This article discusses the various phases the African Union Election Observation Missions (AUEOMs) have passed through since participation by the Organization of African Unity OAU in the UN-led mission to monitor Namibia’s referendum in 1989. The focus on the historical analysis includes a close examination of the approaches, methods and lessons that can be drawn from the gradual but consistent development of AUEOM methodology. Commencing with an overview of the democratic development in post-Cold War Africa, it examines the struggle to end colonialism and the participation of the continental organization in ending apartheid and occupation. The article then proceed by drawing a link between the end of colonization, occupation and apartheid and the development of instruments that form shared African values and norms in democracy, political rights and freedoms. The article then focuses on the changing nature of election observation in Africa by the OAU/AU, from a political-cum-diplomatic mission to an independent and technical mission. This leads into a critical examination of the changing framework from the short-term election observation mission to a long-term observation mission based on the electoral cycle approach.