The Socialist International Africa Committee, hosted by the Socialist Party of Senegal, held a meeting in Dakar on 12-13 July 2004. Three speeches were given at the opening ceremony:
- a welcoming address by Jacques Baudin, Head of External Relations of the Socialist Party of Senegal;
- a speech by Luis Ayala, Secretary General of the Socialist International;
- and a speech by Ousmane Tanor Dieng, First Secretary of the Socialist Party of Senegal and Chair of the Committee.
Following the opening ceremony, the delegates met in a closed plenary session to address the issues on the agenda.
THE THEMES EXAMINED BY THE DELEGATES
Rich and fruitful debates followed an introduction to each of the following themes:
- Democracy and electoral processes
- Good governance and economic development
- Conflicts in Africa: the case of Côte d'Ivoire.
1. The delegates firstly noted the interrelation and interdependence of the three themes. In this framework, different observations were made with regard to the general situation in Africa and notably:
- The weak contribution of the African economy to the world economy
- The frequent intra- or inter-state conflicts
- The deficit of democracy and good governance
- The weakness of political culture of the masses
- The varied and diverse expressions of modes and conditions of applying democracy
- Democracy, development and peace appear to be factors which are mutually dependent
- The role and responsibility of élites in eradicating the manipulation of populations, ethnic and different groups and in the struggle against corruption and in bringing about good governance.
2. More specifically on each of the three themes
A - With regard to 'Democracy and electoral processes'
Free and transparent elections are necessary in order to guarantee stability, social peace and the conscious and willing participation of all in development. Although considerable democratic progress has been made in certain African countries, in others, to the contrary, the holding of elections which are neither free, fair, nor transparent, clearly shows the existence of a confiscation of electoral power. Furthermore the political deadlock in Mauritania, the Republic of Guinea, Cameroon, and in Equatorial Guinea, is particularly worrying.
- The necessary conditions for democracy are based as well on other needs which are also absent in the cases of these countries.
- The need for states in the region to guarantee a minimum legal framework for a reliable electoral process.
- The existence of a consensual participatory undertaking before the adoption of all electoral laws to ensure a balanced representation of all sectors of society - men, women and young people.
- The establishment of impartial national bodies responsible for ensuring electoral processes are carried out successfully.
B - With regard to 'Good governance and economic development'
The delegates agreed the following:
- Bad governance and poverty are widely present in Africa;
- Good governance is a condition, a means and an end to achieving development;
- There are several ways of understanding good governance which must be agreed upon in order to put in place, for example, the fight against corruption, transparent political financing, an independent justice system, a credible parliament, efficient allocation of resources, etc.;
- Good governance is also a notion which must be continually questioned, challenged and redefined according to our own terms of reference;
- Africa has been subjected to adjustment policies for a long period. These policies have had mixed results, notably their impact on the life of the poor: unemployment is getting worse and there is insufficient importance placed on education, health and employment;
- Integration is the best way forward for development (see the experiences of the West African Economic and Monetary Union, WAEMU, the Organisation for the Development of the Senegalese River, OMVS, and the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS);
- Africa is behind but not condemned;
- To make sure that globalisation is an opportunity for Africa;
- Economic programmes must be at the heart of socialist parties’ projects for society;
- Development is qualitative (it is economic, cultural and social);
- The state must have a greater regulatory role.
C - With regard to 'Conflicts in Africa: the case of the Côte d'Ivoire'
- Africa is a continent marked by instability due to intra- and inter-state violence and conflicts;
- Understanding the nature of the causes and consequences of the conflicts in Africa is a condition, in great part, to their resolution and to the future of the continent;
- Africa is a weakened, attacked, dominated, coveted continent whose conflicts have their origin in both external and internal factors;
- The rule of law, the respect for institutions of the Republic, good governance, pluralism, dialogue and citizens' awareness count among the most determining factors in preventing and resolving conflicts in Africa;
- Including this point on the agenda, notably the case of the Côte d'Ivoire, highlights the will of the members of the Africa Committee to better understand this complex situation, to help to find a solution and to mark their solidarity with the Côte d'Ivoire and with the Ivorian Popular Front, FPI, of President Laurent Gbagbo so that all the actors in political life can once again find the path of dialogue and reconciliation;
- With regard to Burundi, it has been recommended to scrupulously respect the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, signed on 28 August 2000, and to come rapidly to a compromise on the organisation of elections thus allowing all parts of the nation to be represented in the post-transitory institutions.
3. Recommendations for initiatives to be undertaken by the Socialist International (and the Africa Committee)
The delegates have formulated a certain number of recommendations for the leading bodies of the Socialist International.
- To continue to safeguard socialist and democratic values through the work of the bodies of the Socialist International, and in this framework it welcomes the creation of the Ethics Committee within the International.
- To support socialist and democratic forces actively in all countries of the continent to counter widespread liberalism;
- To express greater solidarity with member parties of the SI which are engaged in electoral contests, by contributing to the observation of these elections;
- To encourage and support adopting mechanisms of prevention and resolution of crises;
- In the face of globalisation, to maximise the position and role of the Socialist International as a force for challenging and countering economic and liberal upheavals;
- To make the choice to fight in unison and in solidarity for African integration.
- To work for the strengthening of and solidarity between socialist African parties.
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