9 March 2017

Mozambique: Assembly Ratifies African Charter On Democracy

Maputo — The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Thursday unanimously passed a motion to ratify the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

The Charter was adopted at the 2007 African Union heads of state summit and Mozambique signed the document in 2010.

The charter's declared intentions are “to promote adherence to the universal values and principles of democracy and respect for human rights”, and “the principle of the rule of law premised upon respect for and the supremacy of the Constitution and constitutional order”.

This entails “the holding of regular free and fair elections to institutionalize legitimate authority of representative government as well as the democratic change of governments”.

The charter also commits AU members to political pluralism, the separation of powers, promotion of gender equality, and the effective participation of citizens in governance.

Signatories to this charter are obliged “to strengthen and institutionalize civilian control over the armed and security forces”, and “to take legislative and regulatory measures to ensure that those who attempt to remove an elected government through unconstitutional means are dealt with in accordance with the law”.

In the event of a coup, or other unconstitutional transfer of power, the signatories of this charter are committed to working together to restore constitutional rule and to see that those who sought to overthrow a legitimate government are brought to justice.

Any unconstitutional change of government will also lead to the suspension of the country concerned from the AU, and “punitive economic measures” may be taken against those involved in overthrowing democratic legitimacy.

This was entirely uncontroversial, and the only change sought by deputies was to improve the Portuguese translation of the Charter.

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