Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch

Welcome to
Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rwanda’s ‘elections’ and AU’s abysmal failure

Pan-African ParliamentImage via Wikipedia
Officially launched in 2002, the Africa Union (AU) has several organs that one even gets tired reading the list. The Assembly, Executive Council, Commission, Permanent Representatives Committee, Peace and Security Council, Pan-African Parliament, ECOSOCC, Court of Justice, Specialized Technical Committees, Financial institutions… you simply can’t list all of them in an article.

Under those organs, you will also find a host of other sub organs overseeing projects and missions that among other objectives are aimed at ensuring a transparent, peaceful and poverty-free Africa.
And, for purposes of this Column I will focus on the Political Affairs Office Section, which is supposed to monitor and deal with issues of human rights, democracy, good governance, electoral institutions, civil society organizations, humanitarian affairs, refuges, returnees and internally displaced persons…
It’s this particular organ/section that depicts the ineptness, hollowness and emptiness of whole organization.
Take the example of the just concluded ‘elections’ in Rwanda, where the AU under this section was well represented, to monitor or observe the poll.
Just two days after their arrival in the country, the representatives had something to tell the members of the press, and the world at large.
“There is no proof of pre-election intimidation,” they said in unison. What a shame? Do these ‘eminent’ sons and daughters of Africa read, document and access information before uttering words that can derail a country’s democratic progression for years to come? Do the mysterious deaths of a leading opposition politician and an independent journalist (which also attracted the attention of the UN Secretary General) mean anything to them? What about the information, evidence and testimonies of torture that are well documented all over in international media including the BBC? The closure of all independent media and barring serious opposition parties from contesting through extra-judicial means? Surely, don’t all these translate into intimidation? Ugly writings on the wall depicting ‘preparations for election victory’ for the Rwanda Patriotic front (RPF) government?
If summed up, don’t all these malpractices reflect what one foreign policy writer, recently called ‘political participation, where there is one participant’?
There are several other questions to ask. Where did the African Union Observers get information? And how did they get to the conclusion? I will volunteer the answer.  They talked to the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, the Police, and other government and RPF organs.
And yes. They were told: ‘the murders were either revenge cases against genocide perpetrators’. Others, they were further told, were just victims of robberies gone wrong, or the mere rantings of disgruntled journalists.
But did the honorable observers make effort to find out from other independent sources? Did they hear about citizens being barred from attending other campaign trails, save for Kagame’s; intimidation and about the arrests of political party leaders? Unfortunately No. And, going by their statement, they didn’t have to. What for?
The real mission of the AU, it seems, is to perpetuate and fuel African dictatorship by avoiding criticize the leaders’ misdeeds against their citizenry. Actually, with all the resources spent by the AU and its long list of attendant organs, the ‘achievements’ can be traced in the on-going conflicts in Somalia, perennial crises in DRC, Chad, Sudan and deepening autocracy in about every other African country. That simply surmises its abysmal failure.
That noted however, there is one disturbing fact that bedevils Africans: they don’t believe they deserve better. A couple of murders, arrests, torture and all the repression evident in Rwanda are not enough to suggest that things are not good. Unfortunately, ‘No’.
Upon this realization, therefore, one might place little or no blame at all on some of our western 'partners' like Frans Makken, the Dutch Ambassador to Rwanda, whose recent utterances sounded like ‘what if some people have been killed, arbitrarily arrested, papers shut-this is still Africa…,’ after all, ‘the graves are not yet full’.
As a result, the likes of Makken will always be vindicated and absolved from guilt arising out of such skewed thinking if officials of organizations like the African Union  continue posturing themselves as lame ducks, incapable of standing up to be counted among the pillars of civilization.
Over to you Jean Ping and Bingu wa Mutharika

The author is the Managing Editor of The Newsline
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