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African Commitments to Democracy in Theory and Practice
A review of eight NEPAD countries

By Anne Hammerstad
A Monograph for the African Human Security Initiative


The African Human Security Initiative (AHSI)

AHSI is a network of seven African non-governmental research organisations that
have come together to measure the performance of key African governments in
promoting human security. The project is inspired by a wish to contribute to the
ambitions of the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and
the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). Whereas the APRM process has defined
a comprehensive set of objectives, standards, criteria and indicators that cover four
broad areas, AHSI only engages with one of the four, namely issues of political
governance in so far as these relate to human security. Within this area, each AHSI
partner has identified a set of key commitments that African leaders have entered into
at the level of OAU/AU heads of states meetings and summits. A “shadow review” of
how these commitments have been implemented in practice has then been conducted.
Eight countries have been chosen for review, namely Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya,
Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. All eight are members of NEPAD and have
acceded to the APRM. While not constituting an exhaustive list of human security
challenges in Africa, the AHSI Network selected the following seven clusters of
commitments: human rights, democracy and governance; civil society engagement;
small arms and light weapons; peacekeeping and conflict resolution; anti-corruption;
and terrorism and organised crime. The AHSI partners are the South African Institute
for International Affairs (SAIIA), the Institute for Human Rights and Development in
Africa (IHRDA), the Southern Africa Human Rights Trust (SAHRIT), the West African
Network for Peace (WANEP), the African Security Dialogue and Research (ASDR),
the African Peace Forum (APFO) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).
The project is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Table of contents

Preface - 61kb

Acronyms and abbreviations - 47kb

Executive summary - 77kb

Chapter One
Reviewing democracy and human security in Africa - 111kb
1.1 The background
1.2 Structure and contents of this report
1.3 Understanding democracy and human security
1.3.1 What is human security?
1.3.2 The relationship between good political governance and democracy
1.4 The choice of AU democracy commitments andhow to review them
1.4.1 The sources
1.4.2 The commitments
1.5 The eight countries under review
1.6 Conclusion
Chapter Two
From votes to political power: How fair is the electoral system? - 130kb
2.1 How are votes transformed into seats?
2.2 Constituency boundary demarcation
2.3 Abuse of state resources for election purposes
2.4 Conclusion
Chapter Three
Electoral Commissions - 117kb
3.1 Electoral Commissions: structure and legal roles
3.1.1 Independent commissions: Ghana and South Africa
3.1.2 Less independent commissions: Kenya, Uganda,Ethiopia, Nigeria
3.1.3 Divided responsibilities: Senegal and Algeria
3.2 Independence and power in practice
3.2.1 Adequate resources?
3.2.2 Respect for electoral laws
3.3 Conclusion
Chapter Four
Voter registration systems: Ensuring that voters vote and nobody else - 103kb
4.1 Systems of voter registration
4.2 The practice of voter registration: from capacity problems to fraud
4.3 Conclusion
Chapter Five
Party politics and the right to be critical - 107kb
5.1 The front-runners
5.2 The less pluralist systems
5.3 The “no-party state”
5.4 Conclusion
Chapter Six
Exclusive or inclusive political system: Who benefit from state resources, jobs and goods? - 108kb
6.1 Relatively inclusive political systems
6.2 Politics of exclusion and marginalisation
6.3 Conclusion
Chapter Seven
Term limits for Heads of State - 485kb
7.1 Introducing term limits and keeping them
7.2 The “wait and see” countries
7.3 From the theory to the practice of stepping down
7.4 Term limits as a guise
7.5 Conclusion
Chapter Eight
The independence of the judiciary: Constitutional guarantees and practical clout - 113kb
8.1 The power of a strong constitution
8.2 Arriving at judicial independence
8.3 Legal loopholes and political opportunism
8.4 An arm of government rather than a check on power
8.5 Conclusion
Chapter Nine - 74kb

Addendum - 102kb