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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Conceptualising a framework for inclusive, fair and robust multiparty democracy in Africa: the constitutionalisation of the rights of politcial parties
Author:Fombad, Charles MangaISNI
Periodical:Verfassung und Recht in Übersee (ISSN 0506-7286)
Geographic term:Africa
Subjects:political parties
Abstract:Democracy flourishes best where free and vibrant political parties are permitted to openly compete for political power. The conditions must be such that the party in power will not be able to manipulate the rules in order to reduce the competitive pressures from other parties and entrench itself in power. The expansion of political rights in Africa in the 1990s which saw the re-introduction of multi-partyism was supposed to have ushered in a new era of ompetitive politics that many thought would relegate the one-party system to the dustbin of history. This does not appear to have happened. This paper considers why this is the case and what can be done to reverse the situation. This paper starts by briefly reviewing the evolution of the rights of political parties in Africa from independence to the 1990s. The paper then examines the changes that have taken place since the present wave of constitutional reforms started in the 1990s to see to what extent these provide a firm basis for the establishment of a free and fair competitive political system. It is shown that in most African countries, multipartyism as now practised, has progressively led to the replacement of the one-party system with the dominant party system in which the latter under the charade of democracy have continued to perpetuate all the authoritarian practices of the former. The paper argues that the constitution-builders did not adequately learn from the mistakes of the pre-1990 era. It suggests a number of elements designed to entrench the constitutional rights of political parties to facilitate meaningful, genuine, and effective competition that could substantially reduce the scope for incumbent parties manipulating the political system in order to entrench themselves or their leaders in power. [Journal abstract]