By Omar Bah
Following a daylong meeting in Banjul, rights groups have issued a communiqué calling on the African Union, through the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), to do more to ensure that guns are silenced and coups are curbed, and democracy deepened.
The rights groups expressed deep concern over the democratic backsliding in many African Union member states since the Covid-19 pandemic, which witnessed massive public discontent and protests over rights violations, high costs of living, and increasing impunity across the board.
“The regional democratic backsliding was also a concern. In Ecowas, three countries (Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal) resisted a regional amendment to the Supplementary Protocol on Good Governance and Democracy, which would have required member states to introduce and respect term limits in their constitutions,” the communiqué stated.
According to the groups, the civic space has shrunk over the period, with a raft of laws aimed at silencing critics mushrooming across the continent.
There are at least six conflicts currently ongoing in Africa. The Sahel remains a major theatre of operations for terrorist groups, as does Cabo Delgado in Mozambique.
The groups urged the AU to revitalise partnerships in a post-Covid world between African citizens and between pan-African institutions mandated to elevate and better the lives of Africans through strengthening human rights, good governance, transparency, accountability, and popular participation.