Monday, 14 July 2014
Department of Political Affairs
Brainstorming Workshop on the African Union Doctrine on Unconstitutional Changes of Government and Engagement of Stakeholders in Promoting and Implementing the African Charter of Democracy, Elections, and Governance
14 July 2014, Pretoria – A three day workshop to brainstorm on the African Union Doctrine on Unconstitutional changes in Government and to engage stakeholders in the implementation of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance was officially opened today by H.E Hon. Mogoeng Mogoeng, Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa and Vice President of the African Conference of Constitutional Courts at the Burgers Park Hotel, Pretoria, South Africa.
The opening session was attended by Amb. Moorad Mustaq, Africa Regional Director of International IDEA; H.E Dr. Abdoulie Janneh, Chair of the Governing Board of the Africa Governance Institute; H. E. Wynter Kabimba, President of the Council of African Political parties (CAPP); as well as the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, H.E Dr. Aisha L. Abdullahi, represented by Prof. Vincent O. Nmehielle, Director of Legal Counsel of the African Union. Over 60 participants were in attendance at the opening session.
Speaking on behalf of the African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Dr. Aisha L. Abdullahi, Prof. Vincent O. Nmehielle, noted the importance and implications of the consultative workshop on the democratisation process of the Continent. He stated that the challenge of unconstitutional changes of government have created a new wave of challenge for the African Union particularly on the adequacy and efficacy of its normative frameworks aimed at addressing the scourge. He expressed his optimism that the workshop will help to navigate towards providing a consistent and coherent strategy for addressing unconstitutional changes and popular uprisings on the Continent.
In his remarks, Amb. Moorad Mustaq, Africa Regional Director of International IDEA in his remarks underscored the support of the International IDEA within the framework of its Joint Action Plan with the African Union Commission. He noted that the challenge of unconstitutional changes and popular uprising in Africa have continued to challenge the democratic space on the Continent. He stated the recent developments in North Africa have further created the need for a robust engagement with stakeholders on addressing the various structural triggers of unconstitutional changes and popular uprisings on the Continent. He assured of the continued support of International IDEA to the work of the African Union Commission in strengthening democratic governance on the Continent.
In his keynote address, H.E Hon. Mogoeng Mogoeng, Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa welcomed participants to South Africa. He highlighted the need for strong and independent judiciaries as deterrent to unconstitutional changes of government in Africa. He noted that the erosion of the rule of law and attempts at relegation of the judiciary explain the spate of governance deficits experienced in a number of African countries today. He emphasized that strengthening the African judiciary will help to ward off unconstitutional changes in government and popular uprisings on the Continent. He called for investment in the judiciary at national, regional and continental level to strengthen constitutionalism and rule of law on the Continent.
The workshop has been convened to critically assess the state of constitutionalism and rule of law in Africa and to highlight the challenges of entrenching constitutionalism and respect for the rule of law, with a particular focus on unconstitutional change of governments. It is envisaged that the workshop will contribute to the development of a comprehensive definition of unconstitutional changes of government that will lead to a common understanding of the phenomenon. This will contribute to the implementation of the AU Assembly Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.220 (XII) which requested the Commission to submit concrete recommendations on the appropriate measures to prevent unconstitutional changes of Government, to develop capacity for early warning mechanism, good office and mediation.
This consultative workshop will continue until 16 July 2014. The workshop is jointly convened by the African Union Commission and the Republic of Senegal, with support from International IDEA and African Governance Institute.