No difference between election riggers and coup plotters — ECOWAS Group

A group, ECOWAS Community Citizens, has said that the military takeover of Niger Republic is condemnable from all ramifications but warns against sanctions that will hurt innocent citizens.


The group made the call on Thursday during a briefing held in Abuja, with theme: ‘Term Limit and the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance,’ The WHISTLER reports.


The briefing was attended by Dr Ken Ukaoha, National Association of Nigeria Traders President, Nigeria; Prof Jibrin Ibrahim of the Centre for Development and Advocacy; Alioune Tine, Foundateur Afrikajom Centre; Isatou Ceesay, HOT The Gambia and David Dosseh, Tournons La Page, Togo.


The Group said the continuous coup in the West African region sets it back and truncates development.


On Wednesday the West African region woke up with the shock that the Niger Republic President Mohamed Bazoum was held by troops from the presidential guard.


Soldiers in Niger on Thursday officially announced a coup on national TV.


In recent years, neighbouring countries such as Mali and Burkina Faso, have experienced coups.


The ECOWAS Group “condemned” the development in the region tagging it a “regression.”


They however identified the pretexts to which coup plotters justify their actions.


The regional group said insecurity, corruption, poverty and socio-political crisis are some of the reasons that influence coups in the region.


According to the ECOWAS Group, coups are not limited to the military. They listed constitutional coups where democratic leaders elongate their tenure and electoral coup which allows leaders to rig elections as other forms of coup against the state.


The Group highlighted how Togo president is exercising his 4th term in office, Cote d’ Ivoire’s president is in his 3rd term while the Senegalese president tactically withdrew after pressure.


The group said, “We have seen ECOWAS react swiftly to coups in Mali, Guinea Burkina Faso. While analysts agree that it excels at reacting and imposing swift sanctions on coup regimes, all also recognise its inability to provide answers to constitutional and electoral coups.


They suggested that the solution to coups lies in the reform of the ECOWAS Protocol that limits the tenure of presidents not exceeding two terms.


The Group added, “The institutionalisation of term limits at the supranational level can counter the pre-eminence of the executive and support the rebalancing of powers for the consolidation of the rule of law.


“We therefore make a solemn appeal to the entire West African Community to make the core of vision 2050 a reality and to have a fully integrated community of people in a peaceful, prosperous region with strong institutions that respect fundamental freedoms.


“We further call for reforms of the additional protocol before the end of 2023 and that the two-term limit be irrefutably an integral provision and a key and intangible principle of governance in order to restore and consolidate democracy in West Africa.”


Reacting to the Niger Republic coup, Ukaoha said it was shocking to see a fresh coup in the region.


He said the coup will draw “us back in terms of growth, in terms of political stability, in terms of employment creation and poverty reduction in our region and therefore we stand against any coup in the region and most importantly, what has happended in the Republic of Niger.


“I call on our leaders in the region to be very careful because we have one method of sanction and the sanction mechanism must be very clear enough so that we are not also biting the people.


“Placing a sanction on a country and the poor masses that know nothing about what is happening will be the ones bearing the brunt of the economic sanctions. We solidiarise with ECOWAS calling on the president of Nigeria (Bola Tinubu) to find ways of deleting coup and coup d’ etat rather than meting sanctions on the poor that never knew about the coup.”


Prof Ibrahim also allay fears that if not properly handled, the wave may escalate to other countries.


In what he described as ‘democratic regression’, the CDD Boss said the region is becoming violated by the military.


Ibrahim said, “We feel that this is something very concerning for us as a West African region. We believe very strongly that citizens of West Africa and our government needs to mount the barricades again to make a clear statement that never again will we as a people accept recurrent coup d’ etat.”


In his remark, Alioune Tine said, “(We) have concerns on how ECOWAS implements sanctions regime. A lot of the sanctions have harmed the people much more than the government that started it and it is therefore fair and important that sanctions are used in an intelligent manner so that it is the regime that suffers rather than the people.


“It is also important to consider the fact that some West African leaders lack legitimacy. They lack legitimacy because some of them rig the elections that brought them into power, and some of them have changed constitutions wrongly to give themselves a third term in power.


“When leaders who are illegitimate try to impose sanctions on others, then it doesn’t work because people will also question their legitimacy.”


Ceesay in her reaction condemned the coup and called for urgent response by regional heads.


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