Dr. Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua delivers Inter-College Lecture

Dr. Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana School of Law has noted that African leaders are striving to extend their two-term tenure in office,  and questioned why this is so.  He made this remarks when he delivered a lecture on the topic: A Critical Review of ‘Third Termism’ in African Politics from an International Law Perspective, under the Inter-College Lecture Series.

He began by highlighting the 3 generational constitutional law-making processes in post-colonial Africa. In the first generation, he espoused how pre-colonial Africa negotiated for political independence which was translated into a highly constitutional regime with references to the rule of law and human rights; nonetheless, this was later confronted by civil strife in the form of revolutions and coup d’états ousting the legitimately elected government; this preceded the 3rd generation which was essentially the restoration of constitutional democracy.

Although coup d’états were largely popular during the 2nd generation era, he said there were other means of unconstitutional changes in government, namely; mercenary activity, rebel uprising and refusal to leave office after losing free and fair elections.  Although these activities were overshadowed, he observed that they ushered in a peculiar situation which he referred to as ‘third termism’ which he said, seeped into the frontiers of many independent states after the end of the cold war. This was the 3rd generation.

Third Termism was defined in his address as the complete removal of the third-term limit by a President to allow him/ her unlimited number of times to contest elections. Within 10 to 15 years after the Cold War, 24 Presidents have initiated discussions to remain in office after their two-term duration had elapsed. However, it has been recorded that only 15 of these attempts were successful and these include countries such as; Burundi, Niger, Rwanda, among others; but 3 have been unsuccessful; Malawi, Nigeria and Zambia. On the other hand, statistics show that 75% of Sub-Saharan Africans do not subscribe to this position of third termism.

This phenomenon has been attributed to; the lack of social security for former Presidents, informal institutions that facilitate social vices like corruption, nepotism and the human desire for authority and prestige.

Dr. Appiagyei-Atua noted that Third Termism is effected through soft contraventions by which Presidents identify loopholes in the law and demand a 3rd term; hard contraventions which involve amending the law through a referendum or parliamentary enactment and amendment of the law by illegitimate means.

He concluded by proposing an election of a rotating Presidential Council with representatives of political parties who remain on the council by at least a 20% majority vote. Further, the position of ministers should be advertised based on qualification and that the requirements of the Mo Ibrahim Prize on Governance should be relaxed to incentivize African leaders to desire to contest for it. Again, that the concept of popular recognition should be applied. Lastly, that the African Union should give de jure “legal” recognition to the deposed government whilst refusing the unconstitutional government de facto (“effective control”) recognition.

The lecture was chaired by Prof. Samuel Agyei-Mensah, Provost of the College of Humanities.

The Provost in his closing remarks congratulated the lecturer for giving insightful views on a topic of current public interest which cuts across the varied disciplines in the Humanities.

The lecture was attended by a cross section of students and faculty from the various academic units of the College and other Colleges.