… says frustration of the people causing military takeovers
By Chukwuma Umeorah
The Alliance for Deepening Democracy (A4DD) has called on leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to take urgent measures to address challenges to democracy principles and good governance in the region in order to stem the scourge of military takeover now afflicting some of its member countries.
The Alliance through a statement issued in Abuja, Monday strongly condemned the July 28, 2023 coup in which President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger Republic was removed from power in a military takeover but 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 in the region.
Noting that the coup in Niger was the seventh attempt and fourth successful military takeover of power in West Africa since 2020, the Alliance said that “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 is now referred to as “the coup belt of Africa.
“Although some of the coups are greeted with jubilations on the streets of the different countries, the reactions were not necessarily informed by the people’s love for military regimes but 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 added.
It 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, manipulation of electoral processes leading to the emergence of governments with dubious legitimacy, widespread violation of human rights, the high level of corruption, lack of independence of the Judiciary, among others.
The Deputy Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the Alliance, Faith Waziri, who is also the Communications Officer of the Women in Politics Forum, while expressing her concerns 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.”
According to her, 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.
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.
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