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03.07.2006 Africa

Rejection of AU Charter extension clause can affect strides-Expert

By myjoyonline
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An international relations expert says it is worrying that African Foreign ministers were unable to adopt proposals for a new charter on democracy and governance because of a clause that bars incumbent Presidents from tinkering with their constitutions to extend their tenure.

According to Dr. Yao Gebe, a senior lecturer at the Legon Centre for International Affairs, LECIA, the new proposals represent a significant paradigm shift that needs the support of all leaders on the continent.

This he believes will strengthen gains made in promoting democracy.

The proposed A.U. charter aims at preventing unpopular Presidents from staying in office indefinitely.

But, Dr. Gebe explained that in the event that the new proposals are rejected by African leaders in Banjul, the issue can be dealt with at the level of sub regional groups to achieve consensus.

He said, "For instance, if you take ECOWAS we have our own supplementary protocol on democracy and good governance.”

“What are the provisions there, how does it help to overcome these problems of not coming out clearly to say that you cannot extend your term limit,” he questioned.

He said, “Gradually, the African Union has agreed on that, that the Sub-Regional groupings are blocks for the African Union to build upon.

Maybe from the sub-regional level and gradually at the AU level some other ways of resolving this problem or dispute can be adopted.”

Dr. Gebe added that despite the stalemate, critics must also acknowledge how far the AU has come in terms of improving democratic governance on the continent.

According to him, "Whatever is happening now is a paramedic shift. After all if you look at some of the legal frame works we are working with now, the NEPAD document, the APRM process, Governments are now willing to allow their peers to look into whatever is happening within their country.”

A final decision on the extension clause will be known tomorrow after the weekend summit of the leaders in Banjul, Gambia.

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