Former Nigeria President, Goodluck Jonathan, has emerged as the Chairman of the African Union’s International Summit Council for Peace (ISCP), a body made up of mainly African former Presidents and ex-Heads of State.
Speaking at the International Leadership Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he emerged as the chairperson of the newly inaugurated ISCP, Jonathan urged the AU to set minimum acceptable standards for appointing the leadership of electoral commissions.
The two-day conference tagged ‘Africa Summit and Leaders Conference 2019’ has in attendance government officials, former African Heads of State, clergy and traditional rulers from across Africa.
In a keynote speech titled ‘The Need for Good Governance and Peaceful Electioneering Process in Africa,’ Jonathan noted that the credibility and legitimacy of electoral processes, are hugely dependent on the competence, impartiality and independence of electoral management bodies (EMBs). He said:
“It is interesting that almost all the EMBs in Africa are identified with the prefix ‘Independent’, but the jury is still out on whether these agencies are truly independent as their names imply.
“The AU should, through its Political Affairs Department, set up a team of electoral experts to study different models and recommend the system they consider best for the continent.
“Such benchmark should also take cognizance of the need to review the election of judicial processes to ensure that, where election tribunals are set up to specifically handle election cases, one judicial officer do not handle the role of appointing all members of the tribunals.
“Since neutrality of the security services is absolutely necessary in ensuring free and fair elections, it is also important that the Africa Union should establish a code of conduct guiding security officials in charge of elections. All these recommendations should be accommodated in AU’s procedures for elections that should serve as guidelines for election observers.”
Jonathan went on to praise South Africans, for the peaceful conduct of last May’s national and provincial elections.
“Once you get to that point where all role players in elections can express confidence in the umpire and the security systems, you would have solved more than 70% of your electoral challenges. Sadly, not many African countries have got to this point. The point where they can beat their chest and boast of political freedom, inclusiveness, independence of the electoral management body and credibility of the political process,” he added.