Managing Elections, Democracy and Development towards Political Stability in Africa, (3)

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Ambassador Usman Sarki concludes his trilogy on this subject:

Normative and institutional frameworks against coups and unconstitutional changes of government are not lacking in Africa. Both the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the African Union (AU) were founded on the principles of the sovereign equality of all African nations and the supremacy of the rule of law in their arrangements. internal policies. The AU Constitutive Act places great importance on democratic governance and the rule of law, and rejects the forced alteration of political arrangements in member states, whether through coups or revolutionary insurgencies. , as evidenced by its articles three and four for example.

The law also defines the common denominators and standards for African countries to establish credible democratic practices and to imbibe the general principles of good governance and the rule of law as the foundation of civil society and inclusive political processes. . Regional arrangements aimed at safeguarding democratically elected governments on the continent were therefore put in place as early as 1990. The “Declaration on the political and socio-economic situation in Africa and the fundamental changes underway in the world and the Africa”, was adopted during the twenty-sixth ordinary session of Heads of State and Government of the OAU in Addis Ababa, in July 1990. It coincided with the end of the cold war and the dismantling of the apartheid system in South Africa. .

He addressed the underlying causes of instability in Africa, noting the prevalence of conflict, poor economic performance, external debts and food insecurity as constituting serious adversity for the continent, while emphasizing the need for popular participation of African peoples in governance and development processes. . Paragraphs ten and eleven of the Declaration in particular underscore the importance of consolidating democracy in Africa, with the active participation of youth and women in all processes of government in their countries. They also stressed the importance of peace and security for the deepening of democracy on the continent.

The “African Charter for Popular Participation in Development”, adopted in Addis Ababa also in July 1990, was a reaffirmation of the need to provide Africans with the opportunities to update themselves in the political and development arenas, and to achieve the mission of inclusion in all areas. Member States. Similarly, the “Cairo Program of Action” on the economic and social development of Africa of 1995 provided the means to strengthen the normative frameworks of the OAU with a view to creating the conditions necessary for the deepening of the democracy, human rights and the rule of law on the continent. . The “Agenda” notably emphasized the need for free and fair elections, freedom of the press, of association and of conscience which form the basis of democracy.

The OAU “Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government” (Algiers Declaration of 1990) is particularly relevant to our topic on unconstitutional changes of governments. This anticipates the phenomenon of violent changes in the political and governance systems of Member States and creates mechanisms to deal with such unhealthy actions. The OAU also adopted the “Declaration on the Framework for an OAU Response to Unconstitutional Changes of Government” (Lomé Declaration of July 2000) in Member States in which they affirmed their belief in democratic governance and repudiated all forms of unconstitutional changes of government in Africa. the continent. The Lomé and Algiers declarations both contain clear guidelines for avoiding undemocratic power grabs and offer courses of action to mitigate such mishaps.

The Organization has further established an additional framework in the form of the “Solemn Declaration on the Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA) in 2000, which contains bold statements on the desirability peace, security and stability in Africa”. , as prerequisites for good governance and vice versa. The CSSDCA gave further impetus to the 1997 Harare Summit Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government, which later translated into the 1999 Algiers Declaration. The CSSDCA is particularly significant in its recognition of the four main factors which could advance the cause of democracy in Africa, known as the “gourds”, namely security, stability, development and cooperation, based on the general principles of good governance, respect for human rights man and peoples and the rule of law.

In 2002, the OAU transitioned to the AU, with member states agreeing to endorse the “Declaration on Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa” ​​which contained general principles on the conduct of democratic elections in Africa, with a additional emphasis on member responsibilities. – States as well as the rights and obligations of citizens with a view to establishing sustainable democratic cultures across the continent. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted in Nairobi in 1987 is of course prior to all the aforementioned instruments, and gave rise to institutional frameworks, in particular the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights to rule where appropriate on the rights enjoyed by Africans. universally on their continent which includes the right to freely choose their systems of government.

The overarching normative framework on elections and democratic governance in Africa is the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) which was adopted in 2007 by the African Union in Addis Ababa, five years after the transformation of the OAU into the AU. This historical framework guides the approach to democratic governance on the continent, while the AU Constitutive Act itself serves as a bulwark against forced changes of government in any of its member states. ACDEG has been instrumental in ensuring that African countries stay the course on democratic governance and in avoiding a relapse into unconstitutional practices such as forced changes of government. Article 2 of the Charter, in particular, remains an important safeguard against instability and disruptions in the peaceful transition of power in democratic contexts governed by the rule of law in Africa.

The article aims in particular to promote adherence to the ethics and universal values ​​of democracy and respect for human rights. It is based in particular on the promotion of the rule of law based on the ascendancy of the constitutional order over any other factor or interest. Beyond these instruments, the AU then established sanction regimes against lost adventurers who might find it opportune and profitable to flout these principles. The Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) of the body is empowered to recommend to the Assembly appropriate measures as prohibitions and sanctions in case of violation of the continental frameworks of democratic governance.

This is in line with the provisions of Article Seven (g) of the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (2003) and Article Thirty of the AU Constitutive Act. The Charter reiterates the fundamental principles and values ​​that have been established by the OAU/AU over several years of deliberation, and sets out the essential attributes of democratic governance in Africa. Chapters two and three describe the basic objectives and purposes of the Charter, which include adherence to universal principles and values ​​of democracy and respect for human rights.

The chapter also outlines “do’s” and “don’ts” in governance, such as upholding the rule of law and promoting good governance, and rejecting corruption and arbitrary change. of government in the Member States. Similarly, chapters four and five discuss the general attributes of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as the basic preconditions necessary for the establishment of democratic cultures in Africa. Basically, Chapter Eight outlines the sanctions that should be imposed against errant regimes in situations of forced or unconstitutional changes of government in Africa.

Therefore, Africa has a well-established tradition of democratic governance based on the principles and aspirations that have been enunciated for several decades in regional apex organizations as far back as 1987. However, establishing general principles and observing them in violation rather than in practice is a totally different and unforeseen result that has to do with the configuration and conditions prevailing in the various Member States of the African Union. Any multilateral organization made up of independent and sovereign states can only function according to the whims and whims of its individual constituents.

The fact that there is a relapse in unconstitutional changes of government in some African countries does not in itself presage the incapacity or deficiency of the African Union. It simply exposes the inherent instability of many African states whose internal contradictions and serious organizational shortcomings have gone unresolved through decades of mismanagement and corruption. However, it takes the insistence and probably a collective will of the members of the African Union to put an end to the anachronistic military adventurism that is showing up in Africa.

The AU Peace and Security Council should now be fundamentally geared towards dealing swiftly and decisively with issues related to the instability caused by poor electoral practices and poor governance in Africa, without losing sight of the much more serious incidents like terrorism, conflicts and other threats to peace and peace. security on the continent. Countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, Algeria, Kenya, Angola, Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and others should be more willing and willing to take the initiative to create conditions conducive to the irreversible achievement of democratic governance in Africa.

This would of course be a daunting challenge, given that in some of these countries the foundations of democratic governance are still fragile and rather nebulous, with constitutional amendments underway to extend the terms of office of rulers, making it flawed. OAU Ethos and Principles/ AU Normative Frameworks.

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