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AfriForum has taken note with concern and disappointment ofthe cancellation of an extraordinary summit ofthe African Peer Review Mechanism(APRM) that would have taken place in Kenya this month. The summit was cancelled at the eleventh hourand delegates from 35 countries had to changetheir travel arrangements.
The APRM was establishedin 2003 after the members of the African Union had agreed that such a voluntary peer review mechanism was essential. Its mandateis to establish common political, economic and corporate governance values and standards amongAfrican countries and to set objectives regarding the continent’s socio-economic development. It is astructure by means of which African governments can be held accountable by their peers and civil society. A South African highlight was the launch of the first APRM report by South African civil society organizations(of which AfriForum was also part) in 2011. The report voiced criticism regarding the South Africangovernment’s handling of issues such as media freedom; corruption; the separation between the interests of the stateand the ruling party;cadre deployment and xenophobia.
According to Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum responsible for international liaison, the cancellationof the summit is disappointing because it was hoped that itwould have served to revive the APRM’s operations, thereby encouraging governments to act with more accountability towardscivil society.
“At this stage, no alternative date for the summit has been announced. Meanwhile the APRM is struggling ahead, burdened by a lack of funding. Apparently noparticipating country has submitted a second report yet either. It seems to be yet another positive African initiative that has run aground due to African governments’ lack of accountability and political will to act in the interests of civil society,” shesaid.
AfriForumsupports a statement issued by several civil society organizations that calls for a summit to be held in order that key positions in the APRM can be filled; countriesin arrears with payment of membership fees, should pay; governments should be refamiliarized with the functions and significance of the APRM; overdue reports should be submitted; more space should be created for civil society organizations to participate in the activities of the APRM; and to ensure that recommendations of the APRM should continuously form a partof debates at the highestlevels of government in Africa.
“As civil society organization, it is of keyimportance for AfriForum that our community should have a sustainable, safe, free and prosperous futurehere. Strong national and international institutions that hold governments accountable, is one way in which thiscan be ensured and thus it is of the greatest importance that institutions such as the APRM should succeed and thrive,” she added.
Issued by AfriForum