FORMER president Dr Goodluck Jonathan has elected as the chairman of the continental body made up of former heads of state the African Union’s International Summit Council for Peace (ISCP).
At the newly inaugurated ISCP, Dr Jonathan was elected as its head at an international leadership conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. Speaking at the event, he urged the African Union (AU) to set minimum acceptable standards for appointing the leadership of electoral commissions.
A two-day conference tagged Africa Summit and Leaders Conference 2019, the event was attended by government officials, former heads of state, clergy and traditional rulers from across Africa. In a keynote speech titled The Need for Good Governance and Peaceful Electioneering Process in Africa, Dr Jonathan noted that the credibility and legitimacy of electoral processes, are hugely dependent on the competence, impartiality and independence of electoral management bodies.
Dr Jonathan said: “It is interesting that almost all the electoral management bodies in Africa are identified with the prefix independent but the jury is still out on whether these agencies are truly independent as their names imply. The AU should, through its political affairs department, set up a team of electoral experts to study different models and recommend the system they consider best for the continent.
“Such benchmark should also take cognisance of the need to review the election of judicial processes to ensure that, where election tribunals are set up to specifically handle election cases, one judicial officer does not handle the role of appointing all members of the tribunals. Since neutrality of the security services is absolutely necessary in ensuring free and fair elections, it is also important that the Africa Union should establish a code of conduct guiding security officials in charge of elections.
“All these recommendations should be accommodated in AU’s procedures for elections that should serve as guidelines for election observers.” Dr Jonathan went on to praise South Africans for the peaceful conduct of last May’s national and provincial elections.
He added: “Once you get to that point where all role players in elections can express confidence in the umpire and the security systems, you would have solved more than 70% of your electoral challenges. Sadly, not many African countries have got to this point where they can beat their chest and boast of political freedom, inclusiveness, independence of the electoral management body and credibility of the political process.”