General News of Sat, 5 May 200713

African Politicians deplore abuse of incumbency

Accra, May 5, GNA - Participants at the first Conference of Political Parties in Sub Saharan Africa, on Saturday deplored the abuse of incumbency and misuse of state security apparatus in electoral systems across the continent.

They called for improvement of elections administration, the establishment of efficient and truly independent election management institutions that are insulated from any partisan or external influence.

These were contained in an 18-piont joint communiqu=E9 issued at the end of a two-day conference in Accra, attended by Mr Joachim Chissano, former President of Mozambique, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, President of the ECOWAS Commission, former and serving ministers of states, members of parliament (MPs), researchers, the academia and the leadership of political parties from across the continent.

Fifty-five political parties from 15 African countries attended the forum organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), in collaboration with the Netherlands Institute of Multi-party Democracy (NIMD) on the theme: "50 years of Sub-Saharan African Independence and the Role of Political Parties: Promise, Decline and Resurgence." The participants also condemned the attitude of losing political parties that refused to accept results of elections acknowledged by electoral administrators and observers as being credible, free and fair and challenged politicians and governments to work towards eradicating these negative practices.

They noted that the conduct of free, fair and credible elections should not only be regarded as a means to legitimising the leadership of a country, but should also be considered as a tool for promoting peace and security.

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The participants condemned incidences of post-elections conflicts and unconstitutional changes of government and urged governments and political parties to provide an environment that would deny military adventurists any opportunity to impose themselves on the people. On the issues of public financing of political parties, the Conference emphasis the urgent need to build the capacity of all political parties so as to create a level playing field for effective participation in the governance process of a country.

The Conference also urged political parties to provide a platform for women and the youth to participate in the building and sustenance of peace and democracy, eliminate gender and generational imbalance that had blighted the growth of multiparty democracy on the continent. In view of the gains of the Accra Conference, participants agreed to the establishment of a Permanent Consultative Conference of the leadership of political parties in Sub Saharan Africa to sustain the spirit and commitment demonstrated. Participating countries included: Benin; Cote d'Ivoire; Ghana; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mali; Mozambique; Nigeria; Sierra Leone; South Africa; Tanzania; Togo; Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Mr Eric Armerding, Special Advisor to the Union des Forces de Changement (Union of Forces for Change) (UFC) of Togo, described the conference as "better late than never".

He said: "Some of us had expected a conference of this nature way back, but unfortunately the political environment prevented it, but now the new breed of political leadership and governments have facilitated the creation of a common platform for African politicians to deliberate."

Mr Armerding said the interest demonstrated would guarantee the conveyance of all ideas to promote growth of multiparty democracy across the continent. He said the conference also offered Togoless politicians an opportunity to listen and learn from other participants, especially their Ghanaian counterparts experiences, draw lessons and apply them in Togo.

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He said the Togoless delegation was confident of sharing the outcome of the conference with the political stakeholders in Togo including the Electoral Commission and the donor community as they prepare for legislative elections on June 24 this year.

Dr Edmund Delle, Chairman of the Convention People's Party of Ghana, said the basic truth about the conference was that it had created an opportunity to harmonise politicians to form a union. He said: "Africans first failed to seek the political union, wondered in the economic unionisation until today...as we seek the political union all other things would fall in place."

Other participants called for the replication of the forum at country level to create the grounds for ruling and minority parties to deliberate. 5 May 07

Source: GNA

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