Dr Khabele Matlosa, Representative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ethiopia on Monday advocated for the African Union Commission to study Ghana’s electoral accomplishment as a yardstick for portraying a positive image of the continent.
“Ghana’s electoral system0 which over the years has established eight year alternative governance system with strong mechanism of confidence in the Electoral Management Body should serve as a trumpet.
“Africans must begin to move away from the negative electoral tag of violence, and champion the good stories of Ghana and other African countries. We have come of age,” Dr Matlosa stated at the 8th African Governance Forum in Accra.
The forum on the theme: “Youth Empowerment, Elections and Management of Diversity in Africa,” was jointly organised by UNDP, African Union, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the Government of Ghana.
It seeks to explore the interface between democracy, elections, and diversity management with imperatives for youth empowerment with a view to informing policy reforms at continental, regional and national levels.
Supporting the call for Africa to study Ghana’s electoral systems, Ms Harmandip Ruby Sandhu-Rojon, UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana said Ghana and Zambia’s recent elections and peaceful transition attested to the maturity that political parties and their leaders could exhibit, despite political, regional and other forms of diversity.
She said 2012 would witness over 20 countries in Africa going to the polls, stressing that development partners and governments of these countries had proactively set in motion some modalities to address the root causes of conflict that might trigger off during elections.
Mrs Sandhu-Rojon noted that this year, over 30 Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government elections were conducted across the continent.
However, she said several of them were clouded by violence that demonstrated links between democratic deficits and youth discontent, lubricated by the oil of ethnic tensions.
Mrs Sandhu-Rojon explained that electoral violence were often a precursor for post-election violence. “The commencement of violent hostilities during elections typically sees violence continuing and deepening social cleavages”.
She said measures to be adopted to avoid electoral violence next year should include the building of national capacities to peacefully resolve differences through partnerships, dialogue and the building of trust and consensus.
On the process of youth empowerment, elections and ethnic diversity, Mrs Sandhu-Rojon, called for early involvement of the youth and women, because they constituted potent but under-utilised resources in the pursuit of democracy and peace.
She noted that the African Governance Forum (AGF) was a flagship governance programme which sought to strengthen governance partnerships on the basis of consensus-building among African governments, private sector, civil society organisations and their external partners.
The two-day forum would serve as preparatory summit for the 8th AGF Summit to be hosted by South Africa in 2012.