The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is launching the third edition of the Africa Governance Report (AGR III) on Thursday June 5 2014, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This Report focuses on the theme: “Elections and Management of Diversity”. The Report indicates that greater regularity in holding elections since the beginning of the 1990s has not necessarily enhanced their value as sectarian mobilization, intimidation and violence have often turned polls into conflict triggers rather than instruments for resolving differences.
The ECA and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) have worked closely in producing the report since the diversity of populations in many African countries had made it essential that the dynamics surrounding the holding of elections and the management of diversity on the African continent be examined. Both the ECA and UNDP highlight that the Report’s findings are a reflection of the situation across the continent: “We also ask ourselves whether African elections promote inclusiveness and participation and improve the quality of governance,” they state in the Foreword.“To uncover some answers, we conducted extensive research, including surveys and focus group discussions in 40 African countries,” add the heads of the two institutions.
Among the Report’s key findings is the fact that electoral stability and the management of diversity are better promoted through the proportional, rather than the majoritarian, representation system. The Report also says that resolving issues like the quality of elections, how the constitution promotes diversity, how deeply embedded diversity is in public and democratic institutions, and the capacity of the state to mediate and rise above sectarian interests is central to consolidating the democratic transition. Institutional capacity, relative autonomy, resources as well as the quality and integrity of judicial officers also need to be addressed.
On the issue of governance, the Report indicates that overall, Africa has made progress, with some indicators, including respect for human rights and the rule of law, legislative capacity, civil society engagement and civil liberties. This notwithstanding, progress remains low and has not allowed for the strengthening of democratization in the continent. It is expected that the recommendations provided in the third edition of the AGR will guide African governments in strengthening elections and the management of diversity. Photo: African Leadership magazine