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Different powers assault African constitutions

--Prof. Lumumba tells lawyers

Prof. Lumumba has warned that it is dangerous for the Judiciary in African Countries to be funded by international institutions like the USAID and World Bank, among others, because it will serve the pleasure of these institutions.

By Lincoln G. Peters

Monrovia, May 9, 2024: Kenyan lawyer and Pan-Africanism activist Prof. Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba says African constitutions are invaluably under assault by different powers.

Speaking in Monrovia Wednesday, 8 May 2024, Dr. Lumumba stated that these powers want to change African constitutions to have Africa ‘democratized,’ whatever democratize means to them.

Addressing the International Association of Judges Conference, Prof. Lumumba suggested that achieving judicial independence is not merely a matter of institutional design.

The conference was held on the theme: “Building Integrity Through Positive Action; a means of Ensuring an Independent Judiciary.’’

“African constitutionals are invaluably under assault by different powers who want to change them in the quest to have Africa democratized, whatever democratized means,” said Prof. Lumumba. 

“After the 1900s, there was this breed of new constitutional dispensation when the Western World convinced many African Countries that democracy equaled having [a] free press and free civil society, which led to [the amendment] of their constitution,” Prof. Lumumba noted.

Prof. Lumumba is a notable Pan-Africanist and has delivered several speeches alluding to or about African solutions to African problems. 

He is an admirer of Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, and of Patrice Lumumba and Thomas Sankara, the assassinated revolutionary leaders of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burkina Faso, respectively.

The great Kenya scholar Lumumba has referred to and quoted them several times in his speeches. Lumumba is also remembered for his emotion-laden and energetic speech in Uganda at the third Anti-Corruption Convention. 

According to him, Africa doesn’t have a constitution reflecting the culture and tradition of its continent and people.

Therefore, he suggested that Western power defines and tells Africa what the constitution is and what it entails, something he said has placed the continent in crisis.

He disclosed that before the nineteenth century, Africa had a constitution that mirrored different African traditions and cultures that the people could identify with.

After the colonial rule in Africa, he noted that the African continent was again forced to formulate a constitution demanded by the Western Power.

Prof. Lumumba detailed that when those amendments were being considered, the independence of the Judiciary was discussed.

But he argued that the Judiciary’s independence should start with government funding.

If the Judiciary is funded by international institutions like USAID and the World Bank, among others, he said it allows the judiciary to work according to the pleasure of the institutions providing the funding. He warned that this practice is dangerous.

The National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia has been hosting the African Regional Group Conference and the International Conference of the International Association of Judges (IAJ) in Monrovia.

The conference is expected to climax on Thursday, 10 May 2024.  Several legal personalities and officials have attended the conference, including Vice President Jeremiah K. Koung, Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh, the Supreme Court Bench, Ghana’s Chief Justice, the president and members of the Liberia National Bar Association, Liberia Female Lawyers, and the Diplomatic Community. 

At the end of the conference’s first session, Prof. Lumumba was gowned with Liberian-made traditional clothes for his service and advocacy and for honoring their invitation. 

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