AU Begins Peer Review
Considers Ghana, Rwanda

Josephine Lohor
  Abuja This Day  (Lagos) June 20, 2005

African Union leaders yesterday in Abuja examined the report of the
African Peer Review panel which specifically looked at progress in
two of its member countries.

The countries reviewed, Ghana and Rwanda, were one of the earliest
within the union to sign up with African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)
after its launch in March 2003. Yesterday's meeting was the first to
consider the report of African Peer Review panel.

The meeting, under the Chairmanship of President Olusegun Obasanjo,
identified gender inequality as one problem hindering human resource
mobilisation in the two countries. It also identified about $127
billion of pension fund available in 14 African countries, which
could be harnessed for the funding of high priority projects of the
New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

The AU leaders agreed on a time table to do away with subsidies on
agriculture products, and accelerate the implementation of NEPAD
partnership with the G8 in the establishment of a development fund of
$20 billion by the end of 2005. They also committed themselves to
increasing budgetary support for the peace and security programmes of
the AU.

The initial study commissioned by the NEPAD secretariat, on how to
source funding for the establishment of Pan African Infrastructure
Develop-ment Fund, the resolution noted, identified a huge control of
$127 billion in pension funds, which could be used for the fund.

According to the report presented by the chairperson of the panel,
Marie-Angelique Savanne of Cameroon, areas examined include Democracy
and Political Governance; Economic Governance and Management.

In Ghana the panel described as best practice, the country's effort
to build and maintain peace and tranquility despite three elections
and transfer of government from individual to individual and from one
party to another.

"Ghana could rightly be described as an oasis of peace and
tranquility in a sub region perpetually in turmoil. Since the return
to democratic rule in 1992, Ghana has had success in consolidating
and strengthening democracy. Ghana has had three successful
post-transition competitive multi party elections. The result has
been the democratic and orderly transfer of power from one party to
another and from one president to another," the panel stated in the

It acknowledged the country's effort to broaden the space for
national dialogue by instituting the Annual Governance Forum, the
Peoples Assembly and the National Economic Dialogue.

In that area the panel urged Ghana to ratify outstanding standards
and codes as outlined by the APRM. It also noted potential dispute
areas in the country especially land disputes, chieftaincy disputes
and political disputes relating to elections.

The report asked Ghana to streamline the effectiveness of the
separation of powers by looking at the fusion of legislature and the
executive as some ministers are sitting legislators.

It expressed concern with the size of its 88-member executive,
presence of the ministry of parliamentary affairs, blurring the line
between the executive and legislature. The report also identified the
inability of the constitution to specify a maximum number of judges
to serve on the Supreme Court.

The report called for affirmative action to include more women in
government and decision making process of the country, adding that
Ghana needs to improve its public service delivery mechanism.

On economic governance and management the report noted efforts at
forging regional integration, saying that Ghana's economy is
relatively weak and highly vulnerable to external shocks, especially
the vagaries of world trade and sub-regional political instability.

The report pointed out that "successful transformation of the
productive structure of the economy has remained elusive, as has firm
control over the budget"

It also established weak internal capacity for economic management
relying so much on external resources and policy advice, noting that
corruption was impeding on good governance.

On Rwanda the panel noted that while the country ratified all the
codes and standards established for good governance, it is yet to
completely meet up with the requirement for reporting on its works.

The panel recommended that Rwanda harmonises its domestic laws to
international legal norms and standards; deepen national
reconciliation efforts; and encourage a policy of inclusiveness and
win the trust of all citizens.

The report noted that the country's best practice is a record of
having the highest proportion of women in parliament (49%) and 36% in
the cabinet.

On economic governance and management in Rwanda, the panel
recommended continuation of public finance reforms, improved capacity
to review economic document and policy, broadened tax base, and
increased capacity of Rwandan parliament to review economic document.

Obasanjo in his opening statement said discussion on the report will
open in the next meeting while the two countries reported will
address the meeting on what they intends to do with the panel finding.

At the meeting were leaders of South Africa (Thabo Mbeki), Rwanda
(Paul Kagame), Sierra Leone (Tejan Kabba), Ghana (John Kuffour),
Algeria Abdoulahi Bouteflika).

The prime minister of Mozambique, ministers from Egypt, Benin
Republic, Angola, Kenya and Zambia also attended the meeting held at
the Nicon Hilton Hotel in Abuja.