…African Union envoy
By Victoria Saffa
The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission to Liberia and Sierra Leone, Ambassador Aluwatoyin Solaja, has said in Freetown that the African Charter of Democracy, Election and Good Governance frowns at unconstitutional change of government which results in insecurity, instability and violent conflicts across the continent.
The envoy was addressing a press conference at the West Africa Peacebuilding Network on Soldier Street in Freetown.
He said the charter was adopted by eight ordinary sessions of the Assembly of Heads of State of the African Union on 30th January, 2007 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“Its adoption was inspired by the significance of good governance, popular participation, the rule of law and human rights,” he said, adding that the charter has reaffirmed the collective will of the African leaders to work relentlessly in order to depend and consolidate the rule of law, peace, security and development on the continent.
Ambassador Solaja said the charter is a long-term vision and roadmap for the transformation of Africa into a continent that is integrated, peaceful, prosperous and people-centered. He said for the agenda to be realized, good governance and democracy would have to serve as the bedrock, hence the need to know about the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, and the necessity for its ratification and domestication.
He said the Republic of Cameroon became the fifteenth member state to complete the ratification process of the charter on 16th January 2012, a month later the ACDEG entered into force.
“Indeed when the treaty enters into force, it becomes binding on only those member states which give the required consent through ratification,” he explained. “What this means therefore is that the provision of the charter, including the holding of regular free, fair election, the prohibition, rejection and condemnation of unconstitutional changes of government, upholding of the freedom of the press, citizen participation, the promotion and protection of the independence of the judiciary, as well as accountability in the management of public affairs, become legally binding on these states.”
The AU special representative said as at 28 January this year, 45 AU member states have signed the charter, 23 have ratified it, and these same countries have deposited the charter with the AU Commission.
Sierra Leone signed the charter on 17th June 2008, ratified it on 17 February 2009 and deposited it with the AU Commission on 8th December 2009.
Ambassador Solaja lauded the efforts being made by the government of Sierra Leone to get the charter domesticated. Various consultations held with government officials, the IMC representing the media, the civil society, have given an indication of some level of awareness of the charter and its ratification.
“Though commendable this is just 50 percent of the task completed,” he said, noting that the charter can only be enforced or implemented by member states if the ratified charter is incorporated into domestic or national laws. “Thus the domestication and implementation of the charter complete the process of adoption, signature and ratification, and it is only then the charter provisions and the benefits thereof can become applicable.”
He called on the government for urgent consideration and domestication of the charter, given the numerous benefits to be derived from it in terms of a guaranteed human and state security, the respect for the rule of law, peace, stability and development, among others.
Edward Jombla of WANEP, who gave the vote of thanks, said the essence of the media engagement was to appeal for partnership with the African Union Mission.
“It is also to disseminate the all important information on the charter to the Sierra Leonean populace at large,” he said, adding that with the constitutional review in progress it is an opportunity for Sierra Leoneans to make their voices heard and to make this charter as part of recommendation to the process.