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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid