LIBERIA: Pres. Sirleaf Chairs 20th Summit of APRM Forum

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is also Chairperson of the African Peer Review Forum, chaired the 20th Summit of the Committee of Heads of State and Government of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) on the fringes of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union on Wednesday, January 29.

According to a dispatch from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, high on the agenda were presentations of progress reports by South Africa and Mozambique on their respective National Programs of Action; on  Equatorial Guinea’s accession into the APRM; and consideration of various administrative aspects of the Mechanism.

President Sirleaf commended South Africa and Mozambique for their openness in recounting their successes and challenges, and for their progress toward achieving the continent’s shared aspirations for good governance.

She congratulated the Government and people of Equatorial Guinea for officially joining the APRM by signing the Memorandum of Understanding for accession, thereby committing the country to the APRM Process.

The Liberian leader encouraged African States that are not party to the Mechanism to join the APRM family. Equatorial Guinea is the 34th country to accede to the APRM.

The Liberian leader reflected on APRM’s progress over the decade of its existence, recounting the continent’s commemorative activities throughout 2013, including national celebrations that were organized on March 9 – the date that Member States have agreed to celebrate “APRM Day” annually.

As Chair of the APR Forum, President Sirleaf announced the nomination, for consideration and appointment, of Ambassador Fatuma Nyirakobwa Ndangiza of Rwanda and Ambassador Ashraf Rashed of Egypt as the new Chairperson and Vice Chairperson, respectively, of the APR Panel of Eminent Persons.

Ambassador Ndangiza succeeds the outgoing Chairperson of the APR Panel, Barrister Akere Tabeng Muna, who served as a Panel Member from 2003 to January 2014. She was first appointed as member of the APR Panel of Eminent Persons at the 16th Summit of the APR Forum in January 2012. The new Vice-Chair, Ambassador Rashed, was also appointed to the APR Panel at the same time.

As APR Forum Chair, President Sirleaf recommended the appointment of three distinguished Africans as new Panel Members to replace Barrister Muna (Cameroon), Barrister Jullienne Onziel Gnelenga (Congo Brazzaville) and Dr. Amos C. Sawyer (Liberia) whose four-year tenure as Panel Members expires this month. Those recommended are: H.E. Edem Kojo (Togo),

Professor Abo Mengeuel (Sudan), and Mr. Mahamoud Yossouf Khayal (Chad).

Thanking the outgoing Panelists, President Sirleaf said, “You have each played an invaluable role in the progress of APRM, and I look forward to your continued support to this proud Pan-African initiative.”

She pointed out that in the last ten years, the APRM has proven to be an important tool for detecting possible fault lines in the continent’s national governance systems; has shown its strength as an early warning mechanism for emerging issues and potential crisis in some countries reviewed; and has equally provided an opportunity to showcase the best practices in some countries on the continent.

The Liberian leader maintained that Africa’s success in achieving the standards set for good governance is heavily dependent on its ability to ensure self-governance and respect for the rules, protocols and structure that constitute the Mechanism.

She cautioned that it is important to strengthen the lines of communication between the bodies that make up the APRM, to ensure that informed and prudent administrative decisions are made by those vested with the proper authority to make them. “This includes the implementation of the

Mechanism structure which was approved by the Forum in May 2013,” she said.

She called for the vetting of staff of the APRM Secretariat with swiftness and urgency, stressing that it must be done transparently and fairly. She thanked South Africa for agreeing to undertake the hiring of a firm to facilitate the recruitment process.

She recommended that the APRM Forum be made a permanent part of the African Union system, and urged the Committee of Heads of State of the Forum to support and protect the continent’s mechanism in fulfilling its mandate for the benefit of Africa.

Speaking earlier, the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Chairperson of the Assembly of the African Union, H. E. Hailemariam Desalegn, expressed gratitude to President Sirleaf for the exemplary leadership of the APRM Forum.  
“The Forum”, he said, “is the means by which the continent can say no to undue interference from outside forces; when the continent knows exactly what to do to ensure security, good governance, development and democratic rule.” He hoped that more countries would accede to the APRM Process.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, recognized the APRM Forum as the continent’s self-monitoring mechanism that must be supported by all of its leaders. She reminded them that the APRM Forum was created in 2003 to help promote good governance and economic change, and insisted that the APRM represents an early warning system for potential problems in Member States.

The APRM, an initiative of the African Union that was established in March 2003 by the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), is an instrument for monitoring performance in governance among Member States, and provides support for the improvement of such performance. Thirty-four AU Member States, including Liberia, have voluntarily acceded to the Mechanism. Seventeen countries that have completed their self-assessment have been peer-reviewed by the Forum of Heads of State and Government.

Also on Wednesday, January 29, President Sirleaf held talks with the following persons: Mr. Jan Eliasson, the Deputy United Nations Secretary-General; Mrs. Zainab Hawa Bangura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict; Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, the Assistant Secretary-General for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Dr. Fatoumata Naf-Taore, Executive Director of Roll Back Malaria; Dr. Joy Phumaphi, of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA); and Dr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank. President Sirleaf also participated in the 29th Summit of NEPAD as a Special Guest.

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