Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, a Special Envoy of ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments to Guinea, Conakry, has said no ECOWAS member is 'fully democratic' with reference to a recent democracy index ranking.
The Global Freedom Index, released by the Economic Intelligence Unit in October, however, classified Ghana and Cape Verde as the only countries, which were a bit closer to democracy and described Senegal, Liberia, Benin, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire as having 'hybrid regimes'.
Dr Chambas shared the index at a civil society organisations' meeting, organised by the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding in Accra, to review the state of democracy and governance in the ECOWAS region.
The Unit also classified Mali, Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Guinea Bissau as 'Authoritarian regimes'.
The index was based on electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation, and political culture.
Dr Chambas said in contrast to its 2019 democracy index, Mali and Burkina Faso were classified as hybrid regimes.
The implication was that the region was doing poorly in respect of its democratic values, as the trend of the indices looked downward, he said.
West Africa has been marked recently by processes leading to manipulation of constitutions to extend term limits, instrumentalisation of justice, and electoral systems that hampered participation of potential candidates and voters.
Others were electoral management bodies not being sufficiently independent, excessive abuse of incumbency, state capture and monetisation of politics.
Touching on the clampdown on civil liberties, which posed threats to stability, Dr Chambas condemned the malicious arrests and detention of citizens who dissented with states powers and authorities, the loss of lives and property during civil protestations and elections in most member states.
Dr Chambas, also a former UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, expressed optimism that the consultative workshop would serve as an opportunity for all participants to reinvigorate their energies to put pressure on their governments to ensure the consolidation of their democracies.
Mr Tom Norring, the Denmark Ambassador to Ghana, said the growing instability in many parts of the world, including Africa, was a source of worry.
“We need to resolve the crisis and violent conflicts in our system of governance to strengthen democracy, peace and stability,” he said.
He condemned the increasing intolerance, use of hate speech, and authoritarianism, among others, in the Sub-region, saying they had a crippling effect on democracy.
“The need to sustain peace and democracy is more imperative now than ever as the world deals with the effects of COVID-19,” he said.
Hajia Salamatu Suleiman, the Vice Chair, WANEP Regional Board, urged heads of the member states to put measures in place to unearth the talents of the youth and help them to develop them for the benefit of the Continent and world at large.
Mr Baba Gana Wakil, the Resident Representative of ECOWAS to Ghana, entreated participants to focus on the short and long term issues of governance like unemployment and the youth that affected democracy and suggest possible solutions to them.
He said ECOWAS would possibly launch its Niger Republic Centre before 2022 to serve as another centre to house member-states in decision making processes to address issues of good governance.