President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has been elected Chairperson of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) by her colleagues who have acceded to the APRM during a meeting on the fringes of the African Union Summit. According to a Dispatch from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Liberian President was elected by consensus with popular support from leaders of the continent. She takes over the leadership from the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, who now chairs the African Union (AU). The Chairperson of the APRM is head of the African Peer Review Forum (APR Forum).
The outgoing Chairperson of the African Peer Review Panel of Eminent Persons, the body that actually conducts the peer review, Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, said the election of the Liberian leader as head of the APRM is very important for Liberia because the APRM is an organization in which countries not only agree to improve their governance process, but also invite other countries to come and see how they are performing.
“They come to advice countries and to work with them on further improvement on governance issues not only on the national level, but also at the sub-regional and regional levels,” Dr. Sawyer pointed out, adding that the APRM was formed against the backdrop that economic development will not take place unless there is an improvement in the governance process across the continent and because there is always probe for leadership that is committed to governance, its performance and improvement.
Dr. Sawyer said the honor done to President Sirleaf by her election as head of the APRM is a recognition and realization of not only what she is committed to, but is unfolding under her leadership and an honor to Liberia as well. “It means that the continent is acknowledging that Liberia’s governance process and record have improved and can serve as a good example for many parts of the continent.”
The outgoing Chairperson of the APRM Panel of Eminent Persons, Dr. Sawyer, has turned over to a Cameroonian lawyer and president of the African Bar Association, Barrister Akere Muna, who’s also Vice Chair of Transparency International.
In remarks during the working dinner, President Sirleaf thanked her colleague, Senegalese President Mackey Sall, who declined contesting against her during the election and pledged her personal commitment to chair the APRM effectively and to support of work of President Sall at the level of the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).
The Liberian President also praised her compatriot, Dr. Amos Sawyer, for the level of credibility and integrity he brought to the work of the APRM Panel of Eminent Persons, pointing out that the APRM has a momentum that must not be slowed and requested the Forum to endorse the new structural composition of the APRM Secretariat.
The APRM is a twin-organization with NEPAD, an economic development program of the African Union. NEPAD believes that it is critical that African development and regional cooperation programs take place in the context of good economic and political governance; while the APRM is a mutually agreed program, voluntarily adopted by Member States of the African Union, to promote and re-enforce high standards of governance. The peer review mechanism is a self-monitoring mechanism. It was founded in 2003.
APRM’s mandate is to ensure that the policies and practices of participating countries conform to the agreed values in the following four focus areas: democracy and political governance, economic governance, corporate governance and socio-economic development. As part of the APRM there are periodic reviews of the participating countries to assess progress being made towards achieving the mutually agreed goals.
As of August 2012, 31 countries are members of the APRM. They include: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger (newest member), Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia. Cape Verde, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Tunisia have expressed interest in joining the APRM; while 15 countries have been peer reviewed.