Election Universe

How does the African Union propose to strengthen elections in 2019?

How does the African Union propose to strengthen elections in 2019?
February 25 2019, 13:22

“Elections on the continent must be fair, based on the democratic principles of universal suffrage and political equality following international, continental and regional norms and standards.”

AUC Commissioner for Political Affairs SE Amb. Minata Samaté Cessouma

Africa is preparing to hold several national elections in 2019. All the fifty-five AU member states are obligated to hold regular general elections and will, therefore, be required to invite teams of the African Union election observers who will publicly monitor, assess and report the outcomes.

The question, however, remains as to whether all the electoral activities are helping to entrench democracy in these African states as the underpinning for domestic and regional security, growth and integration. According to political analysts and local researchers, Africa has in the recent past dealt with the syndrome where elections have been regarded as the enforced means to grab power. To some extent, it has been an avenue through which powerful elites, together with authoritarian rulers, entrench themselves at the expense of the ordinary citizens.

However, as 2019 progresses the AU is advocating for fundamental structural reforms that will be merging the portfolios of political matters, peace, as well as security.

The continental priorities

The latest Annual Continental Forum of Election Management Bodies (Dec 2018) “Towards Election-Free Electoral Processes” discussed African problems related to the lack of integrity in elections and their negative impact on democratization.

Among the most important and common issues were political violence as a threat to electoral integrity; electoral participation; EMBs as custodians of electoral integrity; the dangers of political party financing; the electoral justice system; the role of technology; and the influence of mis-disinformation in African elections.

The African Union leaders have discussed their commitment for 2019 to ensure that its most significant share of resources is channeled toward supporting both urgent conciliatory needs as well as creating conducive circumstances for necessitating the development of politically accomplished states. The AU is also keen on implementing these reform agenda as any shortcomings are likely to become a significant detriment on the continent’s integration and will jeopardize its socio-economic transformation strategic plan.

Another decision made by the assembly entails strengthening the monitoring and evaluation of key areas of governance and elections. This posts a promise on the considerable improvements regarding the role and functions of the African peer review mechanism. Correspondingly, its governing Forum of Heads of State mandated its leadership to generate an Africa-wide proportional valuation of governance trials, which will be officially presented in February.