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African parliaments: Do they carry any real political weight?

By Olivier Marbot
Posted on Tuesday, 6 July 2021 20:02

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari presents the 2021 budget to the national assembly in Abuja, Nigeria 8 October 2020. Nigeria Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

Parliaments on the African continent struggle to fulfil their legislative role, with the overbearing figure of the head of state – seen as alone embodying public authority – often taking centre stage and relegating the legislature to the background as a mere rubber-stamp. But things are changing, says author Nayé Anna Bathily. 

Do parliaments occupy their rightful place in African political life? If you have to ask the question, you already know that the answer is “no”.

In many African countries, whether their institutions are modelled along British or French lines, political life often, if not exclusively, revolves around the head of state and his or her inner circle. But that is changing, according to Nayé Anna Bathily’s new French-language book, L’Eveil des Parlements Africains [Africa’s Parliamentary Awakening].