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We’re poised to reclaim our seat as a beacon of democracy in Africa — ECOWAS

ECOWAS Ebenezer Asiedu, Head of Democracy and Good Governance at ECOWAS, speaking on behalf of ECOWAS Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah
NOV 29, 2023 LISTEN
Ebenezer Asiedu, Head of Democracy and Good Governance at ECOWAS, speaking on behalf of ECOWAS Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah

Amid numerous democratic backsliding events in the form of constitutional overthrows and coups in the West African subregion, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has said it is committed to strengthening democratic systems across the region.

Between 2020 and 2023, the African continent experienced nine military seizures of power - including two counter-coups.

Six of these coups took place in West Africa, in Mali (2020, 2021), Guinea (2021), Burkina Faso (January and September 2022) and Niger (July 2023).

There were also attempted coups in Niger in March 2021, The Gambia in December 2021, Guinea Bissau in February 2022, and recently in Sierra Leone on November 26, 2023.

Speaking at the West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network's (WADEMOS) annual convening on November 29 in Accra, Ghana, ECOWAS Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah, in a speech read on his behalf, said the region's record has brought unnecessary negative attention, with West Africa sometimes referred to as "the coup region."

However, he noted signs of improved democratic governance.

"From Guinea Bissau's elections to Liberia's historic transfer of power, the region is showing it can strengthen democracy," he stated.

The ECOWAS Political Affairs Commissioner revealed that the regional bloc is also working with partners to resolve Sierra Leone's electoral issues through dialogue.

"Our response reinforced democracy following unconstitutional changes," Dr. Musah added.

While more work remains, recent successes, he asserted, show democratic progress is possible with coordinated efforts.

CSO engagement will be crucial to deter future crises and ensure stable transitions, according to the Commissioner.

With solidarity and reform, West Africa can regain its mantle as a beacon of democracy, he concluded.

The 2023 Annual Convening of Network Members aims to bring together members to acknowledge the progress made in addressing democracy backsliding in West Africa, identify relevant obstacles and challenges pertaining to democratic issues in the region to inform future collective action, discuss the 2024 outlook and landscape for democracy in West Africa, and reflect on the role of WADEMOS and its Secretariat in effectively countering the concerning trend of democracy backsliding across West Africa going forward.

Themed “Amplifying CSOs’ Response to Democratic Recession in West Africa”, the convening also seeks to provide an avenue for discussion on new approaches, perspectives, and strategies in response to democracy backsliding, with the goals of assessing collective efforts so far, addressing ongoing issues and barriers, planning further cooperation, and evaluating the roles of WADEMOS and its Secretariat in strengthening democracy in West Africa.

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Isaac Donkor Distinguished
Isaac Donkor Distinguished

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