In June 2017, I visited, for the first time, Addis Ababa, the famous capital city of Ethiopia and ‘Africa’, and the home of ‘Ras Tafari’. On the side-lines of my 12-day visit, I took time to note some interesting sights and sounds of my stay in Addis Ababa and to share some of my own personal reflections on them for the benefit of my audience. The issues discussed have been thematically Continue reading


In June 2017, I visited, for the first time, Addis Ababa, the famous capital city of Ethiopia and ‘Africa’, and the home of ‘Ras Tafari’. On the side-lines of my 12-day visit, I took time to note some interesting sights and sounds of my stay in Addis Ababa and to share some of my own personal reflections on them for the benefit of my audience. The issues discussed have been thematically arranged to make for easy comprehension. As my blog aims to do, I hope that sharing these reflections Continue reading

Ongoing Research Project

Understanding Governments of National Unity in Africa: Context, Design and Rationale

Intra-state conflicts in Africa have resulted in many governments formed out of power-sharing agreements in what is usually christened as ‘Government of National Unity’ (GoNU) (sometimes called Unity Government or Coalition Government). Whilst this term is popularly used in mass media, political discourse and also in academia, it is employed without consideration for the latent but significant variations that exist in context, institutional design and rationale of such governments of national unity. Hence this qualitative study aims at exploring GoNUs in Africa and tracing African Union (AU/OAU) policy on the growing concept in post-colonial Africa.

The study focuses on 15 unity governments (GoNUs) in Africa over the period of 1978 to 2016. They include Burundi, DRC, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe. The literature suggests that the background circumstances surrounding the GoNU formation influences the rationale for its formation and the political institutions designed to support the government. The literature also suggests that the AU’s stature as the most prominent regional actor has made it a key facilitator in the formation of GoNUs over the years. Hence the objective is to explore the AU policy perspective on this GoNU phenomenon. It also aims at detecting the evolution in AU (OAU) policy and practice vis-à-vis how GoNUs have been formed over the years on the continent. I therefore intend to interview persons within the following target expert groups:

• Officials from the political, peace & security as well as legal departments of the AU who have knowledge or experience in the AU’s involvement in the formation of GoNUs and other power-sharing governments
• Officials from the Office of the AU Panel of the Wise with knowledge in the Panel’s recommendations for the management of post-election and post-conflict governance crisis
• Officials with working knowledge in the application of the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance

The questions under consideration include:

1. What circumstances motivate the AU’s support for the formation of a GoNU?
2. In the AU’s view, what is the right timing or under what circumstances does the proposal of a GoNU become admissible or welcome?
3. The literature suggests that GoNUs have been formed in all sub-regions of the continent, how much of knowledge sharing is encouraged across sub-regions?
4. How do the AU and its REC relate to one another in their policy/practice vis-à-vis GONUs? i.e. is there any division of labour between these two actors?
5. Does the AU have any current (or past) policy that is specific to GoNUs, beyond just power-sharing? How does the AU apply this in practice if there is any?
6. Which actors within the AU take responsibility for advising on GoNU constitutional legal engineering? How much external (non-AU) input goes into the legal reforms?
7. How much flexibility is allowed in creating a GoNU framework? Does that raise concerns about the risks of creating room for arbitrariness and bias?
8. What is the AU’s comment on the procedures used to install GoNUs, i.e elections, appointments?
9. Is the formation of a GoNU expected to lead to an expansion, maintenance or reduction in government size? What are the AUs comments regarding the type and number of stakeholders to include in a GoNU? Besides, does it matter the level of governance at which certain stakeholders are included?
10. How is the general idea of power sharing different from the specific concept of GoNU?
11. What are the AU’s comments on the limitation that GoNUs generally seem to place on competitive multi-party politics? How does this impact the AUs objectives of promoting competitive multi-party democracies? Are there any policies or conventions guiding this limitation of political competition?
12. Democratisation or violence mitigation: what is the primary purpose for supporting the formation of GoNUs?
13. Does the AU consider or expect the GoNU to be an exception rather than a norm in governance practice in Africa?
14. GoNU has become a popular term for many post-crisis government of political accommodation, even in cases where the agreement does not clearly state that. What could be the motivation?
15. Are there any instances where the AU’s intention of supporting a GoNU has differed from that of conflict parties or other parties?

Gambia: Yahya Jammeh and the ECOWAS’ R2P

Source: BBC

In the heat of the moment, when virtually the ‘whole world’ was on the heels of Yahya Jammeh to end his overstay in office after the election victory of a new leader, I took sometime to reflect on the exceptional courage of the West African community of states, and why I thought the intended military action was justifiable. I call it the ECOWAS’ R2P, and you can read my analysis in this link as published by the Initiative for Policy Research and Analysis (InPRA)

Ghana’s Elections: Why is there ‘less trust’ despite more transparency?



Prior to Ghana’s  general elections peacefully organised and concluded between 7-10 December 2016, the run-up to the event was marked by high levels of stakeholder suspicion for the electoral process. This was a huge paradox considering that Ghana’s electoral process was among the world’s most transparent. I wrote an opionion article seeking to proffer some explanations for this and it was published through two of  Ghana’s  major media outlets; MyJoyonline and Citifmonline. It was also published by the international policy analysis  think-thank, InPRA. Find the article here

What I said in my Graduation Speech


Dennis Penu (MSc Governance & Development)

On 12 September 2016, I had the privilege of presenting a graduation speech on behalf of the 2015-2016 class of graduating advanced master students from the Institute of Development Policy and Management, University of Antwerp, Belgium. I share with you what I said to the public audience that day. The audio-visual of that speech starts at time 1:30:00 in the recorded proceedings located in this link

Distinguished Guests, new students, ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of myself and my colleagues I thank you for making time to share in this memorable time of achievement with us as we graduate from this rigorous training process at the Institute of Development Policy and Management of the University of Antwerp. One of the very first clauses we heard during our training here is: ‘Asia is not a country’. Continue reading

UN’s ‘ISIL Resolution’: Implications


©UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

Clearly, the UN ‘ISIL Resolution’  did not intend to authorize military action in principle. Nevertheless, I think that it has authorized it in practice.As a result, the France-UK-US alliance may seem now united with Russia in ‘action’; but not in ‘intention’ about operations in Syria. In this article I discuss why the UN’s Resolution 2249 may not intend to, but could awaken ‘the ghosts of Muammar Ghaddafi and Saddam Hussein’ . Find the article here: UN’s ‘ISIL Resolution’: Implications