How (not) to Write an African Constitution| July 5, 2011
Earlier in June, I had the pleasure of listening in on Professor Kwasi Prempeh, from the International Forum for Democratic Studies, and his presentation called "How (Not) to Write an African Constitution: Reflections on Ghana’s Current Constitutional Review."
As someone who has a particular interest in constitutional building, I could not resist hearing what the Professor had to say. He gave what I thought was a compelling presentation comparing Ghana's current constitutional review to other african states, such as Kenya. He highlighted the importance of redrafting Ghana's constitution so that the executive branch does not maintain its dictatorship-esque power. This is a problem common in many African states. While presidential term limits are an important step, Professor Prempeh also discussed how the laws themselves need to be updated so that the Executive's scope is pared down from its early independence and military coup days. This is crucial to ensuring that democratic institutions and Parliament may be strengthened and not so easily trampled by a strong executive branch.
We have seen time and time again in various African states the problems that arise when the executive branch wields too much power, Cote d'ivoire being the most recent example. Hopefully, Ghana's constitutional review will press forward with urgency before the population becomes disenfranchised with the democratic process and the president consolidates more power.