- During a NEPAD summit on Saturday in Kigali (Rwanda), four African countries volunteered to be reviewed on good governance, democratic standards and economic policy. Rwanda, Ghana, Kenya and Mauritius are to be the first countries to be scrutinised by the African Peer Review Mechanism.
Several Heads of State, including Ghana's President John Kufuor and South Africa's Thabo Mbeki were at the Kigali summit, hosted by Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Here, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) formally launched its much expected "African Peer Review Mechanism".
The NEPAD peer review is seen as a vital part of the African economic recovery plan. Sixteen African governments already have signed up to the review mechanism, which is to assess whether they are following NEPAD aims of good governance, economic reform and democracy.
An expert panel of prominent Africans is to review the sixteen countries' governance performance. NEPAD officials in Kigali said the four countries to be assessed first would now be reviewed simultaneously.
Rwanda, Ghana, Kenya and Mauritius had been chosen because they indicated they were most ready to receive the review officials, according to NEPAD sources in Kigali. Francis Appiah, representative of the Ghanaian government at the Kigali summit, however indicated that Ghana was likely to be "the first African country to be subjected to the Peer Review," due to thorough preparations made by the Accra government.
The sixteen countries that have indicated their willingness to be reviewed by the Mechanism are Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Mauritius, Ethiopia, South Africa, Rwanda, Mozambique, Algeria, Senegal, Cameroon, Congo Kinshasa (DRC), Gabon, Mali and Burkina Faso.
There are great expectations to the peer reviews, especially among human rights groups, which hope that inter-African pressure on improved democracy and rights will be enhanced. The first reports by the Mechanism will give a good indication to whether blameworthy situations really will be raised by the expert panel.
Critics however already say that the peer review mechanism will do little to improve governance democracy. If a country is deemed to be failing to reach NEPAD standards, there is no existing sanctions regime to pressure its government into reform.
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