Africa must develop strong democratic institutions – Gilmour


Washington DC, May 30, GNA – Mr. David Gilmour Deputy Assistant Secretary of the United State Department, Bureau of African Affairs, has declared that America would impose visa sanctions on African leaders and individuals who participated in violence against their civilian population.

Mr Gilmour made the declaration when he briefed journalists from 10 African countries currently on a tour to the US on America’s policy towards Africa.

The tour, organized by the Washington Press Centre and sponsored by the United States Department is under the theme: ‘African Journalist Security and Press Freedom,” and targets media from African countries which will be having national elections this year and 2016.

The tour aims at giving the media practitioners the opportunity to explore issues around press freedom and security of journalists.

It also focuses on how journalists can protect themselves, their sources and data, while reporting on elections in dangerous environments.

They are being taken through topics such as government transparency, facts checking and meeting with state department and white house officials, and are offered the opportunity to cover the roll out of Freedom houses, freedom from reporters without borders, committee to protect journalists and human rights watch.

Mr Gilmour said US was monitoring Africa situations closely, especially in Burundi, and pointed out that violence had no place in democratic elections.

He emphasized that African needed strong institutions, independent and free press for a democratic society and economic growth.

Mr. Gilmour entreated African leaders to be responsible within government systems, and not to stay in power for longer periods, but try to give chance for a change of government from time to time, since African needed new ideals for healthy democracy.

He called for peaceful elections in African countries, and urged leaders on the continent to refrain from violence and intimidation.

He urged African leaders to listen to the voices of all people, including the minority, women and the youth, in order to develop strong democratic systems.

Mr. Gilmour observed that public engagement in polls indicated that they no longer believed in one-party states, but supported democratic systems, adding that was the more reason of lots of demonstrations all over the streets of African countries.

He commended the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan for handing over power peacefully, adding that about 78 percent of Africa’s population now believed in democratic systems and change in governments.

Mr. Gilmour appealed to African leaders not to change the constitutions for the benefit of the incumbents, but rather strive for better systems and institutions, to protect the constitutions for strong democracies.

From Regina Benneh, GNA Special Correspondent in Washington, DC


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