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Jonathan, Sawyer ask African presidents to respect term limits

Jonathan, Sawyer ask African presidents to respect term limits
October 04
17:09 2019

Former President Goodluck Jonathan and four ex-presidents have asked sitting African presidents to respect constitutional term limits.

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Besides Jonathan, Amos Sawyer, ex-president of Liberia; Nicephore Soglo, former president of Benin Republic; Catherine Samba Panza, ex-president of Central Africa Republic (CAR), and Mahamane Ousmane, former president of Niger Republic, adopted a (Niamey) declaration asking leaders of the continent to abide by the constitutional term delimitation.

The former heads of state made the call at the end of the constitutional term limits summit in Niamey, Niger Republic, on Friday.

The event was attended by civil society groups and select media organisations across Africa, and with TheCable as the only newspaper from Nigeria.

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In a communique, the leaders pledged to promote the principles of constitutionalism and rule of law set out in the universal declaration of human rights.

“We, the participants, acknowledge the progress made in constitutional frameworks across the continent over the past three decades that have enshrined presidential term limits to facilitate renewal of political leadership in a continent undergoing vast demographic, economic and political changes. This is in addition to efforts at strengthening the rule of law, justice, reconciliation and national reconciliation,’’ the statement read.

“Combined actions by Africans at both the grassroots and leadership levels serve to promote constitutionalism and the application of term limits. We therefore commit to join our voices to call for the respect of term limits, constitutional rule and the rule of law more broadly which contribute to peace, stability and development across the continent.

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“Individually and collectively, we pledge to promote the principles of constitutionalism and rule of law set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance (the “Charter”), and the constitutions of various African countries, specifically as relates to presidential term limits and renewal of political leadership.

“We support the aspirations of consolidating constitutional rule and entrenching a culture of democracy and peace embodied in the Charter, which seeks to establish continent-wide norms of peaceful political change. The Charter also promotes the holding of regular, credible and inclusive elections and the strengthening of political institutions.

“Constitutional revisions or amendments perceived to benefit a single or a few individuals by removing or amending term limits, are counter to these aspirations. Though such changes may respect the letter of the law, they undermine trust and counter the spirit of the original constitution. Beyond a legal instrument, constitutions should be seen as a covenant among.’’

The ex-presidents asked all Africans to recommit to consolidating democratic progress achieved across the continent by signing on to the declaration of principles in support of constitutionalism, the rule of law and the respect of term limits.

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‘’We support the ratification and implementation of the African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance and of all other relevant legal instruments aimed at strengthening constitutional rule on the continent,’’ they said.

‘’We urge former heads of state, through their good offices and in collaboration with civil society and the media, to continue contributing to strengthening democracy on the continent, and where needed serving as mediators and peace-makers. These actions demonstrate to sitting presidents and the world at large that there is a rich life after State House.”

The summit was organised by the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

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