The Elections Year in Africa has come to a close with the Parliamentary Elections which took place in Gabon on the 17 December 2011. In total, 28 elections were organised on the Continent. What a record! This is a sign that democracy is gaining grounds, against all odds, in a Continent where recourse to inclusive electoral systems has become the norm and the instrument for democratic governance.
The African Union (AU) was present in all these elections in accordance with the mandate given to it by the leaders of Africa, with the primary objective of not only promoting democracy but also peace, stability and security as necessary preconditions for harmonious development.
Of the 28 elections organised on the Continent, the AU deployed its observers in 26 of Member States. Seychelles and Egypt elections were not observed for reasons beyond its control.
It is important to note that in terms of the relevant provisions of the OAU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa (AHG/Decl. 1 XXXVIII), the African Union Guidelines for Elections Observation and Monitoring Missions adopted in Durban in 2002, and the various instruments and guidelines of Member States on electoral processes, the responsibility to observe and assess the regularity, transparency, fairness and the smooth running of electoral processes in all Member States devolves on the Union.
The Observation Missions of the African Union that are conducted, independently, are led by high level political personalities and heads of credible Electoral Management Bodies, with members usually drawn from the following professional groupings: Electoral Management Bodies of Member States; the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the Union (ECOSOCC); Civil Society Organisations; the Panafrican Parliament; Human Rights Bodies; and lastly, Ambassadors accredited to the African Union in Addis Ababa.