CSOs to ECOWAS: Don’t railroad sub-region into war with Niger

CSOs to ECOWAS: Don’t railroad sub-region into war with Niger

Against the backdrop of the lingering political unrest in Niger, an alliance of six civil society organizations, CSOs, from across West Africa has publicly cautioned the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, against forcing the sub-region into an armed conflict.

The coalition argued that such an approach would only amplify the suffering of the people.

In a joint statement, Dr. Zikirullahi Mualeem Ibrahim, the convener of the coalition, said:  “The coalition rejects the attempts by decision-makers to railroad the subregion towards an armed conflict, which in all intents and purpose would further multiply the misery and suffering of ordinary citizens.

“Therefore, the threat of war and actual mobilization of military options in the context of the political crisis, is not in the interest of the people of Niger, Nigeria, and the rest of ECOWAS.”

He called on the ECOWAS to strive for democracy both in spirit and character, as a means to restore peace and order in the region.

The coalition comprises the Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education, CHRICED; Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC; Human and Environment Development Agenda, HEDA; and Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD.

Others are Centre Africain d’Appui au Leadership aux Droits Humains et à l’innovation Sociale, CALDHIS; and Network of Nigerien Organizations for the Defense of Democracy and Human Rights, RONIDDEDH.

He criticized ECOWAS for its previous silence on anti-democratic practices within its member states.

“It’s instructive to note that ECOWAS found it convenient to be silent when some of the leaders within its fold decided to adopt anti-democratic methods to perpetuate themselves in office,” Ibrahim noted.

He also pressed the military junta in Niger to present a well-defined and practical transition plan towards the restoration of democracy and constitutional order.

While further voicing the coalition’s concern, Ibrahim stated:  “The state actors must govern in a just, fair, constitutional, and inclusive manner.

“If they do not administer their countries in accordance with democratic principles, the best option is to use the electoral process, which provides the mechanism for periodic changes of government.”

Ibrahim also pointed out factors, such as disregard for democratic principles, extreme poverty, high unemployment, and lack of inclusion as the driving forces behind banditry, insurgency, terrorism, and the recent surge in coups in the West African subregion.

While expressing hope for the future, he noted:  “While we do hope that all sides in this unfortunate crisis have learned the bitter lessons from the developments in Niger, it is our hope that a return to democracy through free, fair, and credible elections will help restore confidence and address the peoples and international community’s concerns.”

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