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09.05.2007 Politics

Veep opens continental conference on APRM in Accra

Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama on Tuesday noted that the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is shedding away the old image of Africa, where leadership concern was on how to retain and remain in office.

He said NEPAD was also a paradigm shift from corruption, mal-administration and socio-economic deprivation of the people, which fuelled needless conflicts, wars and anarchy that further aggravated poverty and underdevelopment in Africa.

Vice President Mahama made these observations when he opened a three-day Continental conference of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), on the theme: Africa's Bold March to Capture the 21st Century-The Role of the APRM."

APRM was instituted in 2003 by the African Union, to deepen the rule of law and other attributes of good governance through National Governing Councils that independently monitor and assess the activities of their political leaders.

Vice President Mahama said Africa was faced with the challenge of translating NEPAD from a conceptual arrangement into an implementation process,
in order to halt the marginalisation of Africa in the global context and to reduce poverty and deprivation on the Continent.

He said APRM was critical to the quest of Africa to make a difference in the 21st Century.

"It underscores the new political will and leadership to serve the well-being of our people. It demonstrates our commitment to democracy and good governance as prerequisite for our development."

Vice President Mahama said APRM also brought to the fore, the challenges and opportunities unleashed by a true partnership with the international community based on mutual obligations and responsibilities to reduce poverty and accelerate the pace of growth and prosperity.

"Implementation of the APRM therefore leads us to the pursuit of democracy and good governance as core to a new culture of conducting our affairs."

He said the APRM called for a new approach to development discourse with the continent's development partners, stressing: " We need to move away from a donor and recipient relationship to a partnership based on mutual interdependence.

Vice President Mahama expressed dissatisfaction about the slow implementation of the APRM.

So far only Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda had gone through the entire cycle of implementation, while 26 out of the 53 countries of the African Union have acceded to the process.

He called on legislators in Africa to ensure that the tenets of APRM were ingrained in public discourse.

"There is also the concern that NEPAD processes and APRM implementation appear to be moving on a divergent trajectory. While it is understandable that the APRM Country Self-Assessment should be done in an autonomous manner to safeguard its credibility and integrity, there is the need to achieve a convergence with the NEPAD process when it comes to implementation of the APRM programme of action," he said.

Ms. Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and NEPAD said APRM was the ground- breaking event for the reform of Africa's political system and to ensure growth, development and stability of the continent.

She said APRM was a moral responsibility for African leaders and called for public ownership of the process to ensure its success.

Ms Botchway said APRM could be boosted if Africans voted for political parties that were free, diverse and more enterprising.