By Timothy T. Seaklon
The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission to Liberia, Ambassador Oluwatoyin Solaja, has launched a renewed appeal to the National Legislature to ratify the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG).
Addressing a news conference yesterday at his Sinkor office, Ambassador Solaja called for partnership towards the sensitization, popularization and ratification of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG).
He said this renewed partnership could not have come at a more opportune moment, as the African Union, in partnership with the International Alert, an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), which seeks to promote the call for universal values and principles of democracy, good governance, human rights and the right to development.
In her African Day Speech on May 25, 2014, Her Excellency Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), highlighted the reflections, past, present and future, of Africans from all over the continent, including the young and the old, men and women, academics, business groups, government officials, religious institutions and the civil society in general, the AU envoy said.
Ambassador Solaja said these reflections found expression in the African Union Agenda 2063, which is a long-term vision and roadmap for the transformation of Africa into a continent that is integrated, peaceful, prosperous and people-centered.
“For this Agenda to be realized, good governance and democracy would have to serve as the bedrock; hence the need to know about the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG), and the necessity for its ratification and domestication,” Amb. Solaja continued.
The ACDEG was adopted by the Eighth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State of the African Union on 30th January, 2007 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Its adoption was inspired by the significance of good governance, popular participation, the rule of law and human rights.
The Charter reaffirmed the collective will of African leaders to work relentlessly in order to deepen and consolidate the rule of law, peace, security and development on the continent.
More importantly, the Charter frowns at unconstitutional changes of government which result in insecurity, instability and violent conflicts across the continent. It also expresses the determination to strengthen good governance through the institutionalization of transparency, accountability and participatory democracy.
Amb. Solaja said the Republic of Cameroon became the 15th Member State to complete the ratification process of the Charter on the 16th January, 2012, thus, on the 15th of February 2012, a month later, the ACDEG finally entered into force.
“Indeed a treaty enters into force for those Member States which give the required consent through ratification. What this means, therefore, is that the provisions of the ACDEG, including the holding of regular free, fair elections; the prohibition, rejection and condemnation of unconstitutional changes in government; upholding of the freedom of the press; citizen participation; the promotion and protection of the independence of the Judiciary; as well as accountability in the management of public affairs, become legally binding on these states,” Amb. Solaja stressed.
As of 28, January 2014, forty-five (45) AU Member States signed the Charter, twenty-three (23) ratified, and these same twenty-three (23) have deposited the Charter with the AUC, out of 54 AU Member States.
The Republic of Liberia signed the ACDEG on the 18th of June, 2008, but is yet to ratify and deposit the Charter.
It can be recalled that during this year’s Annual Message, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf announced the submission of 15 AU legal instruments to the National Legislature for consideration and possible ratification and the ACDEG was part of these fifteen legal instruments.
Ambassador Solaja used the Press Conference to appeal to the Liberian Media to partner with the African Union Mission in Liberia to accomplish two tasks which include the dissemination of this all-important information on ACDEG to the Liberian public and more importantly, to call on, and encourage the respected Liberian Legislature to expedite the much-awaited ratification.
Speaking earlier at the News Conference, Mr. Michael Slewion Doe, Project Manager and head of Office for International Alert Liberia said, “Since replacing the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 2001, the African Union (AU) has set as its core goal, propelling a united continent towards peace and prosperity. This goal is based on the AU belief that conflicts must be settled before there can be a chance of achieving prosperity.”
He said in 2013, at the request of the Peace and Security Department of the AUC, International Alert alongside PSD, started work on strengthening the capacity of two AU member states (Liberia and South, Sudan) to deliver on their stated objectives, and country-specific mandate.
He said the project “Partnership for effective and sustainable AULOs” was designed to address some of the concerns raised during various assessments conducted on the African Union Liaison Offices (AULO) and the recommendations thereof.
Mr. Doe noted it is a three-year project (2013- 2015), funded by SIDA, and implemented by International Alert, in partnership with the Peace and Security Department (PSD) at the African Union Commission (AUC).”