Katiba Institute convened a meeting for discussions around constitutional term limits. The meeting, held on 24 May 2023 in Nairobi, aimed to enhance media’s knowledge and understanding of the importance of advocating for constitutional term limits to promote good governance. This is part of the project on constitutional term limits that Katiba Institute in implementing supported by the National Democratic Institute(NDI).
Speaking during the event, Dickson Omondi the NDI’s Regional Director for Southern and East Africa provided the context of discussions around presidential term limits in Africa starting with the Niamey Summit on constitutional term limits in 2019. Omondi noted that the rise of authoritarian leaders in Africa and the trend by leaders’ attempts to remove or extend term limits led to discussions on presidential term limits in Africa. He said that term limits is a very important constitutional element in ensuring peaceful transfer of power, promote accountability and give an opportunity for new leaders to emerge. He called for vigilance in the whole concept of democracy including term limits.
Recognizing the influential role of the media, Omondi emphasized its significance in disseminating information about these crucial issues. He stressed that the media’s involvement was instrumental in facilitating peaceful transitions of power and supporting the institutions and constitutions that underpin politics in Africa.
Jill Cottrell Ghai, Chairperson of Katiba Institute board of Directors, made a presentation about media’s place in the constitutional term limits debate. She acknowledged the bias inherent in advocating for presidential term limits and emphasized the need for accurate debate information that includes diverse perspectives and arguments.
Ghai highlighted the significance of public awareness regarding term limits and stressed the role of investigative journalism in uncovering potential conflicts of interest, power consolidation, and corruption that could undermine constitutional democracy and the separation of powers. Ghai provided thought-provoking insights into the subject of term limits, urging a balanced approach to reporting and a thorough examination of historical and contextual factors. Her remarks underscored the importance of objective journalism in facilitating informed public debate and promoting democratic principles.
Other speakers at the event including Caroline Gaita, the Executive Director at Mzalendo Trust; Oloo Janak, the Chairman of the Kenya Correspondents Association; Victor Bwire from the Media Council of Kenya and Yvonne Anyango Oyieke from African Network of Constitutional Lawyers.
Participants agreed that media is an important player in any democracy and discussions on constitutional term limits. They urged journalists to utilize their spaces by providing a platform for discussions on constitutional term limits and highlight developments in the area.
Click on the title to read the presentation on how journalists should deal with the presidential term limits issue by Jill Cottrell Ghai
How journalists should deal with the presidential term limits issue
About the term limits project
Katiba Institute is implementing a project titled “Promoting democratic governance through Control of Power” with support from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) under the Constitutional Term Limits Initiative. The project aims to enhance knowledge and understanding on control of power through limitation of presidential terms and increase appreciation by civil society organizations, the media, academia, and the public on control of power as a key to good governance in Africa, the East African Region, with a specific focus on Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.