Validating customs power of attorney
In February 1990 protracted strikes and popular protests finally forced Mathieu Kérékou, the long-serving dictator of the small West African country of Benin, to convene a “national conference.” A broadly representative, albeit extraparliamentary, assemblage of influential political, civic, and occupational groups and elites, the National Conference, drawing inspiration from the of eighteenth-century revolutionary France,1 declared itself sovereign and proceeded to enact far-reaching changes to the country's constitutional order.
It stripped Kérékou of all executive power, abolished the one-party system, installed an interim prime minister and legislature, and authorized the drafting of a new constitution that won popular approval as the basis for a democratic reconstitution of civil authority.
Single-party parliaments, military juntas, and presidents-for-life no longer dominate the political map of the continent, as they did at the end of the 1980s.
Yet Africa's “constitutional moment” has not received the scholarly attention it deserves.With the notable exception of South Africa, African nations continue to lie largely outside the mainstream of contemporary comparative constitutional discourse.