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

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More