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.
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Study on African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good