal and policy frameworks designed to combat Unconstitutional Changes of Government (UCG).

Editorial Cartoon from NATION.AFRICA

The theme of the dialogue was “Unconstitutional changes in Government and Political Transitions in Africa.” It took place on the margins of the first Ordinary Session of the sixth Parliament, drawing the participation of key stakeholders and representatives from AU member states.

The dialogue acknowledged the progress made by African countries in consolidating democracy and building democratic institutions, including multi-party politics, regular elections, and legislative and oversight functions of parliaments. However, concerns were raised over the recent trend of unconstitutional removal of governments, which poses a threat to peace and stability on the continent.

In his opening remarks, H.E. Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira, President of the PAP, emphasized the need for honest dialogue to address the rise of unconstitutional changes of government and acts of terrorism across Africa. He stressed that free and fair elections are crucial for achieving peace and stability, but further introspection is needed to ensure inclusive and participatory democracy beyond electoral processes.

Hon. Dr. Sherif El Gabaly, Chairperson of the PAP Committee on Cooperation, International Relations, and Conflict Resolution, underscored the importance of making peace and good governance a reality for African people. He committed the PAP to actively encouraging good governance, transparency, and promoting peace, security, and stability in the region.

Amb. Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, highlighted the need to reinforce independent democratic bodies in Africa. He emphasized the importance of strengthening and building strong democratic institutions and providing technical assistance to support free and fair elections. Adeoye stressed the central role of the PAP in ensuring democracy thrives and called for a stronger voice in election observations.

Experts at the dialogue, including Prof Andre Mbata Mangu and Prof Adebayo Olukushi, raised concerns about the effectiveness of existing AU legal frameworks and the lack of political will to combat unconstitutional changes of government. They noted that these frameworks often address the end results rather than preventing UCG and called for greater emphasis on self-correction mechanisms within democracies.

Following extensive discussions, the High-Level Parliamentary Dialogue issued several recommendations to address unconstitutional changes of government, enhance peaceful political transitions, and promote democracy in Africa. READ HERE: DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS OF 1ST SESSION NOV2022_V3_EN

The dialogue also called for efforts to achieve the inclusion of women and youth in governance and national accountability mechanisms to foster trust between citizens and political systems.

With the collective commitment of AU member states and regional organizations, the Pan-African Parliament aims to contribute to the attainment of Aspiration 3 and 4 of Agenda 2063, fostering an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice, and the rule of law, and a peaceful and secure Africa.

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