July 23, 2010

Parliament on Thursday ratified the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance which seeks to secure the gains of democratic governance in Africa.

It seeks to entrench a culture of change of political power through the holding of regular free and transparent elections. The charter reflects these democratic traits by outlining the rights and responsibility of political parties including opposition parties.

African Union members that accede to the charter will commit themselves to establishing and strengthening independent and impartial national electoral bodies responsible for management of elections and to ensure that there is a binding code of conduct during and after the election period.

Ghana is the sixth country to accede to the charter, the rest of which are Lesotho, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Mauritania.

Mr. Francis Osei-Sarfo, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, in a report submitted on the floor of the House said the adoption of the charter was in response to the recent unconstitutional changes experienced by some Heads of States in recent times.

He noted that the charter required the ratification of at least fifteen member states for it to be operational however, currently only six member states have ratified it.

He observed that the ratification of the charter would not supersede the already existing favourable provisions on democracy and good governance in Ghana but to complement it.

He said since Ghana was the beacon of democracy and good governance in Africa and that Ghana must not merely sign and ratify the charter but must be seen to be playing frontal role in ensuring that other countries ratify the agreement.

Ms. Shirley Ayokor Botchway, Member for Weija, said the charter encourages member states on the need to embrace and defend democracy and that member states should ensure free and fair elections.

She said member states must encourage full and active participation and ensure that people in their respective countries enjoy human rights as enshrined in the provisions of the charter.

Mr. Ahmed Ibrahim, Member for Tain, said it was time African countries took election monitoring serious and called for the total condemnation of power sharing.

The Member for Sekondi, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, urged the government of Ghana to consider as part of her international obligations to create diplomatic avenues that would persuade other African countries to ratify the charter.

Alhaji Mohammed -Mubarak Muntaka, Member for Asawase, said African states must find a way of diffusing the winner-take-all principle in elections.

He noted that “the way Ghanaians handle their former presidents” was not good enough for democracy and called on the government to do more in making them secure after serving the nation.

Mr. Ambrose Dery, Deputy Minority Leader, said so far only few African countries had ratified it adding that it was an urgent matter that should be treated with dispatch.

He was hopeful that Ghana‘s ratification would influence other countries to do so.

Mr. Rashid Pelpuo, Deputy Majority Leader, said signing this charter must deepen Ghana’s democratic culture to the extent that the root of this democratic culture must affect even students and appealed to all Ghanaians to respect the rights of others.

Source :adomfmonline.com