Ilwad Elman wins Alternative Nobel Prize
The German Africa Foundation warmly congratulates Ilwad Elman on being awarded with the Alternative Nobel Prize. The Right Livelihood Foundation honours the work of the Somali human rights activist who, together with her mother, receives the prize for her promotion of peace and demilitarisation in Somalia. With their organisation Elman Peace, the two women support survivors of gender-based violence, among others. Ilwad Eman is considered one of the leading voices in the Somali peace process and was awarded with the German Africa Award in 2020.
Central African Constitutional Court declares constitutional committee invalid
Last Friday, the Central African Constitutional Court declared the presidential decree convening a constitutional amendment committee invalid. The committee, consisting of representatives of the National Assembly and civil society as well as political parties, was appointed by President Faustin-Archange Touadéra at the end of August and was supposed to draft a new constitutional text within three months. Subsequently, the opposition, which refused to participate in the committee as did the Catholic Church, had filed a request for legal proceedings with the Central African Constitutional Court, as the new constitutional law was supposed to authorise President Touadéra to run for a third term. The chief justices granted the request and initiated court proceedings to review the committee, at the end of which they now declared the committee illegal on Friday. In their ruling, which cannot be appealed against, they explained that an amendment to the Basic Law could only be made with the participation of the Senate. However, the Senate has still not been established. Moreover, President Touadéra had sworn at the time of his swearing-in not to revise the number and duration of his terms of office; the presidential decree violates this commitment. As expected, the court’s ruling met with different opinions in the two political camps: The reform supporters, composed of supporters of the ruling party Mouvement cœurs unis, MCU (Eng.: United Hearts Movement) and the Front républicain (Eng.: Republican Front), protested in front of the court after the ruling, especially against the president of the court Danièle Darlan, and threw stones. The opponents of reform, consisting of the coalition bloc républicain pour la défense de la constitution, BRDC (Eng.: Republican Bloc for the Defence of the Constitution) and the opposition, also gathered and, despite their victory, continued to demonstrate against the constitutional reforms and demanded the immediate implementation of the repeal of the presidential decree. While the Front républicain is calling on President Touadéra to initiate a referendum on the constitutional amendment and is calling for further demonstrations today (Friday), the opposition wants to instruct the Supreme Court to charge President Touadéra with “high treason”.
Parliamentary elections in São Tomé and Príncipe
The opposition party Acção Democrática Independente (ADI) won the parliamentary elections in São Tomé and Príncipe on Sunday. These are the preliminary figures released on Monday evening by the National Electoral Commission CEN. The ADI also recorded gains in the regional elections that were held at the same time. Due to the delay in announcing the figures, there were protests by ADI activists near the CEN headquarters. Even before the official results were released, the country’s former prime minister and ADI party leader Patrice Trovoada had claimed victory for his party and announced that he would lead the next government. He had only returned in mid-September from his self-imposed exile in Portugal, where he had gone after his 2018 election defeat. The CEN now confirmed his party’s electoral victory. However, the Constitutional Court has yet to announce the exact distribution of the 55 parliamentary seats by party. Should the court confirm the ADI’s victory with an absolute majority, the party would not need a coalition partner, unlike the last government. In the last legislative period, the Movimento de Libertação de São Tomé e Príncipe – Partido Social Democrática (MLSTP-PSD) provided the prime minister in a fragile centre-left coalition with Jorge Bom Jesus. His popularity had plummeted since he took office in 2018, most recently corruption allegations overshadowed his party and the coalition partner Partido de Convergência Democrática (PCD) had distanced itself from the alliance. Thus, the ADI’s election victory came as little surprise, especially since voters’ favourability regularly swings back and forth between the ADI and the MLSTP-PSD. Accordingly, the MLSTP-PSD received the second most votes despite everything. Unlike many other African states, São Tomé and Príncipe has a semi-presidential system of government in which the office of prime minister is the most powerful. The president, who is also a member of the ADI since the last election in 2021, mainly has a ceremonial function.
In other news
John Chilembwe is the first African to be honoured with a statue at London’s Trafalgar Square. The statue of the Baptist pastor and Pan-Africanist from Malawi was unveiled on Wednesday. Chilembwe, born in the early 1870s, came into contact with the resistance of the African-American population against the racist structures of society while studying in the USA. Back in what was then Nyassaland, now Malawi, he initially engaged in peaceful public resistance against the British colonial rulers until he organised an armed rebellion in 1915. However, this was quickly suppressed and Chilembwe was shot while trying to flee to Portuguese East Africa, now Mozambique. Despite the unsuccessfulness of the resistance, the Malawian national hero is regarded by historians as one of the pioneers of the African independence movements. The sculpture, which is over 5 metres tall and was created by the artist Samson Kambalu, who was also born in Malawi, stands on the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square, where a new work of art is exhibited every two years. It is intended to contribute to Britain’s confrontation with its own colonial history.