Former President, Goodluck Jonathan, has emerged as the chairman of the newly inaugurated African Union’s International Summit Council for Peace (ISCP).
He was announced chairperson of the ISCP, a body made up of mainly former African Presidents and ex-Heads of State, during the International Leadership Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The two-day conference tagged ‘Africa Summit and Leaders Conference 2019’ had in attendance government officials, former African Heads of State, clergy and traditional rulers from across Africa.
Jonathan, on Friday, in his keynote speech titled ‘The Need for Good Governance and Peaceful Electioneering Process in Africa,’ noted that the credibility and legitimacy of electoral processes are hugely dependent on the competence, impartiality and independence of electoral management bodies (EMBs).
He urged AU to set minimum acceptable standards for appointing the leadership of electoral commissions as a means of building citizen confidence and ensuring credibility of elections on the continent.
He also stressed that many African nations face election-related crises in cases where the citizens have no confidence in the electoral process, especially when they suspect that the election umpires do the bidding of the partisan appointing authorities.
The former President said: “It is interesting that almost all the EMBs in Africa are identified with the prefix ‘Independent’, but the jury is still out on whether these agencies are truly independent as their names imply.”
“The AU should, through its Political Affairs Department, set up a team of electoral experts to study different models and recommend the system they consider best for the continent.
“Such benchmark should also take cognizance of the need to review the election of judicial processes to ensure that, where election tribunals are set up to specifically handle election cases, one judicial officer do not handle the role of appointing all members of the tribunals.
“Since neutrality of the security services is absolutely necessary in ensuring free and fair elections, it is also important that the Africa Union should establish a code of conduct guiding security officials in charge of elections. All these recommendations should be accommodated in AU’s procedures for elections that should serve as guidelines for election observers.”
Jonathan praised South Africans for the peaceful conduct of last May’s national and provincial elections, adding that the credibility of the process stemmed from the fact that all the stakeholders in the elections had confidence in the electoral commission and the security systems.
As the Chairman of International Summit Council for Peace the former President is expected to lead the charge for the association’s crusade for peace and good governance on the continent.