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Constitutional Stability in the Great Lakes Region

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on July 28, 2018 11:44

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The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region affirmed the group’s position to ensure peace, stability and development in the Central African region. But, can the group be effective in preventing Presidents outstaying their terms of office?

The fertile great lakes region formed a cradle for most of Africa's peoples. It is now hampered by stagnant economic growth and a burgeoning population. Political competition and lack of resources contributed to the Rwandan genocide and several recent wars in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The ICGLR, as it is known, is a 12 member intergovernmental organisation, and is not a recognised regional body in the African Union’s Peace and Security Architecture. It has, however, played a significant role as forum for debate, a clearinghouse for ideas and a platform for development planning.

Two researchers of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, Chido Mutangadura and Priyal Singh, recently published a briefing paper questioning howr the regional body can effectively hold leaders to their democratic mandates.

The African Union favours subsidiarity in its peace efforts, delegating conflict resolution to the Regional groupings. And in the great lakes region there is considerable potential for conflict. Singh and Mutangadura postulates that the ICGLR should mobilise civil society to further the aims of peace and development, but question whether the body can address the destabilising effect of Presidents that increasingly look like old-style Kings.

President Museveni. Premium Times



Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni has been in power since 1986. Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza, who decided to run for a third term in 2015 can now, in terms of the outcome of a 2018 referendum, extend his Presidential term to 2034, although he has pledged to step down in 2020.

President Nkurunziza pledging to step down in 2020. HowAfrica

 

In neighbouring Rwanda, President Paul Kagame, due to the outcome of a 2015 referendum, can now extend his mandate to 2025. President Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo has already overstayed his term by two years, and elections are now scheduled for December 2018, but there are fears that Kabila could still contest the polls.

President Kagame of Rwanda. Kenya Today


Current Chair of the ICGLR, Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo (better known as Congo Brazzaville) has held the Presidency since 1979, with a period in opposition from 1992 to 1997.

President Sassou-Nguesso. Le Monde



Fears are expressed that Tanzania’s President John Mangafuli, despite his populist appeal, is showing increasing signs of authoritarian rule, restricting political  dissent and media freedom.

These tendencies restrict popular democratic expression and so limit political stability and economic growth. The African Union, locked into subservience to Heads of State, is not in a position to limit what has been described as ‘constitutional coups’ through amendments that enable Presidential terms.

It has to be added that these leaders all brought stability to embattled nations. But the wars they fought are long over, and open, democratic societies are now needed.

The task of the ICGLR, according to Singh and Mutangadura, should be to create a consensus among members that good governance and democracy are key to long term security, stability and development.

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on July 28, 2018 11:44

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Source: FOX News

U.S. President Donald Trump has spoken with South African President Jacob Zuma about trade ties and stability in Africa.

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