African Union (AU) ministers have approved a draft charter on democracy that details guidelines on elections and good governance. The document was unanimously approved during a weekend meeting in the Congolese capital, Brazzaville. The draft charter explicitly condemns coups and criticizes corruption. It also criticizes the practice of changing a constitution to extend a president's term of office. The draft will be put before the AU summit next month in the Gambia. Professor Korwa Adar is director of research at the Africa Institute of South Africa. English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje asked him what significance he sees in the unanimous approval of the draft document on democracy.
Korwa said of the draft, “I think it is useful. I mean it is an addition to some of the initiatives the African leaders have tried to put on the table for governing matters related to the continent….”
Although he says some may be skeptical of the AU in light of past failed initiatives and disregarded promises, he does not believe the current progress should be met with uncertainty.
“Obviously, during the inception of the AU, we were talking about a different time altogether, where the Cold War dominated a lot of things, and obviously things have changed. And obviously, what the AU has done since it was put in place since 2000, there are many things. If you look at the involvement of the African countries on the issue of peacekeeping in the continent. If you look at the issue of trying to make the AU a people-oriented organization; by that I mean, the right of the AU to intervene in the affairs of African states with matters pertaining to human rights or the issues of genocide and so on. That is the first time a continental organization has stipulated explicitly that it has those rights.“
Korwa says he believes democracy is a universal principle, adding, “It has nothing to do with Africa or any other part of the world. Democracy is nothing other than people themselves. Whether they are from Africa or Europe or US, it doesn’t make any difference. What it is important, is for the leaders to subscribe to those principles that would allow democracy to take root in whatever country we are talking about.”
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