In DepthThe QuestionShould presidents enjoy immunity from prosecution?


Posted on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 16:31

Should presidents enjoy immunity from prosecution?

By The Africa Report

As Zambia's former President Rupiah Banda faces corruption charges, politicians and civil society activists ask if immunity for politicians is a useful policy for developing democracies.

YES The Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) fully supports the fight against corruption, and our position on this matter was in no way intended to shield former President Rupiah Banda or any other person from being held accountable for any wrongdoings that they may have committed while in public office. However, the MMD was firmly against the removal of the immunity from prosecution of Banda on the basis it was undertaken. We oppose in principle the removal of immunity from prosecution of former presidents. We believe the removal of former presidents' immunity achieves nothing but compromises our security as a country. It was evident that some of the accusations against the former president would include inquiries on campaign finances and materials, some of which were donated from friendly sources within the region. The possibility of this action having a negative effect in the diplomatic relations of our country is a matter that always has to be carefully handled. The office of the republican president is a complex one, and the custodian needs to dispense his duties on behalf of the country without fear of favour and also without fears that 'I will be arrested once I am out of this office.' ● NEVERS MUMBA - President, Movement for Multiparty Democracy, Zambia


NO It's not necessary to give immunity to a former head of state. It's not necessary because when you accept the heavy responsibility to be the leader of your country, it is an honour after which you should be a free man. It is therefore not necessary to take special dispositions. The men who aspire to become head of state have to understand that this function does not give them a pretext for permanent impunity. In some countries, there has been immunity or amnesty for heads of state so that they accept a change in power. I don't agree with this, even if one can understand that it's sometimes necessary for our African democracies under construction. Even when all dispositions are taken at a national level, there are international jurisdictions that do not take into account immunities granted within a country. It is these measures that should lead current heads of state to become realistic and reasonable, so they know that if they abuse the system, they will not be able to escape international justice. The world has changed. We need governance to change too. Heads of state arriving in power to serve their people need to accept the terms of their mandate as laid out in the constitution, to cede their position to and be fully responsible for their actions until the end. ● ABLASSÉ OUÉDRAOGO - MP and president of Le Faso Autrement political party, Burkina Faso

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