The African Union (AU), in collaboration with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and with the support of ACCORD and the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), convened the 5th Retreat of the Pan-African Network of the Wise (PanWise). This Retreat took place in Kampala, Uganda from 16-17 November 2017.
The recent increase in electoral violence taking place within countries on the African continent has raised concerns on the impact this is having on democracy and in governance systems in general. Noting that many African countries will hold elections during the course of 2018 and 2020, the Retreat focused on the timely and relevant theme on “Trends in democracy, elections and governance in Africa, and their implications for peace-making”. In order to address the electoral challenges and to strengthen the AU’s and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs) responses to these challenges, the Retreat brought together key individuals and institutions, including members of the AU Panel of the Wise; AU Special Envoys and High-Level Representatives; the Council of Elders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); the Mediation Reference Group and the Panel of Elders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC); and the Committee of Elders of COMESA. In addition, high level experts, civil society organisations and academics participated in the Retreat.
The sessions focused on various elements that spoke to the overall theme of the Retreat. This included: Democracy and Conflict in Africa in General and in COMESA in Particular; the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) and the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework (CSCPF) – AU Instruments to Address the Structural Prevention of Conflict in the Field of Democracy and Governance/Monitoring, Reporting and Compliance Mechanisms for Democracy, Elections and Governance; Agenda 2063 and the AU Institutional Reform; Reflections on Mediating electoral processes; and Strengthening PanWise at the Grassroots Level. At the end of the Retreat, there was an introduction of FemWise-Uganda, a network that will work towards strengthening the engagement of women in preventing and resolving conflicts.
The discussions brought forward the following recommendations: the strengthening of existing governance, religious and civil society institutions; having a sound understanding of the contextual analysis of the country; identifying relevant mediators who should be chosen on the specific nature of the crises; as well as imposing harsher penalties where acts of corruption are committed by those elected in leadership roles.
ACCORD will continue to support PanWise towards strengthening the collaboration and capacities of the AU, RECs/RMs and institutions at the national and local levels towards conflict prevention and resolution on the continent.