The 1st edition of the Lomé Forum on Peace and Security ended on Sunday. It made it possible to broadly address political transitions and problems of democratic governance in Africa. In a declaration sanctioning the work, a number of recommendations were made to African leaders.
In the official declaration, participants expressed their concern about the state of democracy and good governance in Africa despite the progress made over the past three decades on the continent. They spoke of the threats facing both emerging and well-established democracies.
They then noted that the “disconnect between the promises of democracy and the reality of governance in Africa creates and reinforces the skepticism of populations vis-à-vis democracy which must be perceived as a process, an unfinished project and perfectible and not taken for granted.
Thus, they recognize the need to work to strengthen the rule of law, justice, democratic institutions, participatory and inclusive governance on the continent, including accountability. Indeed, the participants in the Lomé forum say they are “convinced of the important role of the rule of law in the lasting pacification of social relations and in the maintenance of regular and peaceful relations between nations”.
Likewise, they say they are aware that the fight against violent extremism and terrorism is not incompatible with democracy, human rights and the rule of law. But they are “firmly convinced that democracy remains the means par excellence to ensure peace, human progress and sustainable development in Africa”.
Therefore, they reaffirm that the first of human and peoples’ rights is the right to development.
But the Forum keeps in mind the vagaries, uncertainties and unpredictable situations specific to political transitions. And assures that these transitions “could also constitute an opportunity for profound structural transformation for the countries concerned and their populations”.
On this subject, a double challenge is considered: That of breaking with unconstitutional changes of government, on the one hand, and that of making political transitions opportunities for consolidating democracy, building the resilience of the State and strengthening the rule of law, on the other hand.
The participants also express the need to build political transitions adapted to the nature of the challenges and which take into account the deep and endogenous drivers of our societies. This is in order to better adapt governance instruments and tools, including at the level of sub-regional, regional and international organizations.
“The strengthening of transitions towards democratic governance depends strongly on the adherence of transitional governments to the principles and ideals of democracy, the adoption and implementation of essential and indispensable reforms”, underlines the declaration which sanctioned the works.
Thus, a call is made to maintain a constructive dialogue with countries in political transition and to support them in order to support the consolidation of democracy; and, beyond that, the democratization movement in Africa oriented towards the building of open, pluralist, tolerant, free societies based on law and solid institutions.
“Political transitions must be guided by the main objectives of strengthening democratic governance, consolidating the resilience of the State, institutions and the rule of law in an environment characterized by the emergence of new security and “The resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government where it is essential to promote African expertise in the search for solutions to African problems,” declared the participants at the Lomé Peace and Security Forum.
Governments of countries in transition are therefore asked to resolutely direct their actions and the conduct of processes towards the consolidation of democratic governance. They are called to make political transitions, opportunities for change, bold reforms and profound socio-political transformations, more inclusive and participatory.
“Let us also call on countries in transition to work towards the establishment of a constitutional framework guaranteeing the balance of powers and fundamental freedoms, respecting human rights and promoting a more equitable society and good -be citizens,” we can read in the document.
However, the Lomé forum calls for “going beyond purely formal approaches to political transitions to make them real opportunities for rebuilding and consolidating democratic achievements”. It is therefore a question of taking into account local specificities and the requirements relating to the restoration of constitutional order through free, fair, equitable and transparent elections.
“Let us affirm that economic development, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Let us call for work to promote the socio-economic and cultural rights of citizens in order to strengthen the social dimension of democratic governance,” we can say.