Punish Overstaying Leaders – President Akufo-Addo

President Akufo-Addo is pushing for stiffer punishment for African leaders who subvert the provisions of their respective countries’ constitutions by overstaying their term.

In most of the situations where incumbents have not respected term limits, he said “they have argued that the basis for hanging on to power is in response to popular pressure by their people to remain in office, and that term limits have no meaning in poor and under-developed societies where uplifting citizens is of the highest priority,” whilst “Others also believe that leaders should remain in office if they continue winning elections.”

Addressing the African Union (AU) Reflection Forum on Constitutional Changes of Government in Africa in Accra yesterday, he noted the electoral processes that have been used to set term limit extensions or removals in Africa have often been marred by allegations of widespread irregularities.

More often than not, he said ruling parties that ply this route usually enjoy near-total control of most, if not all, the levels of government and the electoral machinery.

For that matter, he said, “African people have paid a steep price for efforts by leaders to circumvent constitutional term limits.”

Meanwhile, he said ninety percent of the 24 countries that either lack term limits or have circumvented these have experienced varying levels of civil unrest and political instability, including coup d’états.

According to President Akufo-Addo, the continent’s democratic progress was being threatened by such events.

As current chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State, President Akufo-Addo said, “I have witnessed directly the devastating effects that coup d’états and attempted coups have had on the region. There have been at least three such occurrences in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, and an unsuccessful attempt in Guinea Bissau.”

He cited the AU Peace and Security Council, which attributes these to “deficiencies in governance, political greed, mismanagement of diversity, failure to seize opportunities, marginalization, human rights violations, unwillingness to accept electoral defeat, manipulation of constitutions and their revision through unconstitutional means to serve personal narrow interests” and so on.

Even though he said “the reappearance of coups in Africa in all its forms and manifestations must be condemned by all, since “it seriously undermines our collective bid to rid the continent of the menace of instability and unconstitutional changes in government, as currently defined by the frameworks enshrined in the Lomé Declaration, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, and other important regional and continental instruments.”

Whilst he admitted that defaulting members are condemned and suspended from the activities of continental and regional bodies, likewise individual coup-makers, the President however insisted these sanctions have not been applied uniformly.

“While we are quick to sanction military coup leaders, civilians, who achieve similar ends via the manipulation of constitutions to remain in power, for example, go without sanctions, although their actions are clearly prohibited in our legal instruments,” he noted.

He, therefore, stressed the need for existing frameworks to be strengthened to capture such infractions.

BY Charles Takyi-Boadu

Source: dailyguidenetwork.com

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