Sanction regime against violations of term elongation – WADEMOS, TLP, others tell ECOWAS

The West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS), in collaboration with Tournons La Page (TLP) and other civic and pro-democracy actors have called on ECOWAS to sanction regime against violations of the protocol beyond the unconstitutional changes in government to cover other issues like term elongation in the revised Supplementary Protocol.

According to them, it would enhance compliance and enforcement of the constitutions of all member countries.

Network Coordinator WADEMOS, Paul Osei-Kuffour in a press briefing recently in Abuja, said the call for the review of the ECOWAS supplementary protocol is of major concern to most African citizens, as amplified by the Afrobarometer Survey.

He said as a network of non-state actors, we are deeply concerned about these developments in the sub-region and strongly believe that critical attention has to be given to the revision of the ECOWAS Protocols on Democracy and Good Governance and the adoption of term limit.

He said: “To this extent, civil society organizations met in Nigeria on December 8, 2023, ahead of the ECOWAS Heads of State Summit to deliberate on the deteriorating state of democracy in the subregion, with particular emphasis on addressing the issue of term elongation and term limits in West Africa.

” The meeting made a number of observations and recommendations while recognizing and acknowledging efforts by ECOWAS towards the review of the supplementary protocol.

“Democracy in West Africa has seen a reversal since the last decade. Among the key drivers of democratic and political decline are the resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government (UCGs), violations of constitutional term limits, and the poor quality of elections conducted in recent times.

“Currently, the region is returning to the earlier days of coups d’état with Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Guinea in transition following military coups in these countries.

“Additionally, there have been a number of successful and unsuccessful attempts at changing constitutions to enable incumbent presidents to extend their term of office. In 2023, with the exception of Liberia, international and local observers as well as citizens have questioned the credibility and integrity of electoral outcomes in Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

“Following the September 5, 2021, coup d’etat in Guinea and at an extraordinary session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government in Accra, the President of the ECOWAS Commission was instructed to initiate a process to review the 2001 Supplementary Protocol as part of efforts to strengthen democracy.

“Unfortunately, at the Sixty-First Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government in Accra, Ghana, in July 2022, steps taken to table proposals for consideration did not materialize due to continued opposition from the governments of Togo, Senegal, and Ivory Coast.

“The West African leaders, however, commended the Commission on the progress made to build consensus on the review of the 2001 ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.

“At the sixty-second ordinary session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government, held in Abuja, Nigeria, on December 4, 2022, ECOWAS stated in its communiqué that it “reaffirms its strong condemnation of unconstitutional changes of government and underscores the urgent need for collective action to entrench democracy and promote stability in the region” and pledged to apply severe sanctions for non-compliance.

” The Authority further directed the Commission to continue discussions with Member States and other stakeholders to build consensus and finalize the revision of the 2001 Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance. Additionally, the Heads of State also directed the President of the Commission to submit a draft revised supplementary protocol to the Heads of State at their next session.

“We the members of WADEMOS, comprising over 35 civil society organizations in West Africa, TLP, and the coalition of CSOs against term limits, therefore call on the Authority of Heads of States and Government of ECOWAS to prioritize the adoption of term limits on the agenda at the upcoming ECOWAS Heads of State Summit to be held in Abuja on Sunday, December 10th,” he said.