AFRICA AT LARGE: AU TAKES TOUGH STANCE ON DICTATORS
COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 30 October 2008
by Africa News Update
The Citizen (Tanzania)
Chairman of the African Union (AU), Jakaya Kikwete, has said the African Union will not tolerate leaders who sought power through undemocratic means. He said African countries must learn to respect democracy in electing their leaders.
The AU Chairman, who is also president of Tanzania, spoke on Monday in South Africa during the official opening of the 10th seating of the African Parliament in Midrand, Pretoria.
"The past non-interference in member countries, internal affairs has no place in our continent. Africa will not continue to watch from the sidelines as tenets of democracy are broken or when governments oppress their own people," said President Kikwete.
He said the AU must be ready to take on leaders who do not respect democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
"The continent is no longer a haven for such establishments. Any government that ascends to power through undemocratic means will not be accepted and its membership in AU will be revoked," he said.
He said the tough stance on undemocratic governments had already started to apply, and cited the case of Mauritania.
President Kikwete said the growing democracy that is manifested in several parts of the continent would be enhanced by member countries only accepting results of free and democratic elections. He said more counties in Africa continued to hold periodical elections as required, noting that since the establishment of the African Parliament in 2004, 45 members had conducted free elections, five this year alone.
However, he said, despite the progress, there were discouraging occurrences in some parts of the continent. He urged the African Parliament to play its role in defending democracy, the rule of law and human rights. He said with its 245 members representing 47 countries, the parliament should be vigil against those out to reverse democratic gains.
On the economy, President Kikwete said the continent was steadily arising from past declines owing to various domestic measures taken by countries. He said overall economic growth had recently surpassed the five percent mark.
"If this momentum is maintained the situation in our continent will be much better in the future," he said adding that the 6.5 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) recorded by countries South of the Sahara had proved pessimists wrong.
He called for the integration of economic blocs in Africa to further desired interests, and lauded the recent resolve by member countries in the East Africa Community (EAC), South Africa Development Cooperation (SADC) and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) to come together to launch a greater trade area.
The AU Chairman also listed five factors that should be done for the continent to move fast and rip maximum benefits from the ongoing changes. He said the factors included unifying economic gains, respect for democracy and good governance, avoiding matters that jeopardise security and strengthening AU’s peace and security agency to fully discharge its duties.
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