By Abdullahi Alhassan, Kaduna
Civil society legislative and Advocacy Centre, (CISLAC) west African Civil society Forum, (WACSOF) and Transition Monitoring group (TMG) urge dialogue to Mitigate Disintegration of ECOWAS and ensure speedy restoration of Democratic Rule in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.
The groups also express dismay the events surrounding the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the recent announcement of the withdrawal of the Republic of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso from the regional community.
While CSO continues to condemn in totality military rule in the region rather than resorting to constitutional measures. The threat of gradual disintegration of a community which had hitherto served as best practice template for regional integration in Africa cannot be overlooked.
In a Press statement jointly signed by executive Director of (CISLAC) Mallam Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, Kop’ep Dabugat, General Secretary, West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) and
Najaatu Mohammed Transition Monitoring Group (TMG).
“It is imperative for Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, and indeed the rest of the member states of ECOWAS to have a deep reflection over the collective milestones of the regional integration collectively achieved, including peace missions to member states;
“free mobility of people, goods and services; trade enhancement through the removal of customs duties and tariffs on commodities; as well as collective infrastructural development efforts such as the West African power pool leading to the construction of Diama and Manatali dams in Senegal and Mali respectively.
“At a time when the region is advancing discussions of a single market to further boost trade and development, it is completely disheartening to see leaders shun the channel of diplomacy and dialogue and instead attempting to disintegrate the community.
In pursuit of a more integrated and stronger community of states in the West African region, CISLAC, TMG and WACSOF is calling on the Authorities of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso to rescind their decisions to withdraw from ECOWAS because of obvious beneficial reasons.
CISLAC,TMG and WACSOF urges state and non-state actors in the region to intensify engagements towards ensuring a more united ECOWAS.The military authorities in these countries to urgently roll out workable transition plans that clearly reactivate return to civil rule and quick restoration of democratic order.
These plans should consist of a timetable of political activities leading up to the conduct of elections and transmission of power, within the shortest time possible.
“The military authority in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso in the spirit of fairness, transparency, and accountability, to recuse themselves from transmitting from military to civil rulers.
This is particularly pertinent as failure to do so would create the impression that the only intention of the junta was to grab power for personal interests.
“The Authorities in these countries to ensure and prioritize free, fair, and credible elections capable of bringing about the choices of the people and thereby restoring their trust for democratic processes.
“The people of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso to take advantage of transition programmes to rise and be counted by actively participating in the quest to return to democracy.
CISLAC WACSOF and TMG also calls on the leadership of ECOWAS and all West African countries to remove the sanctions imposed on the Republic of Niger and any of the above-mentioned countries which has caused hardship to the people of the country especially women, children and other vulnerable groups.
“It is imperative to recall the commitment of member states not to attack one another through the non- aggression treaty signed in 1976. Attack may not only be in the form of military engagement.
“The leaders of ECOWAS in the interest of sustaining a peaceful, united, and prosperous economic bloc must continue to operate under the principles mutual respect that made the region a template for best practice in fostering regional integration in Africa.
“The community must recognize the clauses that protect each member state from interference in its internal affairs. More so, in a period of growing trans-border insecurity, a more integrated ECOWAS is requisite for stemming the tides of insecurity in the region.
“CISLAC, WACSOF and TMG re-echoes the instrumentality of continued dialogue and sustained civil engagements for democratic stability in the region.