EA countries urged to ratify charter on democracy

07Mar 2016
Getrude Mbago
The Guardian
EA countries urged to ratify charter on democracy

THE East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and EAC Council of Ministers have been urged to encourage partner states to facilitate an urgent process of signing, ratifying and depositing the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

Dr Godwin Murunga

Presenting the recommendations during the closure of the 9th Inter-parliamentary Relations Seminar (Nanyuki Series) in Dar es Salaam at the weekend, one of the panelists Dr Godwin Murunga said only one (Rwanda) out of the five members has signed and ratified the charter.

He said EALA and council of ministers should support the creation of conditions within respective partner states that facilitate the holding of free, fair and credible elections while understanding that these are a prerequisite for legitimate post election governance systems.

“Necessary mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that the elections are not drivers of violence within partner states but the basis for accountable governance and sustainable peace,” Murunga noted.

The participants agreed that ways should be created to address the gendered deficit in the conduct of politics in the region by providing mechanisms to support participation of women and youth in political parties as a way of ensuring equitable access.

They also urged that credible ways should be found to fast track integration of minorities, marginal and marginalized groups and communities in politics.

The conference also advised for analysis of the existing benchmarks for democratic elections in the EAC to determine how they harmonies with those of other regional and pan-African organisations and where major differences exist, work towards harmonizing them in order to have the synergy needed for their effective implementation.

Other recommendation was the review of the election observation standards and methodology to make them comprehensive and ensure that election observation reports address the overall integrity of the elections.

“Work towards strengthening the electoral process as a whole to ensure that all integral aspects of the process including registration, voter registers political party nominations, actual balloting, and counting and results management meet requirements enriched in the principles adopted by the EAC,” he noted.

In 2007, an African Union (AU) summit approved a new African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. The charter aimed at shifting Africa further in the direction of “the universal values and principles of democracy and respect for human rights”.

Among other provisions, it recognises “the supremacy of the constitution” and stipulates that any revisions of constitutions be based on “national consensus.” It also prohibits any “perpetrators” of unconstitutional changes from participating in subsequent elections and even warns that coup makers may be tried before an African court.

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