Zambia’s draft constitution, released April 30 by the Technical Committee on Drafting the Zambian Constitution, is a notable improvement over the previous document and represents a significant opportunity to make a positive impact on democratic governance in the country. Freedom House urges the Zambian government, led by President Michael Sata, to uphold its commitment to the drafting process by adequately funding provincial and national public consultations and by establishing a clear timeline for the referendum.
Senior Director for Program Strategy, Development and Learning
February 3, 2012
The progress that sub-Saharan Africa has achieved in building democracy over the past generation is coming undone. After two decades of significant gains, the continent has experienced a steady decline in democracy over the last several years.
The victory of opposition Patriotic Front leader Michael Sata in Zambia’s September presidential election was a welcome example of an almost entirely peaceful rotation of power in a maturing African electoral democracy. President Sata can now carry Zambia further into a position of continental leadership by quickly making good on three campaign promises: revising Zambia’s draft constitution to better protect basic freedoms, fighting corruption, and properly protecting the rights of all Zambian workers, especially those employed in the growing number of Chinese-owned mines and related industries.
In a vote that was widely considered free and fair, Zambians elected Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front (PF) as its newest president on September 22, garnering 43 percent of the vote and displacing current president Rupiah Banda of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). The MMD has effectively ruled the country since multi-party elections were first permitted in 1991. Opposition parties have been free to operate since 2001, following ten additional years of de facto one party rule. While opposition candidates have experienced occasional harassment, electoral violence, and disruption of rallies, they have nonetheless mounted increasingly successful nationwide campaigns, none more evident than this year, with the PF sweeping to power in both the parliament and executive office.
A majority of Americans see democracy in the U.S. as weak and getting weaker, according to a national survey released by The Democracy Project, a joint initiative of Freedom House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
On May 21, 2008, the UN General Assembly will elect 15 new Human Rights Council members. Twenty countries are candidates. Freedom House and UN Watch evaluated each candidate’s suitability for election to the Human Rights Council by examining its record of human rights protection at home and its record of human rights promotion at the UN.
Freedom House released an analysis of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa showing that the region has experienced notable increases in freedom over the past generation, although more setbacks than gains were seen in 2006.
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