News / Africa

Democratic Participation Said to Be Deepening in Africa

Amos Sawyer (Courtesy: African Peer Review Mechanism).Amos Sawyer (Courtesy: African Peer Review Mechanism).
x
Amos Sawyer (Courtesy: African Peer Review Mechanism).
Amos Sawyer (Courtesy: African Peer Review Mechanism).
James Butty
The outgoing chairman of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Panel of Eminent Persons said the process has increased democratic participation and promoted policy dialogue across Africa.  

Amos Sawyer, former interim president of Liberia, said more and more incumbent leaders are being defeated in multiparty elections.  

The comments came as the APRM celebrated 10 years of its founding.  

Its mandate is to encourage conformity among African countries in regard to political, economic and corporate governance values.  

Some critics say the peer reviews of individual countries have lacked citizen participation.
 
Sawyer said the APRM has made a difference in deepening democracy in Africa.

“For a country that joins the Peer Review process, it requires that you open up space to dialogue on development issues, political issues, and issues of corporate governance, economic management, and socio-economic development.  These types of issues are opened up for discussion by civil society.  They talk with the government on those and, together, they do an assessment,” he said.

Sawyer said, once the assessment is completed, it is sent to the Panel of Eminent Persons where it is discussed with the government being reviewed, and then recommendations are made.

Butty interview with Sawyer
Butty interview with Sawyeri
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

He denied the peer reviews lacked citizen participation and have not been tough on some of the governments being reviewed.

“As a consultant before I joined the Peer Review process in 2010, I had done one or two reports as a consultant on the team, and one was on South Africa in 2006, and it was indeed highly critical of the South African government on a few issues.  Similarly, even here in Ethiopia, there was contestation about certain elements of the report.  So, these are not reports done to sugarcoat things and provide an environment of good feelings to the leaders,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer said the APRM has made significant progress in the area of electoral reform in Africa.

“I think we are making considerable progress on electoral reform because remember the days when there were no term limits and a president could change the constitution at will and stayed [in power] forever.  I think those days are gone and term limits [have] kicked in.  Most constitutions provide for two terms and then leaders have to retire,” Sawyer said.

He said, while there may still be African countries where the leaders may be fiddling with constitutions to remain in power, democratic pluralism has taken root in many countries.

“What we are seeing now on the front end of progress, we are seeing democratic pluralism exists in honest [ways] and [is] gaining roots, and we are seeing with it democratic alternation, where parties lose and losing parties win next time.  Not only that, but we are seeing here where incumbents are being defeated, not only their parties,” he said.

On the fight against corruption, Sawyer said in some countries the fight is gaining strength, while it may be slower in others depending upon the nature of the political will and the nature of decision-making structures in a country.

“In other systems, where there might yet be strong institutions, if you don’t have strong enforcement, I think that can be a problem, too.  But then, there are countries where you have strong institutions and rule of law, and you have corruption minimized.  Our own peer review system has shown that some countries have done very well in the fight against corruption and some others are lagging a bit,” he said.

As of 2013, 30 countries have formally joined the APRM by signing its Memorandum of Understanding.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Behailu
January 31, 2013 12:31 PM
What is Sawyer's assessment of the situation in Ethiopia where many journalists and oppostion leaders are in prison over charges of terrorism. This was done to protect the tyrant from the Arab Spring. The incumbent party is in power for over 20 years. In 2010 election, this party won 99.6% of the seats in parilement, unheard of after the end of the Cold War. The party has become more and more repressive since it lost the election in 2005 and reversed it by force.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid