Ethiopia: AU concerned by low turnout of women, youth on election days in Africa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) – Low participation of citizens in elections held in Africa and abuse of the social media by some sections of the civil society and political parties are matters of concern to the African Union (AU), according to a communiqué issued Wednesday by the Peace and Security Council (PSC).

The Council has particularly noted the low turnout by the youth and women during elections due to declining public trust in the institutions entrusted with managing the conduct of elections, among other reasons.

In this regard, the Council has urged AU Member States to make deliberate efforts towards ensuring and promoting popular participation in democratic processes, including through civic and voter education.

The PSC held a session on post-elections analysis and upcoming elections in Africa at which the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Ambassador Cessouma Minata Samate, reported on elections and a constitutional referendum held in Africa from January to August 2017.

During this period, polls were conducted in Algeria, Angola, Republic of Congo, The Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda and Senegal while a constitutional referendum was held in Mauritania. Upcoming elections are due to be held in Liberia later this year.

According to the communiqué, the PSC has noted with concern the trend in some countries toward abuse of the media and warned that it “can potentially undermine the credibility of the electoral processes and trigger violent conflicts.”

“Council stresses the importance of Member States to further strengthen their national regulatory instruments and mechanisms in order to prevent media abuse during elections,” it stated.

Also, the PSC has called on civil society actors to always prioritize and support Africa’s socioeconomic agenda, including during periods of elections, as part of the overall efforts to realize the AU’s vision of a peaceful, developed, integrated and prosperous Africa, in line with AU’s Agenda 2063.

Welcoming the progress made by Member States in deepening and consolidating the democratic culture and practice through the holding of periodic credible elections, the Council noted that in that way they prevent conflicts and promote sustainable peace, security, stability and development in their countries.

The PSC has urged Member States to prevent political parties and civil society groups from establishing youth militias for purposes of promoting campaigns of violence ahead of, during and after elections, as this tends to undermine the credibility of the electoral process.

“In the same context, Council urges Member States to ensure respect  and promotion of human rights before, during and after elections,” read the communiqué.

Also, the Council has advised political parties to desist from resorting to the use of violence as a way of expressing their disaffection over the outcomes of elections but rather, to make full use of all available legal channels in resolving any election related disputes
-0- PANA AR 30Aug2017

30 august 2017 18:36:42

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