Reasons for coups untenable, West Africa has made strides in democracy - ECOWAS Commissioner
The ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace & Security, Ambassador Dr Abdel-Fatau Musah, has stated that the reasons advanced by some military juntas in West Africa, such as bad and deficit governance that have not delivered, are false because democracy is not an event but a process.
He said that some people argue that democracy is not working in Africa, but that this is a false dichotomy.
"We will want to tell those sceptics that democracy is not an event, it is a process," he said. "There are countries that for centuries continue to experiment with liberal democracy, including the US, the UK and others. Even as we speak, Donald Trump has still not accepted the 2020 election results in America. These are countries that have been there for centuries and been experimenting with it."
Dr Musah made these remarks when ECOWAS deployed 80 Short Term Election Observers (STOs) for the October 10 elections in Liberia. Already, ECOWAS has deployed 15 Long Term Observers (LTOs) who have been in the country for about a month. They comprised experts in field of election administration, gender and civil society, constitutional law, security, and the media.
The membership of the 80 is made up of the ECOWAS Council of the Wise, ECOWAS Parliament, and Community Court of Justice, member States’ foreign ministries, electoral management bodies, as well as civil society organisations. None of them is a Liberian.
Dr Musah said those looking at democracy in West Africa were doing so as a glass that was half empty, but urged them to also bear in mind that the liberal democracy in Africa was barely 30 years old, just one generation.
"Before the 1990s there was no incumbent government in Africa and West Africa in particular who could be removed from power through the ballot box. Almost all countries were ruled by authoritarian regimes," he added.
Dr Musah added that with the advent of the current liberal democracy, there have been several alternations of power in the region, which is a measure of progress.
"Today in Africa and West Africa in particular, there are many former heads of states walking about freely. Before now the former heads of states were either in prison, cemetery or in exile. That is also a measure of democracy that we have made. Not everything can be solved in one generation."
He said that was why Liberians must be encouraged to have faith in the democratic process they are having, noting that there were challenges and there were still a lot to do to achieve economic development and others that come with the electoral process.
"That our democracy should not be reduced to holding elections periodically and that there must be the development dividend of democracy. And this is what ECOWAS is about in its economic integration process," Dr Musah said.
ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia, Ms Josephine Nkrumah, said ECOWAS Commission has engaged with all stakeholders including all three arms of government, the National Elections Commission (NEC), civil society, political parties and candidates with the view to help ensure a successful presidential and legislative elections.
She said after assessing the country’s preparedness for the elections, ECOWAS has been supporting the process with both technical and financial assistance with the latest being the procurement of IT experts to assist the NEC in securing its database.
She said the high-level meetings ECOWAS, led by the Head of the Observation Mission, Prof Attahiru Jega, had with stakeholders were successful and that all the political leaders have given assurance that they were committed to a peaceful electoral process.
Over 2.4 million Liberians will vote on October 10 to elect 30 Members of the Senate, 73 Members of Representative and a President. President Weah who is seeking re-election after his first 6-year term is being challenged by 19 other candidates.