Ghana adopts African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance

Posted: July 22, 2010 in Politics
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Ghana’s Parliament by unanimous decision on Thursday adopted the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. Ghana, thus, becomes the six Member State after Lesotho, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Mauritania to ratify the Charter.

Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, Ghana's Minister for Foreign Affairs

The Charter aims at consolidating the gains of democratic governance in Africa. It also seeks to entrench a culture of change of political power through the holding of regular, free, fair and transparent elections.

Furthermore, the Charter also seeks to enhance existing relevant declarations and decisions of the erstwhile Organization of African Union (OAU), now AU on politics, constitutional changes and peace and security in Africa.

In addition, Member States of the African Union that acceded to the Charter, commit themselves to establishing and strengthening independent and impartial national electoral bodies responsible for the management of elections and to ensure that there is a binding code of conduct during and after the election period.

The Charter makes emphasis on political party pluralism and free elections as essential tools in the democratic dispensation of a country. To that effect, it outlines the principles of the role, rights and responsibilities of political parties, including opposition parties.

It has clauses that mandate the Peace and Security Council of the AU to sanction unconstitutional changes of governments in the continent.

However, the Charter required the ratification of at least fifteen Member States for it to be implemented among the laws of all AU Member States but as mentioned earlier, only five Member States with Ghana being the Sixth Member, has signed it.

Moving the motion for the adoption of the Charter, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Francis Osei-Sarfo observed that the ratification of the Charter will not supersede already existing favorable provisions on democracy and good governance in Ghana but would compliment same.

According to him, the adoption of the Charter will commit Member States to submit biennial reports on legislative or other measures that have been taken with a view to giving effect to the principles of the Charter.

With its adoption and ratification, Ghana is committed to adequately resourcing public institutions that promote and support democracy and constitutional order in the country, noted Osei-Sarfo.

The Committee further observed that as the beacon of democracy and good governance in Africa, Ghana must not only merely sign and ratify the Charter, but must be seen to be playing a frontal role in ensuring that other countries ratify the agreement. “This can only be possible if Ghana shows the way by ratifying the Charter,” he added.

The Charter, Mr. Osei-Sarfo noted would be implemented with other key organs in Africa including the Pan African Parliament, the African Human Rights Commission and Regional Economic Communities.

Contributing to the motion, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tain, Ibrahim Ahmed expressed worry about unconstitutional rule in the continent and noted that such practices must be condemned since it does not help a country to grow.

He also objected to power sharing among some Member States in the continent.

“We condemn unconstitutional chane of government but endorse power sharing. Power sharing is also not good for African countries and must be condemned as such. This is the only way Africa can move forward,” he noted.

Also contributing the motion was MP for Sekondi, Papa Owusu Ankomah. He urged government to consider part of its obligation to pursue diplomatic measures so that the Charter will be adopted by all Member States. “The Charter when ratified will help the African Union to condemn any military intervention and unconstitutional overthrow of a government,” noted Owusu Ankomah.

The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance was adopted by the Eighth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union on the January 30 2007 in Addis Ababa. Ghana became a signatory to the Charter on January 18 2008 but was presented to its Parliament for ratification on June 18, 2010.

  1. chris scott says:

    Questions: Who drafted the Charter? And when?

    Comment: Too much is made of elections in evaluating a country’s democratic progress. Governance, be it good or good enough or none, as is often the case, is what happens BETWEEN elections.
    And, while parliament and law making is important, too little attention is paid to evaluating the civil service, the nuts and bolts of a democracy. A vigilant civil service that responds to public complaints about officials abusing regulations in forwarding their own agendas is the true indication of a healthy democracy.


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