The Centre for African Democratic Affairs (CADA) on Tuesday hailed the African Union (AU) for the steps the Union has taken so far to improve democracy and good governance on the continent since its inception in 2002.
It said the AU had over the last decade introduced a number of initiatives to support the continent’s democratization process, citing the Charter on Democracy and the African Peer Review Mechanism for special mention.
According to the organization, those initiatives, coupled with other positive developments particularly in the areas of resource governance and the role of civil society organizations, were helpful in setting standards and opening up the political space to the majority of the citizenry.
“Another encouraging sign is the growing role of civil society organizations across the continent. While still unduly limited by some governments, such organizations are becoming an increasingly vocal and essential cornerstone of democratization and anti-corruption efforts on the continent”.
These observations were contained in a report entitled, “A Decade of African Union: What are the Critical Issues” signed by Mr. Frank Adarkwa-Yiadom, Executive of CADA, and made available to the Ghana News Agency ahead of this year’s AU Day celebration which falls on May 25.
The report noted however that, even though African countries such as Ghana and South Africa were making significant progress in the areas of democracy and good governance, the threat of coups such as those of Mali and Guinea Bissau recently, continued to hang over the continent.
“CADA has also seen the return of coups, and efforts by some AU member governments to perpetuate their rule either by abolishing constitutional term limits or outright rigging of elections.”
It further observed that, Africa’s development continued to be hampered by extreme poverty and high rates of corruption, which cost the continent hundreds of billions of dollars a year, and a slowdown in economic growth.
Nevertheless, the organization acknowledged positive developments, particularly in the areas of resource governance and efforts to end impunity and strengthen the rule of law by combining national with international judicial mechanisms.
It indicated that although enormous, the challenges the AU faced were not insurmountable and that “the mere recognition by African leaders that democracy and good governance are critical to the continent’s recovery and survival is a giant step in the right direction”.
CADA is a Ghana-based civil society organization which aims at promoting democracy and good governance on the African continent.**