A local non governmental organization Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) on Wednesday 1st December 2010 organized a one day conference on the Africa Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance at the Kona Lodge in Freetown. The conference attracted government officials, civil society organizations, representatives from the regions and the media. The Africa Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance exists within the spirit of strengthening the democratic process that started in Africa at the end of the cold war in the early nineties. The charter is being viewed by the Africa Union (AU) as an innovative to address the challenges of coups and counter coups, autocratic and dictatorship regimes that threatens peace. The charter has also been viewed as one that promotes stability as well as enabling countries to be economically viable and be able to provide the basic needs of the people in terms of service delivery.
In her opening remarks, Mrs. Marcella Macauley of CGG said the conference was organized to raise the awareness of participants on the African Charter on democracy, elections and governance in Sierra Leone; establish a steering committee to coordinate the implementation of the charter in Sierra Leone and develop strategies geared towards the ratification of the charter in other countries through interaction with civil society organizations.
Stefan Gilbert of the Institute for Democracy in Africa (IDASA) said his institution was a principal partner in ensuring that Sierra Leone ratifies the Charter. He said Sierra Leone is a signatory to the charter, noting that it is the third to have ratified it.
Delivering his keynote address, Dr. Ramadan Dumbuya of the Special Policy Unit, State House commended CGG for the initiative to bring participants together. He said the charter is very crucial in the democratic process of the country, adding that African states have gained independence but things are not going the way they should taking into consideration the instability, dictatorship, coup d’etat, weak economy among others. He urged political leaders to consolidate their democracies and governance system by implementing the charter.
National Coordinator for CGG Valnora Edwin said African heads of states in 2007 met to adopt a charter with the spirit of promoting democracy and good governance, adding that ‘this was quite critical in view of the frequent unconstitutional changes of governments, frequent changes in constitutional provisions relating to presidential terms of office and the continued violence and high level of poverty in most parts of the continent’. She furthered that the charter has been seen as a landmark document because it identifies the need for democracy as a key prerequisite for development in Africa. She however expressed concern on the lack of political will by some African leaders to ratify the charter.
A panel discussion was held by participants on the significance of the charter to the enhancement of democratic good governance in Sierra Leone, its implementation and the role of civil society actors in promoting it.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.