Renewed Push for Democracy in West Africa: ECOWAS Meeting in Nigeria

In a renewed effort to uphold democracy in coup-affected West Africa, leaders from the region gathered in Nigeria for a crucial meeting. Acknowledging limited success in stemming coup attempts, the 15-nation regional bloc, ECOWAS, has faced challenges in restoring political stability. Since 2020, West and Central Africa have witnessed eight military takeovers, including those in Niger and Gabon. Recent political crises in Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau have also been described as attempted coups.

Despite ECOWAS sanctions, the Niger junta has strengthened its hold on power. Mali and Burkina Faso have halted collaboration with the bloc on transitioning to civilian rule. ECOWAS President Omar Alieu Touray expressed concern about the stagnation in the agreed transition timetable.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, the bloc’s current leader, emphasized the commitment to opposing unconstitutional changes of government in Niger. He condemned distractions and reaffirmed the pursuit of democracy, stating, “Democracy must win if we fight for it, and we will fight for democracy.”

Under Tinubu’s leadership, ECOWAS imposed stringent travel and economic sanctions on Niger after the July coup. However, analysts suggest the sanctions have emboldened them instead of deterring the junta. Niger’s junta, facing international pressure, established a transitional government and sought legitimacy through alliances with Burkina Faso, Mali, and a military partnership with Russia.

The junta in Niger, undeterred by sanctions, has kept deposed President Mohamed Bazoum under house arrest. Analysts believe the sanctions backfired, as the juntas centralized control and united against ECOWAS and Western backers.

As the ECOWAS meeting commenced, the Niger junta, via X (formerly Twitter), asserted its unwavering stance without mentioning the event. The junta stated, “We won’t back down. We will not compromise. We will not betray, and we will overcome.”

Notably, officials from Bazoum’s deposed government attended the Abuja meeting. Despite referring to the events in Niger as an “attempted coup,” ECOWAS remains engaged in addressing the situation.

Tinubu urged West African leaders to meet citizens’ expectations amid challenges such as democratic consolidation, economic difficulties, climate change, exchange crises, and food insecurity. He emphasized that delivering good governance is not only a fundamental commitment but also essential for addressing citizens’ concerns.

Trendy Africa Communications NG by Simha Asuquo

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