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Government resignation in case of failure: An unthinkable act in Africa

20.02.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
The resignation of a government in case of failure is a rare phenomenon in Africa, which seems to be inexistent. This act perceived by many as honorable, remains the least shared view by African governments. In the West, the initiative is nevertheless conceivable and recurrent when the objectives assigned to the government are not achieved.
With a prime minister appointed by the head of state, the government is an organ linked to the executive power. Working in close collaboration with the parliament, her role is to lead the politics of the Nation by putting into practice decisions made in ministerial councils. The penalty imposed on a government that has failed in its prerogatives is the request for his resignation. Many other reasons can open the door to this path.

GOVERNMENT RESIGNATION: REASONS

The resignation of the government is presented by the Prime Minister. The president of the republic can also assume this responsibility when the head of the government is part of his political family.

In general, it is after the legislative or presidential elections that the government is dissolved. This case of courtesy resignation is the only one that most governments in Africa bend. Yet other events can bring about the end of a government, especially in the case of a disagreement with the President of the Republic on a specific subject. The most obvious example is that dating back to 1976 in France. In disagreement with President Giscard d’Estaing on the solutions to be adopted to face the economic crisis that France was going through, Jacques Chirac, then prime minister, handed his resignation to President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, with the excuse that he did not have what it takes to carry out his duties as  Prime Minister effectively.

The voluntary resignation of a government may also be related to its political responsibility. On 18 December 2018 in the midst of a crisis with the opposition on the subject of the Marrakech pact on migration, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel announced his resignation in front of the House of Representatives. He later went to the palace to announce the withdrawal of his government to King Phillipe. Frustrated by his inability to set up his reforms in a minority government where the NV-A constantly threatened to leave the majority, Charles Michel preferred to drop the baton of leadership. As a result, the King announced that the head of the federal government can no longer fully exercise his duty, but will only deals with current affairs, pending the upcoming legislative elections scheduled for May.

The resignation of the government can also occur following the vote of a motion of no confidence by the National Assembly against the government. The dissolution of the government is then validated if the vote is approved by an absolute majority of the members. A similar decision was arrived at in 1962 in France under the Fifth Republic when the government of Georges Pompidou resigned

The vote of censure remains a real threat in the hands of the National Assembly which through this weapon, may express dissatisfaction with the actions of the government or call on its commitments.

In Gabon, a similar measure was taken in 2018 not by the National Assembly but by the Constitutional Court. The high court that had called for the resignation of the National Assembly had also demanded that the government be dissolved. The court justified its decision with the government’s inability to organize the legislative elections scheduled since December 2016, after two postponements.

IMPUNITY OF GOVERNMENTS IN AFRICA

In Africa, the threat of a vote of no confidence remains unrealistic, as is the voluntary departure of governments. In a political environment marked by poor governance, corruption, governments that are similar to oligarchies are circles where we find members from the same political party who are accountable only to Head of State, the only guarantor of their appointment. Departures occur as a result of dismissal or reshuffle.

In Cameroon, the huge financial scandal that led to the withdrawal of the CAN 2019 and whose government team of President Biya is accused of being responsible for would have been a strong argument for a voluntary resignation from the government, but that was not the case. To make matters worse, the cabinet reshuffle announced with a great fanfare after Paul Biya’s victory in the presidential election maintained and even promoted those responsible for the disappointments that led to the withdrawal of the prestigious competition in Cameroon, instead of sanctioning them.

In Nigeria, President Buhari’s governments are also blamed for failing to show responsibility by resigning after failing to find solutions to the security problems facing the country. In 2018, Nigeria experienced an escalation of violence marked by the attacks and kidnappings of the Boko Haram group but also the inter-community conflicts between Christian farmers and nomadic Muslim herdsmen. Clashes that caused the death of nearly 1,000 people according to Human Rights Watch and affected the economy of the country including the agricultural sector.

Burkina Faso is the African example of the resignation of a government, which happened on 18 January 2019, when Prime Minister Paul Kaba Thiéba and his government resigned. Though information on the real reasons for this decision has not been officially disclosed, it is undoubtedly in light of recent events in the country that are related to recurrent jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, who has made the fight against insecurity a major challenge to his mandate, called for the dissolution of this government team. They finally yielded to the demands of several civil society actors dissatisfied with the degrading security situation in the country and who had been demanding for the departure of some members of the government for months, including ministers responsible for National Defense and Territorial Security.

The resignation of a government in case of bad results remains an act that illustrates the political responsibility of a government team towards the population. The refusal of African governments to comply with this kind of prerogatives raises the question of the impunity that prevails in our African societies where the bad example often begins at the highest summit of the State.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Credit image: google images/government resignation

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