A parliamentary system will weaken the authority of the executive branch, which will then disincentive political leaders to seek political power to serve their own interests. What other political system can we proposed to attenuate the political instability that rules the African continent? It is undeniably true that the Africa continent is, unfortunately, the most impoverished continent of all of the continents in the world. One of the reasons why the African continent is poor is because of a lack of political stability. This lack of political stability in Africa is due, not to its lack of democratic rule, but to the kind of political system most African countries have. Indeed, most of the continent’s 54 countries have a presidential system of government in which the executive branch retains significant power and authority over the management of society. The presidential system is a form of government in which the president is the chief executive and is directly elected by the people and retains the authority to enforce the rules that govern society. The reason why the presidential regime is a conundrum in Africa is because African political leaders seek political power to ascertain their own influence rather than actually serving the interest of the people. A Shallow Endeavor A presidential system allows such shallow endeavor to actually take place. The essential predicament with the presidential system in most African countries is that the power of the president is unchecked since he—and it is almost always as he—has absolute power over the two other branches of government in practice, while in theory, the constitution clearly states the principles of separation of powers. For example, the first president of Côte d’Ivoire, Houphouet-Boigny, had all the political power concentrated in the executive branch although the Ivorian constitution explicitly indicates that the legislative and the judiciary branches have authority to check the power of the executive branch. The legislators of the Ivorian National Assembly from 1960 to 1990, rather than being elected by the people; were instead directly appointed by President Houphouet-Boigny. This redundant method of consolidating power in the hands of one political leader or a branch of government, has been the essence of the political instability that reigns in Africa since the independence era.
Félix Houphouët-Boigny, the 1st President of Côte d’Ivoire who served for 33 years between 3 November 1960 and 7 December 1993
In our political systems, especially in our so-called republics with a presidential system, the head-of-state is acts like republican monarch, which means that he acts like a monarch in a republican system of government. Indeed, the president acts unilaterally without the respect of the prerogatives of the two other branches of government. What permits this unilateral style of governance is the subversion that the president exercises upon the concept of the rule of law. The head-of-state acts as an unchecked monarch who believes to be above the rule of law. As most politicians are seeking political power, they perceive the presidential system as a kingdom in a modern system wherein they can govern and control society as monarchs used to do during the medieval times. For example, Paul Biya, the Cameroonian president, has been in office since 1982. He has confiscated the presidency from the people by organizing fair and transparent elections. In 2018, Cameroon held its presidential election in which President Biya was reelected with 71 percent of the popular vote. Evidently, in 2008, Paul Biya maneuvered to change the Cameroonian Constitution in order to allow him to serve beyond the conventional two-term that most unitary republics follow. Moreover, the powers of the Cameroonian legislature and judiciary are plainly irrelevant, undermined and worthless to whatever laws and regulations President Biya may enforce. For example, Biya can override a law that the legislature has passed democratically if that law directly subverts or challenges its authority.
Paul Biya, 2nd President of Cameroon serving since 6 November 1982
This existence outside the law within a presidential system is why the majority of political systems in Africa are unstable. Since the 1960s, most African countries have opted for a presidential system. But the specific style of the system that most countries have adopted has resulted in one sociopolitical crisis after another. The Alternative for a Parliamentary Regime What other political system can we propose to attenuate the political instability that rules the continent? A parliamentary regime could be a viable alternative to advance the rule of law in Africa. A parliamentary system is arguably the better and valid alternative to attenuate political instability because the parliamentary system prevents an individual to unilaterally govern an entire society while unchecked. In other words, it constrains the power of the chief of the executive branch. In a parliamentary, the legislative branch will be the most powerful actor. Political power will not be concentrated in the hands of one single individual nor in one single branch. The main task of a parliamentary system will be to equalize political power within the respective branches of government by ensuring that each branch of government checks the activity of one another. Of course, the United States does have a presidential system in which the system of checks and balances operates adequately, but a parliamentary system in Africa will provide sufficient grounds to ensure that one branch does not overstep its power over the other two branches. That equalization of powers enhances the sovereignty and the independence of the judiciary. For example, the Republic of South Africa is a parliamentary system with a president as the head-of-state. But the president is elected by the South African legislature rather than being directly elected by the people. The reason why the South African system is designed that way, is to check the power of the head of the executive branch and to ascertain the independence of the judiciary vis-à-vis the two other branches.
South African Parliament on session
The parliamentary system, as a matter of fact, reduces the power of government as whole over the individual. Indeed, a parliamentary system is a form of deterrence against any potential dictatorship on the rise. A parliamentary system will weaken the authority of the executive branch, which will then disincentivize political leaders to seek political power to serve their own interests. If the executive branch is significantly weakened, political leaders will not try to maintain themselves in power by all means. They will not be able to use the military for intimidation whenever it is convenient for them to do so, they will be unable to make laws without the consent of the legislature and the validation of the judiciary. In other words, in a parliamentary system, the power of the politicians will be constrained, which will also reduce the powers of the state as an organization of institutions. We have always decried for the need for democracy on our continent, but if democracy is slow in implementation, it is because our leaders are not willing to change the system that personally benefits them. So long as they refuse to make that sacrifice for the greater good of the continent, the African people will continue to suffer, while our leaders will continue to acquire more power for themselves. The path to the political development of the majority of most African countries is the abolition of the presidential system for a parliamentary system—one in which the will of the people is truly respected and upheld.
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  1. Awesome post! Keep up the great work! 🙂

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