The AU and the Challenge of Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Africa

"This paper examines the policy position of the AU with regard to ‘Unconstitutional Changes of Government’(UCG)in Africa. After analysing the definition of the concept or phenomenon of UCG, at least from the viewpoint of the African Union (AU), with a special emphasis on the phenomenon of ‘military coup d’état’, the policy position is critically assessed, looking at its rationale and effectiveness. With shortcomings identified in this regard, the paper highlights some important issues to be considered to enhance the preventive impact of the policy. The overall objective of the paper is to suggest certain measures susceptible to at least minimise the risk of military coups d’état and other forms of unconstitutional changes of government on the continent. The paper appeals to African leaders to speedily ratify the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance in order to provide the AU with a legally binding instrument that not only condemns unconstitutional changes of government, but also prevents auto-legitimisation of coupmakers through often charade elections."