Tijdschrift voor Constitutioneel Recht

Article

Failed or incomplete constitutional transitions in Sub-Saharan Africa

Some insights from Cameroon, Kenya and Benin

Trefwoorden transition, reform, transformations of constitutional orders, constitutional transitions
Auteurs D. O’Kubasu
Auteursinformatie

D. O’Kubasu
D.M. (Duncan) O’Kubasu LLB (Hons), LLM, PhD is a lecturer in Public Law, Moi University, and Advocate, High Court of Kenya.
  • Samenvatting

      The subject of this article is constitutional transformations in Sub-Saharan Africa upon and after the region’s encounter with the third wave of democratization in Africa (TWD) that took place between 1989 and 1994. Since failure in democratic rule in the region was associated with the ease with which political elites amended formal constitutions to subvert democracy, anti-authoritarian factions perceived the solution to the problems bedevilling democratic governance in Africa to lie in formal constitutional rewriting. Hence, virtually all countries ventured into constitutional change – amendment or substitution – in the early 1990s. Inasmuch as different countries changed different formal aspects of their constitutions, they largely recognized multiparty democracy and obliterated the hitherto formulations that either allowed or endorsed single-party political regimes. Yet, on the ground different transitional outcomes were achieved, with a majority of countries either failing to transform at all from de facto authoritarianism or simply making partial transitions into semi-authoritarian or rather hybrid regimes. Using Cameroon, Kenya and Benin, this article contends that disestablishment of authoritarian rule depends on certain enabling factors, which seem to go beyond textual formulation and which may account for both the present conditions of these countries and the different transitional outcomes that were realized after these countries changed their formal constitutions in the early 1990s.

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