• Friday, March 01, 2024
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Redefining African Union’s role in safeguarding democracy on the continent

Redefining African union’s role in safeguarding democracy on the continent

The incessant news of military coup d’etat in African regions overthrowing the democratically elected regimes across some African countries including the most recent Gabon is worrisome and has spiked concerns about how to sustain political stability and acceptable governance in Africa. The coup trend initiated the erosion of democratic principles and was constructed against the will and wish of the bedrock of the African Union and the founding fathers. The African region is a continent of about 1.4 billion persons with a GDP of $ 8 trillion -PPP (worldometer). The continent is too relevant to the neglected when the world needs to focus on peaceful co-existence. It is factual that a coup disrupts the development and sustainable advancement of the continent if nothing is done. In this perspective, it is high time the African Union rose to the clarion call and played a more diplomatic and assertive role in protecting the veil of democracy in Africa through its mechanism by preserving our sovereignty devoid of external manipulations.

Challenges and consequences

In recent times, Africa has experienced the rise of military intervention to subdue the democratically elected government. This disturbing trend even though acceptable by the people due to the extended suffering from horrific leaders is concerning vis a vis the destabilisation of human rights, economic activities, and national /regional peace. In addendum, these military interventions drive authority vacuum, violence, and creation of another puppet and opportunist that prioritizes external government interests over their people. Africa has been in the revolving dimension with a ripple effect of delivering mistrust in democracy and harm to Africa’s growth.

The AU’s imperative

To restore confidence in the democratic process in Africa, the African Union has a significant role to play. AU must be proactive in its approach to avert further military intervention and ensure that a democratically elected government is sustained with stability and popularity among the people.

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1. Reinforcement diplomacy and mediation: The AU should not wait till a coup occurs before sensing conflict and displeasure in their member states. A predictive and preventive approach must be employed to salvage the occurrence of military intervention via alternative dispute resolution such as mediation, negotiation, and conciliation. AU must engage in the early warning systems and deploy experienced mediators to resolve the kiosk between the conflicting parties before it escalates beyond remedy.

2. Promoting democratic governance: The AU can support a democratic structure to enhance egalitarianism and governance in member states. This includes strengthening electoral systems, supporting the rule of law, respect for institutions, probity, accountability, and transparency.

 It is high time the AU intervened to restore peace, confidence, self-determination, and prosperity back to Africa

3. Stimulating awareness and public engagement: The AU should invest in educating the public through campaigns, rural orientation, and public education on the importance of democracy. An informed public can challenge external manipulation and demand accountability from their governments.

4. Support the civil societies: The AU should foster collaboration with civil society organizations. This approach will catalyze people’s voices being heard including their participation in the government decision-making processes. Civil society organisations are activists who check government excesses and their external manipulations.

5. Economic empowerment: AU should strengthen the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). If their members are empowered economically to negotiate trade, and loan terms and prevent vulnerability to foreign influence. The AU can accelerate intra-African trade, foster industrialization, and encourage self-sufficiency to lessen over-reliance on external players.

6. Regional security cooperation: AU must consolidate regional security mechanisms to avert potential coup plotting. Collaborative security initiatives across African borders can improve the stability and uphold our c sovereignty as a continent.

7. Condemn coups and impunity: The AU should implement a caveat of a zero-tolerance stance towards coup attempts. AU must publicly condemn the coup and impose diplomatic sanctions on coup players. This will send a strong signal that an unconstitutional change of government is intolerable.

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8. Foster Pan-African unity: AU must revive the spirit of the founding fathers and promote Pan-Africanism that will place Africa as a world power through continental cooperation, a united value system, and a focus on growth and development across borders.

It is high time the AU intervened to restore peace, confidence, self-determination, and prosperity back to Africa through the above-mentioned points. We look forward to seeing a renewed Africa run on true democracy and an assured future for our unborn generations. God bless Africa!

 

Bodunrin is a professor of Human Resources and Organizational Behaviour at Algoma University, Ontario, Canada. He also leads Sambod Consulting in Toronto. He is an author, Keynote speaker, DEIB evangelist, Future of Work researcher and Agile Project Manager.