Former President Ernest Bai Koroma has urged West African leaders, policy makers, civil society, and diplomats to accelerate ongoing efforts in stemming the re-emergence of coups and the eroding of democratic good governance in the sub-region. President Koroma was speaking Wednesday morning at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria, where the West African Elders Forum (WAEF) was meeting to explore effective responses to emerging socio-political trends in West Africa.
With three out of five successful coups during the last two years, Sierra Leone’s statesman believes that it was high time leaders assessed the challenges as well as the fundamental governance or institutional factors responsible for the new wave of instability in the sub-region.
“We need to take action before things get out of hands” he maintained, even as he acknowledged the important role entities like ECOWAS and the African Union continue to play in addressing these challenges.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) Foundation, Ann Iyonu said the main objective of the meeting was to look at the security situation which has been precipitated by the economic effects of the COVID – 19 pandemic and the attempts of some leaders to hold on to power – a situation that has invariably fueled military coups in West Africa.
In his opening statement, former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan informed the audience that the WAEF was established by ‘like – minded’ African statesmen and women who have enviable track records on peace building, democracy and mediation. President Jonathan emphasized the fact that sub- regional bodies like ECOWAS would have to be complemented by leaders who have the experience and foresight to “drill down on certain burning issues”.
In apparent reference to their exemplary mediation efforts within the ECOWAS, former prime minister of Burkina Faso who also served as President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, commended former President Ernest Bai Koroma and former President Goodluck Jonathan for “the great work they have done in supporting peace and democracy in the continent”. Ouédraogo avers; “ECOWAS should be more visible to fight against crises and improve the credibility of ECOWAS. Coming in after a coup with sanctions and demands for reinstatement of deposed leaders doesn’t help ECOWA’s status in the eyes of the citizens”
Representing the President of the ECOWAS Commission, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Gen. (Rtd) Francis Behanzi also expressed deep concern over the re- emergence of military rule in West Africa and said steps are being taken by ECOWAS to review its mechanisms including its early warning system. He said the military has no business in politics and governance other than maintaining peace and security.
Representatives from the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWAS), the European Union (EU) and the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ) also spoke at the event and shared similar sentiments.