Alliance calls on ECOWAS leaders to address failure democracy in sub-region

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Abuja, Aug. 7, 2022 – The Alliance for Deepening Democracy (A4DD) has called on ECOWAS leaders to address challenges to democracy principles and good governance in the region.

This step, it said, would help to stem the scourge of unconstitutional takeover of governments now afflicting some of its member countries.

The Alliance said in a statement in Abuja on Monday that the alliance strongly condemned the July 28, 2023 coup in which President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger Republic was ousted by a military takeover.

It noted that the failure of leaders in many ECOWAS member states to adhere to the universally accepted norms of democratic practice and good governance principles had become a ready justification for insurgents and coup plotters to undermine democratic governance, peace and stability of the region.

The Alliance identified some of the challenges to good governance in West Africa as the failure of some leaders to respect constitutional term limits in their countries, the manipulation of electoral processes leading to the emergence of governments with dubious legitimacy from such flawed elections and widespread violation of human rights and constriction of civic space in many countries.

It identified other factors as the high level of corruption, lack of independence of the Judiciary, and the inability of governments to deliver basic public services to their citizens in countries across the region.

The alliance said the coup in Niger was the seventh coup attempt and fourth successful military takeover of power in West Africa since 2020.

It said  it was deeply concerned that a region that was once celebrated as demonstrating the strongest political will and leadership in advancing democratic governance, peace and stability was now referred to as “the coup belt of Africa”.

The alliance said although some of the coups are greeted with jubilations on the streets of the different countries, but the reactions were not necessarily informed by the people’s love for military regimes but are frequently motivated by a growing frustration among the people about democratic governance, especially the failure of leaders to meet the collective and individual aspirations of their citizens.

It said ECOWAS leaders had a duty to ensure good governance and adherence to sound democratic principles and practices.

It also  contended that since they had always cited the violation of the region’s Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance as the basis for their zero tolerance for military takeover of governments, it is imperative that they also abide by a key feature of the Protocol, which is the common and universal norms on democratic governance expected of member states through “constitutional convergence”.

The Alliance argued that the failure of ECOWAS leaders to address other challenges to good governance and democracy while seeking to take decisive action against coups would only reinforce the impression that they are only interested in ensuring their continued stay in office and have no real desire to promote universally accepted democratic norms and good governance.

The Deputy Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the Alliance, Ms Faith Waziri, who is also the Communications Officer of the Women in Politics Forum, said: “Sadly, experience from the past in some of the West African countries under military leadership has demonstrated that the military is no different to the political class they often claim to liberate the people from.

“Thus, if this dangerous precedent is not curtailed immediately, we are concerned that it may become an uncontrolled trend in the region, putting the freedom of the people at risk.”

 “While we commend the region’s zero tolerance for military takeover, the conspicuous silence of ECOWAS leaders in the face of violations of the constitutional convergence principles as outlined in the Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Governance has raised legitimacy concerns and doubts over the sincerity of ECOWAS in championing democracy and good governance in the region.” (GBN)

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