This article is intended to discourage militarization of politics in the ECOWAS region by advocating for the removal of conditions and activities that precipitate military intervention.
African leaders must recognize that their treatments of their citizens in denying them their fundamental democratic rights, amplified by weak and politically compromised institutions,election fraud, tribalism and corruption are factors that leads to instability and chaos, which had provoked military intervention in the subregion.
The ECOWAS and AU Proscribing military intervention whiles leaving out leaders with autocratic tendencies, repressive tactics and intimidation of their population will be counterproductive in discouraging coups.
The strengthening of democratic governance will not hold amid institutional weaknesses and especially the independence of the judicial system in many of these African countries except for Malawi that had overturned an election petition in favour of the losing opposition .
Discouraging “unconstitutional change” which ECOWAS had professed in its policy positions toward regional settlement, now need a critical review, following the Mili coup, to initiate a more equitable parameters of the meaning and application of unconstitutional change of government.
At this stage, I will call the president of Guinea Bissau to testify.
The president of this tiny west African country, made an incisive and bold statement that when presidents manipulate and changed their constitution for the purposes of extending stay in power or extending a stay in power, must be regarded as a coup.
According to a report I have read on the ECOWAS negotiating team meeting with the military junta in Mali, both the Guinean president and Ivorian president were visibly unease at that proposition from the president of Guinea Bissau.
Guinea has been gripped by violent street protests over a constitutional amendment that could allow their 82 years old president a third term.
The former president of Ivory coast Alansan Quatera has now been adopted by his party as their presidential candidate in the fourth coming Ivorian elections,having already served two terms as president.
The recent military intervention in Mali, which was a silently executed coup, gives a clear signal to ECOWAS that when leaders trampled on the rights of their citizens, steal public funds and used heavy handedness to stifle peaceful protests, they should always look after their shoulders that the same army they had deployed on the streets to shoot at protesters can step in to salvage a nation sliding in chaos.
We saw that in Zimbabwe when the army forced out the long term dictator, Robert Mugabe, inorder to prevent chaos .
The wheelchair bound North Africa leader Buterfliker was forced out by the army when Algerians protested against his attempt to stand for forth term.
Omer Bashir’s exit was precipitated by protest and forced out by the military. He is currently in jail and charged with corruption and killing of protesters by the new combined military and civilian
ECOWAS and AU can discourage military coups not when it had occurred but by taken positive measures to support the democratization of the subregion through the imposition of sanctions on leaders that don’t respect their constitutions, disregards standard democratic practices and norms, rigged elections, steal public funds and attack the rights of their citizens.
There are African leaders who think themselves as a demigod and who imposed their madness and wickedness on their hapless population, knowing that they can use the armed forces and the judiciary under their control and influence to sustain themselves in power. This is wrong and ECOWAS should look in to a way out.
The usurpation of state institutions, the abuse of office,lack of judicial independence, changing constitution to prolong their stay in power, or extend it, use of force of arm to clamp down on opposition protest, the harassment of critics and opposition members, election fraud represent poses an existentialist threat to stability in the Africa subregion.
ECOWAS should take a leaf from the European union.
Right now, the EU has rejected the election in Belarus as fraudulent and imposed sanctions on the president, known as the last dictator in Europe.
ECOWAS should insist on not only sending election observers to supervise elections in their community of nations but send troops to guard polling stations and ballot boxes, especially where election rigging could significantly destabilise the country.
A rogue African leader uses the army to intimidate the opposition and interfered with ballot boxes.
This method was perfected by dictator Jammeh, until the army he used to rigged elections for him sabotaged it at the last election– that forced him to seek refuge with his fellow long term dictator of Equatorial guinea.