Speaker Of Parliament Calls For Electoral Reforms
SPEAKER OF Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, has called for electoral reforms across Africa to ensure good governance and prosperity for the continent.
Specifically, has proposed the establishment of a special electoral body to supervise elections in the West Africa sub-region.
Prof. Oquaye made the call on Friday during the opening ceremony of a two-day high-level policy dialogue on the future of governance in Africa.
The dialogue, organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was under the theme, “the future of governance in Africa: Is a new concept of governance the key to accelerating the prosperity agenda?”
The speaker posited, “I believe Africa working in tandem should be able to compare and establish the best practices for the electoral process.
“Many African nations are notorious for disputed elections resulting from lack of credibility in the electoral processes.”
Making reference to a case where Spain and Portugal were denied membership of the European Union on the grounds of weak democratic credentials, Prof. Oquaye quizzed, “What are the established democratic credentials in Africa?”
As part of the reforms process, he has also appealed for a tougher regime of stricter term limit to ensure regular democratic transition on the continent.
According to the speaker, a strong collaboration is needed among African nations for the establishment of a sub-regional electoral body that can oversee issues relating to elections on the continent and providing remedial solutions whenever crisis emerges as a result of elections.
That, he said, can grant Africa the opportunity to handle its own electoral issues rather than relying on observers from the western world.
He was of the view that electoral laws on the continent are weak, hence the ability of some heads of state to hang onto power even if their tenure is over or they have reached the age limit as stipulated by their respective national constitutions.
Prof. Oquaye urged, “You have to revise the laws that regulate the process and make them bite. And all this can be done by comparative analysis as to what are the ways they have been done in some places. When we are strong in Ghana, we learn something that is also strong in another country.
“The laws relating to our elections must be sealed and tight. Nobody can regulate us one week, one month, three months to elections because the tendency is that people will regulate to favour what they want to favour.”
He also stressed the need for the protection of women's rights across Africa, urging that 'true' affirmative actions and policies be introduced to promote the well-being of women and their children.
On poverty eradication from the continent and ensuring economic justice, Prof. Oquaye called for a new global economic order in which “Africans must rise up and bring an end to the era of making their natural resources raw materials for industries in the western world.”
Ghana Country Director of UNDP, Dominic Sam, observed that the current leadership structure on the African continent seems not to be serving many needs of the masses.
According to him, peace and stability appear to be absent on the African soil after several decades of gaining independence from colonial powers.
Caption: Prof. Oquay (sitting fifth left) in a pose with participants after the opening ceremony of the dialogue
BY Melvin Tarlue