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

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Kurdish service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs