As part of a sub-regional project to ratify, popularize and implement the African Union and ECOWAS instruments on Democracy, Good Governance and Elections, Liberia yesterday launched its national platform in Monrovia.
Speaking at the launching program Grand Bassa Representative Gabriel Smith said: “Democracy, as we know, remains a universal ideal that provides a platform for the articulation and aggregation of contending views in society, all geared in the direction of optimizing available opportunities provided by society for the good of its citizens and those that are resident within its sphere of influence.”
Representative Smith said on the other hand, elections and governance are key implements of democracy and the success or failure of a political system is thus measured by the degree to which the custodians of democratic values the people — utilize these two implements.
He said elections creates the platform for conscious decision making, that translates into the expression of the inner desires of a people regarding the direction in which they would like to propel their national vision at a particular point in time.
Delivering the Keynote address at the occasion the Speaker of the House of Representatives Mr. Alex Tyler in a speech delivered on his behalf by Mr. Edwin Clarke his Chief of Office Staff said “good Governance is giving ear to the people, continuous consultation and policy implementation from a people.
He said it is engaging and treating the opinion of the Legislature, the elected representatives of the people with respect and a little value.
“In my opinion, it is a misconception that embracing democracy and or Good Governance lead to economic progress. The World Bank and IMF and their allied institutions have offer this democratic prescription, of course with financial support for soda-economic development, Speaker Tyler said.
The House Speaker said “good Governance which is a creature of democracy has been proffer as a way to engender economic growth, as a way to achieve economic and social justice democracy is and should not be the only panacea for economic development.”
The Speaker said “democracy must be made to provide political environment and stability for development. It must be made to create the climate to correct economic ills and corruption, protect the sanctity of their own institutions.”
Speaker Tyler further said, “weak institutions such as political parties and civil society organizations that put themselves on shells to be purchased by government, allowing political leaders the leeway to corrupt, manipulate and sometimes abuse the system through clever maneuvers and blatant actions , such as the appointment of friends and relatives against public outcry, the appointment of partisan figures to head democratic institutions are not worthy of being in existence.”
For his part the President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) Mr. Peter Quaqua said: “I submit that no measure of difficulty should distract the media from its traditional responsibility. The public care less about the backroom troubles and the state of mind of the media when it goes to press; excuses are unacceptable in this business and journalists who are prone to excuses, so easily lose their credibility. The media must position itself to buttress the people’s aspiration for democracy and good governance.”
Mr. Quaqua said investigative and socially responsible journalism has proven to be the biggest weapon that most non complaint governments to global norms fear.
He said it shames public officials and vindicates the media as a helpful and reliable watchdog. “Democracy and good governance as espoused by the ECOWAS protocol require the active participation of citizens. In an ideal world, it is the media that keeps citizens engaged with the governance process by informing, educating and mobilizing the public into positive action,” the PUL President said.
He said the Liberian media landscape, like most media environments in the sub-region, is rife with social, political and economic implications. “Ours is growing fast in number, but slow in content diversity. I submit to you however that the campaign to popularize these two instruments should be a bit easier and welcoming in the many media outlets operating in the country because the media here appears to be more inclined to following political stories,” Mr. Quaqua told the audience.
“Evidently, the two documents – the African Charter and ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol are political instruments, designed to hold member states of the AU and ECOWAS accountable to their peoples in the democratic movement. Count one under the objectives of the African Charter seeks to, “Promote adherence, by each State Party, to the universal values and principles of democracy and respect for human rights,” the PUL president said.”
Essentially, the launch of the platform will entail the presentation of the national plan of action and is the beginning of a project which seeks to deepen emerging democracies that domesticate principles of both AU and ECOWAS instruments.
Salaudeen Hashim is the Liason Officer, West Africa Civil Society Forum (WACSOF),
Tel: GSM: 234-08033844646