An initiative of a league of African kings led by Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, which had been planned to discuss an eventual African unity, in matters such as a single economy, currency and army, has encountered a fatal blow. The proposed meeting for the league of African traditional rulers called the ‘king of kings’ has been banned by the Ugandan government.
Almost 200 kings, princes, sultans, sheikhs and traditional leaders had been due to attend the meeting in Kampala on Tuesday to discus politics and elect a secretary general for the eastern zone of the organisation.
Although some pundits claim that the Ugandan ban was issued based on the government’s fear of a possible political control that could be gained by the traditional chiefs, the country’s constitution expressly prohibits traditional rulers from participating in active politics. It bans them from exercising “any administrative, legislative or executive powers of Government or local government.”
In a statement issued today Uganda’s Senior foreign ministry official, James Mugume, reiterated that having traditional rulers discuss political issues without a mandate from their governments could lead to instability.’
African constitutions and Kingship
A cursory look at several African constitutions on the subject reveals very strict laws on the legal powers and limits of traditional rulers. These laws are mostly enacted to ensure that traditional practices do not impinge on the fundamental rights of citizens, provided for, under the constitution.
In Ghana, for example, chiefs are insulated from partisan politics as the constitution clearly bans them from actively participating in politics. The constitution requires any chief who wishes to engage in active party politics or who wishes to contest election to Parliament to “abdicate his stool or skin.”
This could be one of the reasons Col Gaddafi, who has been a remarkable promoter of African unity for several years now, has failed to attract the support of Africa’s political leaders on the subject of traditional chiefs wielding political powers.
In as much as the group promises to discuss such positive initiatives as African unity, the idea of a political voice from the traditional chiefs is said to be unconstitutional in Uganda, thus prohibited on its soil.
Meanwhile, Col Gaddafi has been accused of launching the King of kings campaign to put unnecessary pressure on African governments to sign up to his visualisation of a one African government.