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CSOs move against unconstitutional change of government in W/Africa

CSOs move against unconstitutional change of government in W/Africa

In collaboration with the government, civil society organisations (CSOs), have launched a four-year Regional Citizen Dialogue Programme (RCDP) to prevent and respond to unconstitutional take of government (UCG) in West Africa.

The RCDP launched in Abuja on Wednesday aims to promote constitutional order and state legitimacy, preserve the integrity of electoral processes, enhance diversity management and human rights and address the issue of terrorism.

The CSOs include the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Nigeria in collaboration with the Regional Centre for Governance and Security Policy Initiative (RCGSPI), AU ECOSOCC, the Centre for Good Leadership and Journalism (DCLJ) Abuja Nigeria, KAICID Inter-Faith Dialogue Forum for Peace in Abuja, Nigeria have united to initiate the RCDP

The RCDP is also an attempt by CSOs to support the operationalisation of the AU Accra Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Africa (March 2022), and the Malabo Declaration on Terrorism and Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Africa, adopted at the 16th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union Head of States on May 22, 2022.

Dung Pam Sha, director of research, NIPSS noted that the recent surge in Unconstitutional Changes of Governments in the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) posed significant threats to the political stability and democratic progress in the region.

“This troubling trend, evidenced by military takeovers and the overthrow of democratically elected governments has cast a shadow over the achievements In democratisation, including the development of political and security institutions, electoral processes, and the safeguarding of freedoms and democratic rights amongst others. Furthermore, this trend jeopardises regional and global efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism in sub-regions like the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin”

According to him, the RCDP is an opportunity for ECOWAS citizens across its 15 member states, to come together to collectively discuss their views, and opinions, and amplify their voices on issues related to incidences of UCG in the region.

The RCDP will also help to strengthen the technical capacity and knowledge of implementing partners, CSOs at the country level, to effectively facilitate the process of establishing a functional interactive dialogue platform, including the ICT portal system and the provision of support for the implementation of the regional and national action plans on UCGs across ECOWAS member states.

Olawale Awe, director, of ECOWAS, national unit, ministry of foreign affairs, commended the launch of the initiative which aims to promote constitutional order, good governance, democracy, rule of law, peace and security, as well as human rights.

Awe, who represented the minister of foreign affairs, said that the programme would complement the efforts of ECOWAS in preventing and responding to unconstitutional changes in government.

“I am optimistic that today’s event will present a veritable platform for dialogue among resource persons participating in this programme to provide some actionable solutions for the problems of governance in our region.”

Kyeretwie Akwasi Osei, head of programmes, African Union Economic, Social & Cultural Council (AU ECOSOCC), noted that as part of its responsibility as the advisory organ of the African Union with a specific mandate, to promote civil society participation and serve as a bridge between the union as a whole and the African citizenry.

Brown Odigie, director of political affairs, ECOWAS Commission, added that citizens’ engagement was a key component in ECOWAS and there is, therefore, an urgent and compelling need for dedicated and strategic collective efforts of critical stakeholders, particularly civil society, to join hands with other democratic forces towards achieving a stable and enduring democratic process for lasting peace in West Africa.