, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 10 – The civil society has termed the postponement of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) forum which was scheduled to be held in Nairobi this Friday as suspect.
The group led by Grant Masterson, the APRM manager at the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) questioned the motive of the organisers to reschedule the forum to January 2 next year, a day when the African Union will be meeting, saying this essentially cancelled the meeting as the agenda of the forum would be overshadowed by the meeting of the African Heads of State.
State House last week indicated that the meeting was postponed to allow other non-State actors to come on board.
“We feel that there is a lot more to the story that needs to be told. We are not satisfied with the current explanation and we are asking for more transparency in the real reasons as to why the summit is being postponed or cancelled as we have chosen to state,” Masterson said.
He further complained over moving of the venue from Nairobi to Addis Ababa, which he says is not friendly towards the civil society.
“It is extremely difficult for civil society to actively engage with our leaders in Ethiopia, the situation there is not as conducive to engagement as it is here in Nairobi. We feel that civil society’s voice will be muted should the summit go on in Addis,” he said.
Deus Kibamba from Tanzania Citizen’s information bureau said the recent developments would deprive stakeholders an opportunity to address issues undermining the spirit of African countries.
“Taking the meeting to Addis Ababa and then you tell us this is to allow for more participation by civil society and non-State actors you are kidding. Addis Ababa is more closed in terms of space for civil society engagement,” he reiterated.
They exonerated President Uhuru Kenyatta from blame over the postponement but declined to disclose whom they thought was responsible for it.
The six civil society groups acknowledged the challenges APRM was undergoing in terms of funding further calling on African countries to clear their subscription arrears to boost their function ability of the forum.
“APRM is meant to be funded by Africa itself and not donor partners. The only way we can achieve the objectives is for membership contributions to be paid because if they are not APRM is forced to look for alternative funding which dilutes the principle of African ownership,” added Masterson.
The lamented over how much various institutions which had already prepared for the meeting before the sudden cancellation had lost.
“Countries have delivered materials in Nairobi, tickets have been issued and some people have actually travelled. Some Heads of State had even confirmed attendance; which other players were they talking about?” posed Kibamba.