Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the media yesterday ended a day meeting on the Domestication in Sierra Leone of the Africa Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
Sierra Leone signed the Charter in June 2008 and was ratified in February 2009.
Addressing the meeting in the conference hall of Campaign for Good Governance, Head of Alert International in Liberia, Michael Doe while explaining the importance of the meeting said it was to ensure that the CSOs and media develop a strategy for the domestication and popularization of the Charter in the country.
He said the Charter has been signed by both Sierra Leone and Liberia and many other African countries, adding that some countries have ratified whilst other have not.
The Consultant, Nana Busia from Ghana, said the Charter was adopted by African Heads of States in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2004.
Explaining what the Charter contains and what is its legal status, he said the treaty provides norms, principles and standards on democracy, elections and governance in general in Africa.
Busia said the objectives of the Charter include, consolidation of institutions of good governance; promote universal principles and values of democracy; good governance, human rights and development; free, fair elections; regular transparent and observer missions.
The Consultant stated that the Charter seeks to promote adherence by each State to the universal values and principles of democracy and respect for human rights, promote and enhance adherence to the principle of the rule of law premised respect for and the supremacy of the constitution and constitutional order in the political arrangements of State parties.
He said the objectives are many and can be found in Article 2. He added that the Charter also seeks to promote best practices in the management of elections for purposes of political stability and good governance.
Article 3 he said, states that State parties shall implement the Charter in accordance with respect for human rights and democratic principles, access to and exercise of state power in accordance with the constitution of the state parties and the principle of the rule of law.
He said key provisions of the Charter include, Article 10 which states that State Parties shall ensure that the process of amendment or revision of their constitutions reposes on national consensus, obtained if need be, through referendum.
The Consultant went on that Chapter 8 stipulates sanctions in cases of unconstitutional changes of government, noting that state parties agreed that the use of illegal means of accessing or maintaining power constitutes an unconstitutional change of government and shall draw appropriate sanctions by the Union.
He said any putsch or coup d’état against a democratically elected government, any intervention by mercenaries to replace a democratically elected government by armed dissidents or rebels, any refusal by an incumbent government to relinquish power to the wining party or candidate after free, fair and regular elections any amendment or revision of the constitution or legal instruments which is an infringement on the principles of democratic change of government.
By Abibatu Kamara
Wednesday March 26, 2014