President John Agyekum Kufuor has urged African countries to focus on ways of assisting political parties with the necessary resources to enhance the growth and development of democracy in region.
He said even though political parties had a duty to raise funds to market themselves to the electorate, they state must deem it important to support them financially, to give those outside government some economic space to exist.
Through this, he said, the parties would develop self-confidence and become more strengthened to play their roles as key institutions of the democratic process.
President Kufuor was speaking at the opening of a two-day conference of political parties in sub-Saharan Africa at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Accra.
Mr Joachim Chissano, former President of Mozambique, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, President of the ECOWAS Commission, have joined Ministers, Members of Parliament (MPs), researchers, the academia and the leadership of political parties from across the continent at the conference, which is discussing the way forward for the growth of multi-party democracy in Africa.
It is being organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in partnership with the Netherlands Institute of Multi-party Democracy (IMD) under the theme “50 years of Sub-Saharan African Independence and the Role of Political Parties: Promise, Decline and Resurgence.”
President Kufuor said it was time nations on the continent renewed their interest in political parties, with a view to nurturing them to fulfill their mandate within their constitutions.
“It must be appreciated that all key institutions of state like the judiciary, the legislature, the electoral commission and even the executive must play their respective roles effectively in support of the growth and development of the continent's political parties.”
He, however, challenged the parties to design programmes towards capacity building for their members to make their leaders effective managers of the party at all times and especially during election.
Additionally, the rank and file must be helped to always act in accordance with the terms of both the parties and the national Constitution.
He said: “Internal democracy must become the motor driving the political parties. This in turn would engender mutual respect in inter-party relations.”
President Kufuor acknowledged that many factors accounted for the failure of the region's first attempt at democratic governance during the immediate post-independence era, but said the parties themselves could not altogether be absolved from blame.
“Africa cannot afford to get it wrong this time,” he said.
Dr Ibn Chambas identified widespread poverty, abuse of power of incumbency and marginalization of some groups within society as main challenges facing the progress of democracy in Africa.
Ms Kathleen G. Ferrier, Member of Parliament of the Christian Democratic Appeal, Netherlands, said dialogue among political parties was a good way of making democracy to work and prevent violence.