President of Central African Republic orders removal of top judge from Constitutional Court
The Kremlin, Moscow, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
President of Central African Republic orders removal of top judge from Constitutional Court

President of the Central African Republic Faustin-Archange Touadéra Monday fired the President of the Constitutional Court, Danièle Darlan by presidential decree, local news outlets reported.

Presidential decree number 22.454, signed on Monday and promulgated on national radio and television on Tuesday, specifically orders Darlan’s  removal from office. At the time of her removal, Darlan was a 70-year-old judge and university professor. The decree cites her forced retirement from professorship under an October 10 presidential order as a “definitive impediment.”

Darlan was elected by her fellow professors to represent the academic community at the country’s top court in 2017 for a term of seven years. According to article 102 of the March 30, 2016 constitution, once appointed, judges are irremovable for the duration of their term. On October 10, however, the president issued order 169, mandating the retirement of 28 university officials born between 1946 and 1955–which includes Darlan.

Authorities now argue that on account of her status as a retired professor, Darlan is no longer fit to serve as president of the constitutional court. However, both Darlan and Jean-Pierre Waboué, the Constitutional Court’s Vice-President, have affirmed that the president’s term as a constitutional judge is independent of the evolution of their teaching career.

For some, including opposition Member of Parliament Martin Ziguélé, this week’s decree is seen as the government taking revenge on the Constitutional Court for striking down a presidential decree creating a commission to rewrite the constitution last month. The creation of the commission was largely seen as an attempt by Touadéra to remove the constitutional two-term limit currently imposed on the office of president. Allies of Touadéra, who was elected for a second term in 2020, proposed removing the two-term limit last May to bring the country more in line with its neighbors.

The Republican Bloc for Defending the Constitution (BRDC), a coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups, issued a statement denouncing the decree as a “constitutional coup d’état.” The BRDC says it will challenge the decree before the Constitutional Court on Wednesday.