Niamey Summit

Constitutional Term Limits in Africa

October 2 - 4, 2019 in Niamey, Niger

From October 2 to 4, NDI and its partners jointly organized a summit in support of constitutional term limits to mark the official launch of the program.


Participants included Mo Ibrahim laureates as well as other African former heads of state who left office democratically and peacefully. These leaders were joined by representatives from the African Union and civil society organizations. 


The summit featured panel discussions on, among other topics, promoting good governance through democratic processes, core principles of constitutionalism and the rule of law, and leadership opportunities for former heads of state.

Download the Niamey Summit Final Report Here

Photo gallery
 
Agenda

Opening Ceremony

Welcoming Remarks

Dr. Chris Fomunyoh, Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West Africa, NDI

Dickson Omondi, Regional Director for Southern and East Africa, NDI

Remarks

Ambassador Eric P. Whitaker, United States Ambassador to the Republic of Niger

Former President Nicephore Soglo (Benin), Co-chair of Africa Forum

Presidential speech

President Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger 

The opening ceremony was followed by a group photo, viewable in the photo gallery above

Panel I: Guiding Principles of Constitutionalism, Rule of Law and Respect for Term Limits

Moderator

Dr. Sophia Moestrup, Deputy Regional Director, NDI

Panelist

Former President Amos Sawyer (Liberia)

Former President Goodluck Jonathan (Nigeria)

Former President Nicéphore Soglo (Benin)

Calixte Mbari, African Union Commission

Panel I provided an overview of the broad normative and legal principles of constitutionalism, rule of law, and respect for term limits, such as are included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance, and the constitutions of various African countries, specifically as relates to presidential term limits. The panel focused on the embrace of these principles and their implementation or enforcement across the continent.​

Panel II: Facilitating Peaceful Transfers of Presidential Power

Moderator

Ulrike Rodgers, Program Director Francophone West Africa, NDI

Panelist

Former President Mahamane Ousmane (Niger)

Former President Catherine Samba-Panza (Central African Republic)

Former President Amos Sawyer (Liberia)

Kevin Munyanganyi, Katiba Institute (Kenya)

Panel II discussed the mechanisms and processes that have supported peaceful democratic transitions, and how to create and foster an environment that promotes smooth transfers of power from one leader and administration to the next. Topics of discussion included: good offices missions before and after presidential elections; managing electoral outcomes until the swearing in of the new president; and best practices for supporting communications during the transition, both internally within government and externally to the wider public. Panelists highlighted their roles in successful transitions in the region, and/or discussed personal experiences from their own transitions.​

Panel III: Life After the Executive Office: New Opportunities for Continental Leadership

Moderator

Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, NDI

Panelist

Former President Goodluck Jonathan (Nigeria)

Former President Nicéphore Soglo (Benin)

Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia) 

Chantal Nare, Africtivistes

Panel III discussed efforts by African leaders to cement their legacies after leaving office. They also discussed the varied paths that former heads of state can and have taken after leaving the presidency, and how such paths can and have contributed positively to respect of presidential term limits and the rule of law, and/or have improved the wellbeing of citizens in their countries or across the continent.

Panel IV: Justice and Reconciliation as Competing Priorities

Moderator

Arnauld Akodjenou, Kofi Annan Foundation 

Panelist

Former President Catherine Samba-Panza (Central African Republic)

Former President Mahamane Ousmane (Niger)

Ben Nyabira, Katiba Institute

Janvier Bigirimana, Tournons la Page​

Panel IV discussed issues of transitional justice and draw upon speakers’ experiences with the realities of implementing transition processes where violations of various forms have occurred under national or international law. Participants discussed strategies for balancing demands for both justice and national reconciliation.

Panel V: Building Consensus around Respect for Constitutional Term Limits

Moderator

Dickson Omondi, Regional Director, NDI

Panelist

Former President Goodluck Jonathan (Nigeria)

Former President Nicéphore Soglo  (Benin)

Calixte Mbari, African Union Commission

Brice Mackosso, Tournons la Page

Panel V focused on how to consolidate democratic gains across the continent by reinforcing national and regional consensus around respect for term limits. Panelists suggested ways to uphold constitutional norms across the continent. This panel also discussed the role of political leaders and civil society in catering to citizen demands for regular democratic transitions. finally, this panel will built upon previous sessions and identified best practices to include in the Niamey Declaration of Principles to mobilize support for constitutional term limits across the continent.​

Panel VI: The Way Forward

Moderator

Dickson Omondi, NDI

Panelist

Former President Goodluck Jonathan (Nigeria)

Former President Catherine Samba-Panza (CAR)

Papa Ismaila Dieng, Africtivistes

Brice Mackosso, Tournons la Page

The final panel drew on discussions throughout the conference and looked towards the future to discuss ways in which summit participants could engage the movement for constitutional term limits on the continent.​