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Post-Election Violence in Africa: Bar. Stanislaus Ajong Recommends ratifying and implementing African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance

November 18, 2020

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Stanislaus A. Ajong  is a Chevening Scholar and  Past President- Fako Lawyers Association (FAKLA)
Stanislaus A. Ajong is a Chevening Scholar and Past President- Fako Lawyers Association (FAKLA)

It has been observed in many African countries that what immediately follows after elections is violence. Cameroon, Nigeria have all faced violence shortly after holding their Presidential elections – something which the opposition parties says was marred by election malpractices.

Barrister Stanislaus Ajong, erstwhile President of FAKLA in a presentation titled Dealing with elections are a major source of conflicts in Africa. Who mostly undermines the process? Politicians or other stakeholders? Presented during the African Bar Association’s 2020 Virtual conference from November 9-12 says Africa needs a change of mentality in appreciating elections and public management. The desire to get to public office should be motivated by the urge to service and giving back to the community.

The 2020 Virtual conference of the AFBA which was held in Niamey, Niger was on the theme: “Resetting Africa’s socio-economic and political agenda in the post-COVID-19 era; how lawyers can lead”

Focusing on Article 17 which states: “State Parties re-affirm their commitment to regularly holding transparent, free and fair elections per the Union’s Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa”, the Chairman, Cameroon Country Coordination African Bar Association (AFBA) says if this principle is implemented without manipulating the system, persons of integrity and respect for public funds will take the mantle and execute the wishes of the people.

“We seize the moment to congratulate the government of Niger through the President His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou as I read and understand that he will not be seeking to succeed himself in the next elections billed for December 2020,” Barrister Ajong stated.

“Eternalizing rulership leads to a lack of public accountability invariably inviting conflict at one time or the other. Politicians and stakeholders are responsible in varying degrees for the conflicts arising from elections in Africa.”

To Barrister Ajong, what has been noticed in Africa is that there is a tendency for the Executive to lord it over the other arms of government. The constitution is shaped to guarantee the aspirations of individuals rather than building resilient institutions. With a judiciary where members are appointed and dismissed by the head of the executive, the population is left frustrated when they seek to legally challenge electoral fraud. This leads to one outcome: conflict, He said.

“This explains why some conflicts may only surface many years after the elections. We hold that the politicians and the different stakeholders play their respective roles making elections look like a circus. As stated earlier, this can be corrected. Africa is not doomed,” Barrister Ajong explained.

The African continent is endowed with vast mineral resources. It is these natural resources that play a major role in how elections are managed in Africa. “The politicians have their interests to protect and usually employ all conceivable tricks to attain their goal. Their actions are in the main facilitated and guaranteed by some powerful stakeholders,” Barrister Stanislaus Ajong, Member, Executive Council – African Bar Association (AFBA) said.

Barrister Ajong’s presentation which was narrowed to Presidential elections in Africa to answer the sticky question of conflicts after such elections added that there is a colonial agreement signed between Cameroun and France in 1959 which gives the latter an unbelievable hold on the economy of the former. Going by this agreement, France has the interest to protect her gains by closely watching who is at the helm of management in the country. The agreement implicitly makes France an undisputed stakeholder and interested party in determining who is at the wheel of affairs at every given time.

Parts of the Agreement read;

1- France shall determine Cameroon’s political, economic, and sociocultural orientations.

2- France shall manufacture money for Cameroon, the FCFA

3- France shall guide the determination of Cameroon’s educational programs at all levels

4-The French public treasury shall have a portfolio named operations to account to cover 100% of Cameroon’s foreign exchange. NB: Have been subsequently amended to 50%

5- France shall be given priority in the exploitation of Cameroon’s strategic raw materials. In the event where France is not interested Cameroon may seek other partners or exploit the raw material herself.

6- 10th November 1961: Military Assistance. Each time that the Cameroonian president is overwhelmed by external aggression or internal rebellion, he may call on French military assistance. In the event where the Cameroonian president is unable to seek this assistance by any form of communication, the French ambassador to Cameroon can make the request instead of Cameroonian authorities.

Eternalizing rulership leads to a lack of public accountability invariably inviting conflict at one time or the other,says Barrister Ajong

“The politicians have their interests to protect and usually employ all conceivable tricks to attain their goal. Their actions are in the main facilitated and guaranteed by some powerful stakeholders,” Barrister Stanislaus Ajong said.

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