How to end military coups in Africa? West African leaders speak

Several West African leaders, including Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan have offered solutions to military coups in Africa.

They offered their solutions on Monday, March 28, at a two-day event organized by the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa as part of ongoing efforts on the African continent to contain threats to democracy in the region. .

Other West African leaders on the program included a former vice president of The Gambia, Fatoumata Tambajanb, and the former president of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma.

In his remarks at the opening session, Olusegun Obasanjo said that in recent years West Africa has seen a resurgence of coups, electoral fraud and political violence.

He argued that these realities had resulted in instability and a threat to the development momentum that the sub-region had gained over the past two decades.

Obasanjo said the state of democracy in West Africa and indeed in Africa needed urgent attention.

“I feel very sad and it worries me a lot to see the democratic system that we have painstakingly built collapsing.

“And I believe there has to be a solution because the problem is human and all human problems can be solved by human beings.

“That is why the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa, under my chairmanship, has brought us all together today.

“It is about discussing relevant issues affecting governance in West Africa, including challenges, and then looking for the way forward,” he said.

The former president also underlined the need for peaceful democracy respecting the will of the people to create opportunities for new ideas, innovations, entrepreneurship and development in the region.

“Achieving this goal may not be easy, but it is essential if we want our nations to progress.

“It has to be about responsible management of diversity that makes everyone feel like they belong and are part of the whole.

“Peaceful coexistence has been a hallmark of Africans even before the emergence of the colonial era and we cannot accept anything less in this modern age,” he said.

Obasanjo also stressed the importance of a stable environment for the sustainable growth of West African economies.

Also, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who is the keynote speaker, called for a united effort against the recession of democratic values ​​in Africa.

Osinbajo spoke on the theme: “Meeting the challenge of consolidating democratic governance”.

He said the militarization of civil societies, whether by local military regimes or rival foreign military powers, could only set the continent back decades.

“Our commitment to democratization must be based on the aspirations of our people and not on the whims of foreign powers.

“The recent series of military coups across our continent and attempted military coups not only heighten the risk of a damaging democratic recession.

“But it also takes us back to the cycles of extra-constitutional disruption that plagued us decades ago.

“Since 2017, there have been 12 military coups in Africa and half of them have taken place since 2020.

“Two months ago the democratically elected government of Burkina Faso was overthrown, while only in February there was an attempted coup in Guinea-Bissau, which was fortunately repealed.

“This is clear; we know that we cannot secure the Africa we want by rolling back the hands of the democratic clock.

“We have already traveled these thorny roads with many decades of bitter experience,” he said.

According to him, a clear lesson of our history is that despotism cannot guarantee the security and prosperity of our people.

“However dire our situation, we now have concrete evidence that resorting to extra-constitutional regimes is not the way to go.

“These attacks on constitutional governance should be given more thought.

“When social and economic rights are not guaranteed, people are unable to fully maximize their civil and political rights,” the vice president said.

Osinbajo commended the Economic Community of West African States for its tough action against recent coups in the sub-region.

“The immediate imposition of sanctions on extra-constitutional regimes by ECOWAS and the African Union agreement not only demonstrates our unity of purpose on these issues, but is also an unequivocal affirmation of pan-African consensus on democratic standards,” he said.

Osinbajo stressed that the body must refrain from “lukewarm approaches” towards elected governments that do not act in a manner consistent with democratic values.

“We have developed a fairly robust and sophisticated punitive framework to respond to extra-constitutional political interventions.

“However, we have not been able to formulate such a sophisticated framework to deal with the offenses of elected governments that do not follow democratic best practices.

“If this concern is not addressed, it will reinforce the perception that regional groupings, such as ECOWAS, are nothing more than elite clubs of powerful leaders who only wish to retain their own privileges,” he concluded.

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