Meeting of the Socialist International Africa Committee, Yaoundé, Cameroon

30 June-01 July 2000

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".

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".