Study on African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance in Anglophone West African Countries Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone By Francis Oppong Objectives of the Charter in a Nutshell • Adherence to principles of democracy and human rights • Rule of law premised on supremacy of constitutions • Promote regular free and fair elections • Strengthen governance institutions • Promote fight against corruption • Promote citizen participation and civil society • Promote gender balance • Promote best practices in the management of elections Findings Ghana • Charter signed on January 15, 2008, ratified on September 6, 2010 and deposited it with the African Union on October 19, 2010. • Generally Ghana has had very limited difficulty in implementing the Charter Ghana - Enabling Factors • General agreement between national constitution and Charter • Commitment to democracy • Political Stability • APRM • Desire to remain a model Ghana – Implementation Status/Evidence • Existence of an independent electoral commission • Separated arms of government • Elections (free and fair) as a way of electing governments • Rule of law (including procedures for seeking redress) • Democratized military • Respect for civil liberties • Independent human rights protection agency • Active civil society and media Ghana – Challenges • Limited financial resources of governance agencies (such EC and CHRAJ) • Lack of gender balance in management of private and government institutions • Abuse of political incumbency • Limited ability of Parliament to perform its oversight functions • Challenges with corruption • Poor knowledge of Charter Sierra Leone • Signed Charter on 17th June 2008, approved for ratification by Executive arm of government on August 14, laid before Parliament on November, ratified on February 17, 2009 and deposited with AU on December 8, 2009. • On the whole, Sierra Leone’s implementation of the Charter can be said to be somewhat satisfactory. Sierra Leone – Enabling Factors • Determination of successive governments to demonstrate some commitment to the promotion of democracy, elections and good governance • Lessons from a history of political breakdown • Constitution-Charter similarities Sierra Leone – Implementation Status • Existence of NEC • Political Party Registration Commission (PPRC) was established by an act of parliament to regulate the activities of political parties • Democratic and human rights commissions established (including office of an Ombudsman) • Domestic Violence Act- 2007; Devolution of Estate Act– 2007, Customary Marriage and Divorce Act 2007, and Child Rights Act 2007 Sierra Leone – Implementation Concerns • Overbearing influence of the government on the Police and other security agencies. • Inadequate financial and logistical resources for governance institutions • Corruption • Strong attention of international community to re-construction of democracy • Poor Knowledge of the Charter Nigeria • Though Nigeria was the 8th country to sign the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance on July 2nd 2007, she was the 14th to deposit the Charter with the AU on January 9, 2012. • Nigeria’s implementation of the Charter can be described as “hopeful” Evidence of the Hope • Strengthening of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) since 2010 to conduct more transparent elections; • Stability since return to constitutional rule • “Fairly democratized” army after long history of military interest in politics such that the Military Command remained highly professional following the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua; and • Appointment of the first female Chief Justice of the Nigerian Supreme Court, Hon. Justice Aloma Mariam Muktar. Yet Challenges • Most CSOs rely on the federal government funding to undertake their operations; • Politics in Nigeria are characterized not only by issues, but also by regional divisions with long standing historical, cultural, and religious roots • Extremely high perception of corruption, including corruption in the judiciary • Executive influence over other arms of government • Unsatisfactory balance of women representation in government Gambia • Signed Charter on January 21, 2008 • Yet, the government has made little progress towards the ratification of the Charter. A paradox? Den of Democratic Challenges? • Gambia’s political landscape remains highly constrained and authoritarian under President Yayha Jammeh; • Widespread intimidation of opposition parties; • High levels of media control by the ruling party and government; • The legal framework for Civil Society engagements including advocacy and lobbying are unfriendly; • Only few NGOs have active programs in democracy, transparency and human rights. Liberia • Signed on June 18 2008 but yet to ratify the Charter after over 4 years since signing • Critically, implementing the Charter should not be difficult the 1986 Constitution of Liberia shares a number of tenets/principles with the Charter. Liberia – Enabling Factors • Independence of the Election Management Body (Article 89) • Principle of non-discrimination (Article 8) • Fundamental Human Rights (Chapter 3) • Respect for the rule of law (Liberia’s Constitution confers the powers of final arbitar on the Supreme Court) • Press Freedom (The press is quite vibrant with minimal interference from the executive) Gains already? 1. First West African country to elect female president 2. Government is encouraging female students to pursue law 3. Every state was assigned a state counsel to ensure the people access justice. Liberia - Challenges? • Liberia’s law imposes restrictions on access to political power and particpation. (e.g. $ 25 K of real property value to contest for the office of President) • There is a significant degree of doubt in the country’s electoral system which resulted in the major opposition party boycotting the run-off of the 2011 elections; and • Strong perceptions of governments excessive influence over the security services. Implementation of Charter – Proxy of Performance Valuation Country Demand for Democracy Supply of Democracy Gap Ghana 82 74 -8 Liberia 81 59 -22 Nigeria 69 32 -37 Sierra Leone 76 61 -15 Institutions Country Trust of Electoral Commission Trust of Court/Judiciary Trust of Police Ghana 59 60 42 Liberia 43 45 32 Nigeria 34 43 16 Sierra Leone 56 51 34 Lessons Learnt • The signing, ratification and deposition of the Charter in Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone were facilitated by the existence of favourable Constitutions with similar provisions to those in the Charter. • The implementation activities have been accompanied by building of stronger institutions • However, governance institutions have been limited by resource challenges • There is limited knowledge about the Charter in West African countries Recommendations • National Coalition of civil societies should be organized to monitor their individual country implementation of the Charter; • Ratification and implementation of the Charter should be incorporated into the African Peer Review Mechanism to sustain the importance of the Charter; Recommendations • Handy copies of the Charter need to be distribution widely as a major campaign strategy; • More Civil Society Groups should be encouraged to concentrate on the promotion of the Charter as longer term projects; and • Periodic workshops should be organized to train Civil Society Activists on new strategies in the promotion of the Charter.