ECOWAS has made strides despite recent coups - ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has made significant strides in democracy in recent decades, despite recent setbacks caused by military coups in some member states, according to Ambassador Dr Abdel-Fatau Musah, the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace & Security.
Dr Musah spoke at the deployment ceremony for 80 Short Term Elections Observers (STOs) in Liberia ahead of the country's presidential and legislative elections on October 10. He noted that ECOWAS countries have been engaging in democracy for only one generation, 30 years, unlike some countries that have been practising it for centuries.
"ECOWAS has made a strong case that despite recent setbacks by some military officers truncating democratic processes in some of its member states, the regional bloc has made some significant strides," Dr Musah said. "With the advent of the current liberal democracy in the last few decades, there have been several alternations of power in the region, which is a measure of progress."
Dr Musah urged those who are sceptical about West Africa's democratic journey to remember that democracy is not an event.
"For centuries countries including the US, the UK have been experimenting with liberal democracy and cited the instance of former President Donald Trump’s challenge of the 2020 polls results," he said.
Dr Musah also noted that currently in Africa and West Africa in particular, there are many former heads of states walking about freely because they finished their terms and handed over power through peaceful democratic process.
"Hitherto, one could former heads of states were seen or heard of only in prisons, dead or chased away into exile and that these and many other developments were a measure of democracy that we have made," he said.
Dr Musah encouraged Liberians to have faith in their democratic process, acknowledging that there would be challenges and that there was still a lot to do to achieve economic development and other benefits of democracy.
"Democracy should not be reduced to holding elections periodically and that there must be the development dividend from and that was what ECOWAS was about in its economic integration process," he said.
On October 10, Liberians will vote to elect a president and 73 members of the House of Representatives. Twenty candidates are running for president, including incumbent President George Weah.