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By Alfred Muteru
In one of his many off-the-cuff remarks at the opening of the 25th African Union Summit in 2015, President Robert Mugabe slammed the constitutional two-term presidential limit discourse in Africa. However, in reference to recent events in Burundi, he wittingly noted political upheavals that emerged when incumbents decide to extend their stay in office. Ironically, President Mugabe is serving his seventh term though his first under Zimbabwe’s new constitution. This constitution restricts him to two-terms.
President Mugabe’s contradictory expressions highlight the numerous contentions over presidential term-limits on the continent. To-date, out of the 33 African countries who have constitutional term limits, 12 have successfully changed the provisions that have allowed incumbent presidents to extend their stay in power. Though a number of them have been unsuccessful in changing the constitution, the lingering question is why these leaders are desirous of extending their stay in office? What are the consequences of their actions in each context where this occurs?
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The ALC has announced the commencement of its new PhD Programme at Kings College London. The PhD programme titled PhD Leadership Studies with reference to Security and Development began in September 2015. It admitted its first cohort of student in 2015.
The PhD program is an addition to the existing Masters programmes MSc in Leadership and Development and MSc in Security, Leadership and Society established in the 2013-2014 academic year.
Discussions are progressing for the creation of a joint PhD programme between Kings College London and University of Nairobi as well as the University of Pretoria.
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A new web-based radio station that aims to help shape the agenda on issues connected with leadership, peace and security in Africa was launched in June 2015 at the African Leadership Centre.
ALC Radio—alcafricanradio.com—will be an independent medium of analysis of African issues that is publicly available to all via the internet.
The station has been developed by ALC and will provide a forum to influence debate and policy development on the continent. The programme content will uniquely be informed by research and will draw on expert opinion from around the world.
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The 2014/15 Fellows successfully held this year’s second ALC Debate series in Nairobi. The first of these debates were held in February 2015.
The Debates whose theme was African migration on the continent and in Europe: Local violence or structural racism saw two captivating debates conducted on Xenophobia in South Africa and Migrant boat deaths in Mediterranean.
The debates are a core part of the ALC Fellowship programme. They are high level role-play sessions where Fellows debate and act out the role of personalities involved in the management of significant security situations in Africa.
The sessions provide an opportunity for the Fellows to display their analysis of current affairs from a variety of perspectives.
The Debates are recorded live and aired on the ALC Radio.
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A new feminist journal —The Wide Margin—has been launched at the ALC.
The journal was founded by a group of young African feminist graduate students based at the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi.
The quarterly on-line journal will feature a collection of critically thought through essays on social, economic, political and cultural issues with a feminist inclination.
The ALC hosted the launch of the journals inaugural issue which is on the theme Feminist while African. The journal welcomes contributions from a wide cross-section of contributors.
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The Institute for Development Studies (IDS), an ALC strategic partner at University of Nairobi, will hold a conference dubbed IDS@50 on 18th to 21st of November to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of its inception. The conference whose theme is Rethinking Development and Development Studies in the Post-2015 Era aims to converge scholars who will reflect on the nature of development thinking in the post-Millennium Development Goals era and discuss new ways of thinking about development in Africa.
The Director of the ALC—Dr. Godwin Murunga - who is also a senior research fellow at the IDS, will be supporting various aspects of organising the conference which will be held at the University of Nairobi. The IDS was established in 1965 as part of the then University of East Africa. The institute currently produces knowledge and influences policy and practice on development issues.
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ALC will be holding the second in a series of Media Sensitisation Workshop in November 2015. The first workshop took place in May 2014.
This year’s theme will be “Reporting Regional Security from a Gendered Perspective” and will bring together early-career journalists from the East Africa Community member states.
The workshop will explore how theory drawn from feminist can illuminate and deepen reporting and analysis of regional security issues.
Through these media workshops, the ALC seeks to invest in a culture of reporting in East Africa that goes beyond the reporting of isolated and disconnected events to an analytical approach that pays particular attention to issues of regionalism, security and society.
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By George Omondi
Out of about 48 new constitutions in Africa, enacted in the 1990s, 33 of them provided for term limits for the office of the president. The limit is, for the most part, maximum two terms in office. Before that period of 'transition', only 6 African countries carried the presidential term limit in their constitutions. Interestingly, nearly 30 countries have contemplated the removal of term limits since 1998. In most of these countries, incumbents who had served two terms attempted to change the constitution to make themselves eligible for re-election for a third term, on the path to lifetime presidency. Some succeeded - for example Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and more recently Rwanda's Paul Kagame. Others, like Zambia's Fredrick Chiluba and Malawi's Bakili Muluzi did not succeed to effect necessary constitutional changes. Usually, the leaders do not extend their terms of office without an election. In most cases, elections are held and incumbents win with ease. Two issues are of interest. First, the negation of presidential term limits by amendment or interpretation of the constitution. Secondly, the management of elections with predetermined results. Our attention is directed at the first issue.
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By Albert Mbiatem
The perennial manipulations of presidential term limits by incumbents is increasingly ebbing away hopes for democratic consolidation in Africa. Following several years of political instabilities characterised by civil wars in the Great Lakes region, a new security threat – disputes over presidential term limits – is beginning to emerge. After Uganda and Burundi, Rwanda as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) may join the trend of incumbent heads of state scheming to for additional, if not, unlimited terms. The fragility in these states and political antagonisms associated with the phenomenon of unlimited terms is becoming a potential security threat in the Great Lakes region as incumbent governments in the four countries seek to have more than two constitutional presidential terms. In Uganda and Burundi, the incumbents have so far succeeded to maintain themselves after “constitutional amendments or interpretation” that enable extending their terms. In Rwanda, the process to support President Paul Kagame’s third term mandate is in motion. In DRC, the government has so far struggled to set up a protective mechanism towards maintaining Joseph Kabila in power. But unlike Paul Kagame, an “extended or perpetual stay” of Joseph Kabila at the helm of the Congolese state is very likely to be a new trigger of insecurity in the country, region and beyond.
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By Anisha Hira
The debate over extending the executive term limit to allow President Paul Kagame to run for a third term in the Republic of Rwanda has been framed as a clash between “exemplary leadership” on the one hand and “constitutionalism” on the other hand. Leadership under President Kagame can be reconciled with those constitutional values that encourage stability and security within the country. Presidential term limits do not necessarily guarantee democracy and good governance as proponents of amending the constitution claim. Indeed, as President Kagame himself points out, models of modern day liberal democracies, such as the UK and Germany, do not have any such provisions on term limits. In fact, leaders in both these nations have embarked upon three terms while maintaining a democratic state. Reformation of the constitution to allow for a further Presidential term would demonstrate strong leadership, and encourage stability, consistency and unity in Rwanda, it is argued.
In a 2003 referendum approximately 3.35 million Rwandans voted in favour of implementing a new constitution, which aimed to rebuild the country after the genocide. The 2003 constitutional reforms were instrumental in re-establishing institutions and addressing issues of identity and ethnicity in Rwanda. Like many other African countries, including neighbouring Burundi, Rwandans might be facing yet another referendum of constitutional and national significance. A petition, led by pro-government media outlets, and in favour of amending Article 101 of the constitution concerning Presidential term limits was signed by approximately 3.7 million citizens and presented to Parliament on May 27th 2015.