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One Last Ratification Stands in the Way of the Entry into Force of the African Charter of Democracy, Elections and Governance!

By International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)
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PARIS, France, January 24, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Bearing in mind recent disputed election processes in African countries that have led to violence and conflict, and considering the potential for conflict that certain elections scheduled in 2012 represent, FIDH reiterates its call to African states to ratify the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

The Charter, which was adopted in January 30, 2007 in Addis Ababa, has been ratified by 14 countries*. The 15th ratification will permit its entry into force and the implementation of its binding provisions.

The Charter commits State Parties to promote democracy, the Rule of Law and human rights and insists on the elimination of all forms of discrimination and on the protection of the rights of migrants, ethnic minorities and women, particularly to encourage their participation in political life.

Specifically, the Charter requires from State Parties that they adopt legislative measures and establish public institutions which guarantee the holding of regular, transparent, free and fair elections.

The Charter insists on the fact that all unconstitutional changes or attempts to do so, defined as coup d'État, all interventions of rebels or mercenaries to withdraw any government, any refusal by an incumbent government to relinquish power to the winning party, must face sanctions by the African Union. Also included in the lists of acts facing sanctions, any amendment or revision of the Constitution or legal instruments which is an infringement on the principles of democratic change of government. This provision is of the utmost importance considering the multiple examples of hasty modifications of Constitutions imposed by Head of States to remove the limitation on the number of their mandates and allow them to stand for elections as many times as desired.

In such cases, the Charter empowers the Peace and Security Council to suspend the participation of any country into the organs of the Union, to adopt economic sanctions, to support the trial of the perpetrators of unconstitutional changes and to apply any other forms of sanctions.

Finally, concerning good governance, the Charter commits State Parties to fight against corruption, to guarantee the equitable allocation of the nation's wealth and natural resources and to the respect of economic and social rights.

"The entry into force of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance is meant to contribute to the respect of the right of citizens to choose their representatives and promote a political culture of change of power. The Charter will oblige the African Union, at a time when it promotes its concept of “Shared Values”, to be more vigilant and firm in dealing with obstacles to democracy and violations of the rule of law and of human rights" declared Sidiki Kaba, FIDH Honorary President.

*Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Zambia, South Africa