ECOWAS should scuttle lingering trend of coups in Africa’s Western Region beyond sanction

The political unease in the past eighteen months in the West African region has generated significant concern about the lingering coup de tats which has not only disrupted civil governments but the lives of citizens.

One thing that is common with these coups is soldiers in the countries concerned capitalising on popular discontent with corrupt and ineffective governance to justify their actions. In Burkina Faso and Mali, for instance, their actions have been welcomed as citizens from some sections of the population were seen jubilating on major roads waving flags and leaf branches in solidarity.

In all of these cases, there have been visible warning signals that have either been lightly handled or ignored by authorities. Prior to the coup in Mali for instance as in others, there have been pockets of protest against bad government and dire insecurity particularly in the outskirt of Bamako.

The recent coup Tuesday in Guinea-Bissau described by President Umaro Cissoko Embaló as an attempt after being under heavy gunfire for five hours near the government buildings where the president was attending a cabinet meeting is one out of earlier military takeovers in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Guinea.

Democracy is not a state. It is an act that works well with consensus and cooperation meaning different interests, voices(concordant or discordant) et cetera ought to co-habit and progress on the agreed trajectory. In a multi-ethnic and religious society like countries in the region, citizens should be involved, participate and feel the impact of government. The scenario in these countries are aberrations including though not limited to exclusion and denying the people of benefiting from the dividend of democratic governance.

A common denominator of the causes for the coups is bad governance, electoral issues, economic module, and exclusion of ethnic nationalities. These inappropriate cultures can only be countered by Fairplay, equity, and justice.

Dwelling on one of the minuses, the electoral process leading up to the declaration of winners is often highly compromised in these countries resulting in bad blood that generates tension among the contending parties. And even when electoral tribunal courts are in place to handle electoral matters, incumbents manipulate them to rule in their favour. A case in point is Guinea Bissau President Embaló election victory in the December 2019 presidential election where he faced a last-minute stand-off aside from others, with parliament before taking office in February 2020.

There is a huge rush by ECOWAS to initiate a truce but without addressing the underlying fundamental issues that triggered the coup in the first place. This indeed is the reason for the reoccurrences and seeming trending of coup de tats in the region.

LENS’s Newspapers position is that given the strategic importance of the regional bloc ECOWAS in deterring more occurrences, aside from returning these countries to civil rule, the group should tweak its tactics as the impact of the already imposed sanctions is modest, referencing the Mali defiance.

ECOWAS should deploy multiple tactics kinetic and non-kinetic, rather than relying solely on commercial war given the visible shortcoming recorded. Some have suggested bringing back the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) which was a West African multilateral armed force established by the sub-regional body. ECOMOG was a formal arrangement for separate armies in the region to work together.

While LEN Newspapers agrees that all options should be on the table, the engagement of troops should be to counter insurgents operating in these domains, not overrun the usurp force in these countries.

ECOWAS should up the ante by playing a more dominant role in ensuring that member countries practice good governance. The bloc should devise functional means beyond monitoring elections, to settle electoral disputes as well as have a standing military force, not ad hoc, to serve as the first line of defence against insurgents in the West African region.

%d bloggers like this: