June 8, 2011

African Charter on democracy ratified

The Council of Ministers (Cabinet) has ratified the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance which allows the African Union (AU) to take action against heads of state and governments that make unconstitutional changes or that refuse to hand over power after losing elections.

Mozambique joins Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho, Mauritania, Rwanda, South Africa and Sierra Leone who have already ratified the charter. The ratification will further strengthen democracy in Mozambique, as AU members that accede to the charter commit themselves to establishing and strengthening independent and impartial national electoral bodies responsible for the management of elections, and to ensure that there is a binding code of conduct during and after the election period.

The charter also provides a framework for the international prosecution of people who take power by force. Political parties involved in such crimes are suspended from the African Union, banned from participating in elections and from having significant positions in the new government while subject to prosecution at the AU court based in Arusha in Tanzania. The charter requires ratification by at least 15 of the 53 member states of the AU for it to become operational. Therefore a further seven countries must sign up before it comes into force. The African Charter was adopted by the 8th ordinary session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital city, on 30 January 2007. (AIM)

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