The meeting of the SI Africa Committee in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on 30 June - 1 July, was chaired by Ousmane Tanor Dieng, Socialist Party of Senegal, and Chair of the Committee, and hosted by the Social Democratic Front, SDF, of Cameroon.
The agenda of the meeting included the strengthening of democratic institutions and electoral processes, the promotion of peace and the relieving of suffering, and the International's global campaign to fight poverty in Africa.
The National Chair of the SDF, John Fru Ndi, welcomed the gathered delegates to Yaoundé and expressed the honour that the SDF felt hosting this meeting which would "determine the evolution of democratic processes in Cameroon, Africa and other developing countries". (Full list of participants)
Only through "free, fair and transparent elections", John Fru Ndi insisted, would the population, opposition parties and civil society, each playing their respective roles, adhere to the ruling government and confer legitimacy on it "by transcending parochial interest and working collectively for the national good". One of the goals of the meeting, he said, was "to examine how to attain a genuine system of elections where the will of the people shall be respected".
Other speakers addressing the meeting included Ousmane Tanor Dieng, First Secretary of the Socialist Party of Senegal, and Luis Ayala, SI Secretary General. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, President of ADEMA-PASJ of Mali and a Vice-President of the SI, also addressed the meeting, introducing one of the agenda items.
Delegates expressed their belief in free, fair and transparent elections, organised by independent electoral commissions. They called for an effective balance of powers between political institutions, free press and an independent judiciary, constitutional control over electoral results out of the hands of the government, and an acceptance on the part of political parties of democratic alternance, as exemplified by the Socialist Party of Senegal.
In the discussion on promoting peace and relieving suffering delegates emphasised the responsibility of the international community, especially the UN and the OAU, in preventive diplomacy, conflict regulation and resolution in Africa.
Contributors to the discussion on fighting poverty in Africa highlighted the enormous burden of debt in many countries, some of which was linked to corrupt and undemocratic regimes. The role of the IMF and the World Bank was also considered.
The Yaoundé Declaration, adopted by the SI Africa Committee, while applauding the acceptance of democratic alternance in Senegal, condemned "the total blockage of the democratic electoral processes in countries like Cameroon, Togo, Guinea and Equatorial Guinea". The Committee called on "the socialist family, especially those in government to exert maximum pressure on those African governments that are still insensitive to democratic principles and values". It rejected any version of democracy not conforming to "universal democratic principles".
On conflicts and threats to peace and stability in Africa, the Declaration recommended "the creation and implementation of mechanisms for prevention and management of conflict". It also reaffirmed its belief that "democracy, good governance and social justice are necessary conditions for peace".
The Declaration considered that a combination of debt burden, corruption, the dependency of African countries with the developed world, and structural adjustment plans, caused poverty. It advocated "the putting in place of a global strategy of development based on democracy, good governance, decentralisation and an effective participation of the population at all levels".
In its resolution on Angola the Committee noted its concern at the persistence of the war there, at the support given by international third parties to armed bandits, in violation of UN resolutions, and at the growing humanitarian catastrophe of displaced persons and refugees, especially in border regions. The resolution supported the efforts of the United Nations Sanctions Committee, MPLA and the Angolan Government in their efforts to alleviate the worst effects of and resolve the conflict.
The Committee, in its resolution on the Democratic Republic of Congo, expressed its concern at the deteriorating situation and the continued presence of foreign troops in the country. It called on the international community to exert the necessary pressure to maintain the inter-Congolese dialogue as planned in the Lusaka Accords.
On Côte d'Ivoire the Committee called on the military regime to respect the timetable for transition to civilian rule, and expressed its support for SI member party, the Côte d'Ivoire Popular Front, FPI, in the difficult challenges of the democratic transition.
In respect of Equatorial Guinea the Committee noted its concern at the regression in the process of democratisation, at the persistent corruption and generalised misery, and at the persistent violation of human rights in the country. It condemned the dictatorial and unrepresentative nature of the ruling regime and called on the international community to exercise greater vigilance towards it. The Committee expressed "its solidarity with all the democrats of Equatorial Guinea, and in particular to the Convergence for Social Democracy, CPDS, which struggles in the most precarious conditions for the establishment of democracy and social justice in the country".
The Committee, in its resolution on Guinea, condemned the continued arbitrary detention of Alpha Condé, leader of the Guinean People's Assembly, RPG, an SI member party, in a "show-trial intended to eliminate one of the most important figures from the political life of Guinea", and demanded his release.
Finally the SI Africa Committee passed a motion of thanks to the Chair of SDF, to John Fru Ndi and to its members "for the warm and fraternal welcome extended to them, a welcome which bears witness to socialist solidarity and African fraternity".
The Socialist International Africa Committee, at its first meeting of the millennium in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on 30 June and 1 July 2000, examined the pace of the democratisation process throughout Africa, the existing conflicts and threats to peace and stability on the continent, and the ways and means to fight poverty, and declares:
1. On the Democratisation Process
Considering that although the circumstances in which the principles of democracy are applied may vary due to local realities, these principles remain universal in every case;
Considering that the wind of democratic change which started blowing at the beginning of the decade of the 90s has produced mixed results in Africa like the laudable democratic alternance in Senegal on the one hand, and the total blockage of the democratic electoral processes in countries like Cameroon, Togo, Guinea and Equatorial Guinea, for example, on the other hand.
• congratulates the people of Senegal for their political maturity and more especially the Socialist Party of Senegal for gracefully recognising and accepting democratic alternance;
• condemns in the strongest terms regimes which have done everything possible to stall the democratic process in their respective countries;
• demands of them to immediately put in place the necessary institutions and mechanisms that will ensure and guarantee the holding of free and fair elections, namely:
- a neutral body with legal and financial autonomy to ensure the transparency and credibility of the electoral process;
- the full and equal participation of all citizens of all sectors of society, including women and youth;
- equal access to the public media;
• demands the establishment of special legislation spelling out the rights and duties of the opposition;
• calls on the socialist family, especially those in government to exert maximum pressure on those African governments that are still insensitive to democratic principles and values;
• categorically rejects the idea of an African, Asian or European version of democracy if it does not conform to universal democratic principles.
2. On conflicts and Threats to Peace and Stability in Africa
Taking into account the decisions of the XXI Socialist International Congress in Paris last November;
Recalling the Dakar Report on the typology and resolution of conflicts in Africa;
Considering the blockage of the democratic electoral processes in some of the African countries, the breakdown in the social and political order in others, and extreme poverty in Africa;
• reaffirms the recommendations regarding peace and conflict resolution of the XXI Congress of the Socialist International;
• recommends the creation and the implementation of mechanisms for prevention and management of conflict;
• declares that peace is not only the absence of conflicts;
• reaffirms that democracy, good governance and social justice are necessary conditions for peace;
• calls on the Socialist International family to mobilise all its resources worldwide to help promote peace and relieve suffering in Africa.
3. On the Ways and Means to Fight Poverty
Considering that the causes of poverty vary from country to country;
that the weight of the debt burden virtually paralyses any form of development;
the need to eliminate all forms of corruption;
that current economic ties of most African countries with the developed world should not be based on a dependency relationship;
that structural adjustment plans have exacerbated poverty.
• strongly advocates the putting into place of a global strategy of development based on democracy, good governance, decentralisation and an effective participation of the population at all levels;
• strongly recommends that each country concerned should work out a specific programme of development and to fight poverty;
• considers that the present debt alleviation policy proposed by international financial institutions is falling short of expectations;
• is concerned over the basis on which some countries have been declared eligible for the debt alleviation programme;
• reaffirms that one of the major criteria for eligibility should be good governance and democracy;
• recommends that development aid should be exclusively people oriented;
• recommends the creation of an International Fund Against Poverty;
• recommends that economic ties should be based on a mutually beneficial partnership. In this respect the Cairo Summit constitutes a good beginning.
RESOLUTION ON ANGOLA
The Socialist International Africa Committee, meeting on 30 June-1 July 2000 in Yaoundé, notes with concern:
• the persistence of the war in the Republic of Angola due to the intransigence of Jonas Savimbi’s armed group in relation to the implementation of the Lusaka Protocol.
• the involvement of many countries, personalities and organisations in support of the war efforts of armed bandits, in flagrant violation of the relevant UN resolutions, as stated in the Fowler Report.
• that, as a result, the Angolan people are faced with a catastrophic humanitarian situation with close to 3.6 million people displaced or affected by the war and consequently in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
• that the non-implementation of the Lusaka Protocol stipulations creates destabilising conditions in the border regions with their share of refugee problems.
Faced with this situation, the Socialist International Africa Committee:
• supports the efforts of the UN Sanctions Committee aimed at ensuring the implementation of the resolutions on Angola, and at pursuing and sanctioning any violators.
• salutes the efforts of the MPLA and the Angolan Government in ensuring the application of the Lusaka Protocol, in re-instituting the rule of law and in destroying the weaponry of the armed bandits;
• congratulates the Angolan Government for its efforts to assist people displaced and affected by the war;
• calls on the international community to support the Angolan Government in continuing its efforts to assist the Angolan population displaced and affected by the war; and
• finally, the Africa Committee encourages all the members of the Socialist International to organise acts of solidarity with the people of Angola led by the MPLA aimed at securing the strict implementation of the UN resolutions, and the deliberations of SADC, OAU and other international organisations.
The Socialist International Africa Committee, meeting in Yaoundé on 30 June and 1 July 2000,
Expresses its concern at the deteriorating situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the Lusaka Agreements of July 10, 1999 are not respected and where foreign troops are openly fighting in some areas causing numerous casualties amongst the Congolese civilian population, jeopardising the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.
The Committee considers that the excuse given, of the need to secure borders, cannot justify the deadly fighting between Ugandan and Rwandan soldiers in Kisangani. The Committee adds its voice to that of the United Nations Security Council in demanding the immediate withdrawal of these troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo and eventually of all foreign troops.
Deploring certain manoeuvres aimed at sabotaging the inter-Congolese dialogue, the Africa Committee of the SI asks the international community to exert the necessary pressure in order that this dialogue take place quickly and develop as planned in the Lusaka Accords.
RESOLUTION ON CÔTE D’IVOIRE
The Socialist International Africa Committee, meeting in Yaoundé on 30 June and 1 July:
- condemning all military coups d’état whatever the pretext, notes the recent commitments undertaken by the new Côte d’Ivoire authorities which should be irreversible and implemented without reservation;
- calls on the military authorities to scrupulously respect the timetable for the transition which comes to an end on 30 October 2000, aimed at rapidly re-establishing normal constitutional life, which remains an absolute priority;
- warns the transitional military authorities against the risks to which they would expose Côte d’Ivoire should there be any attempt to retain power for whatever reason;
- expresses its support for the Côte d’Ivoire Popular Front, FPI, in the difficult challenges of the democratic transition.
RESOLUTION ON EQUATORIAL GUINEA
The Socialist International Africa Committee, meeting in Yaoundé on 30 June and 1 July 2000,
notes with great concern the regression in the process of democratisation in Equatorial Guinea which has in effect led to the re-establishment of a one-party system in the country;
expresses its concern over the persistent corruption and the generalised misery in the country despite the exploitation of enormous natural resources - namely petroleum, which serves to enrich only those in power and the multinationals - leading to a total marginalisation of the population in general and of the political opposition in particular;
regrets the persistent and flagrant violation of human rights by the authorities, carried out with the greatest impunity.
Consequently, the Committee:
strongly condemns the electoral process during the municipal elections last 28 May, which the ruling regime used to do away with the minimum of representation of the democratic parties in the local institutions, as well as in the parliament which is made up of 99.9% of members of the ruling party, and the dictatorial government of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo;
asks the international community to exercise great vigilance in relation to this government and to re-double political and economic pressure in order to re-start the democratisation process and to stop the counter-productive and conflictive exploitation of the national petroleum resources;
expresses its solidarity with all the democrats of Equatorial Guinea, and in particular to the Convergence for Social Democracy, CPDS, which struggles in the most precarious conditions for the establishment of democracy and social justice in the country.
RESOLUTION ON GUINEA
Considering that the Guinean parliamentarian Alpha Condé, leader of the Guinean People’s Assembly, RPG, a member party of the Socialist International, has been arbitrarily detained since 16 December 1998;
considering that the Socialist International has on different occasions called for the release of Alpha Condé;
considering his trial before the State Security Court on 12 April 2000;
The Socialist International Africa Committee:
expresses its grave concern at the unacceptable conditions under which this trial is taking place;
condemns this show-trial intended to eliminate one of the most important figures from the political life of Guinea; and
demands the release of Alpha Condé.
MOTION OF THANKS
The member parties of the Socialist International Africa Committee, meeting in Yaoundé on 30 June - 1 July 2000:
Express their sincere thanks to the Chairman of the Social Democratic Front (SDF), John Fru Ndi and to the members of the SDF, for the warm and fraternal welcome extended to them, a welcome which bears witness to socialist solidarity and African fraternity. The parties also express their deep appreciation for all the attention and hospitality shown to them during their stay in Yaoundé.
The member parties congratulate Chair John Fru Ndi and the SDF on their work in making the Committee meeting in Yaoundé a success.
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
Chair of the Committee
Ousmane Tanor Dieng
Secretary General of the SI
Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, MPLA
João Salvador Dos Santo Neto
Socialist Party, PS
Social Democratic Party, PSD
Botswana National Front, BNF
Party for Democracy and Progress, PDP
Social Democratic Front, SDF
John Fru Ndi
Seidou Maidadi Yaya
Mengue Mballa Odille
Ndiva Kofele Kale
Ivorian Popular Front, FPI
Tiéti Roch d’Assomption
Social Democratic Party
Convergence for Social Democracy, CPDS
Plácido Mico Abogo
Jesús Elá Abeme
Pablo Mba Nsang
Socialist Party, PS
Gabonese Party for Progress, PGP
Democrats of the Left, DS
African Party for Solidarity and Justice, ADEMA PASJ
Ibrahim Boubacar Keita
Touré Safiatou Touré
Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP
Amélia Matos Sumbana
Party for Democracy and Socialism of Niger, PNDS
Socialist Party of Senegal, PS
Papa Amath Dieng
African National Congress, ANC
Constitutional Democratic Assembly, RCD
Party of European Socialists, PES
Socialist International Women, SIW
Aminata Mbengue Ndiaye
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Union for Democracy and Social Progress, UDPS
Gilbert Ramazani Mulondani
If you are looking for an earlier meeting, please consult the LIBRARY section.