Jarrah Kawusu-Konte & Sheriff Mahmoud Ismail: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 December 2021:
The second Kofi Annan Peace and Security Forum, organised by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre kick-started on Wednesday 8th December in Accra, Ghana. The conference which is running on the theme: “Democracy and Good Governance in the Context of Complex Crises in West Africa”, was officially opened by Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Of note and in view of the increasing concern over the decline of democracy in West Africa, the Ghanaian president pledged not to make changes to the constitution within six months of elections.
“I will respect the two term limits, and will not be an impediment to the conduct of free, fair, transparent and credible elections,” President Akufo-Addo (Photo) said.
He also urged his colleague heads of state to make a similar pledge in furtherance of democratic consolidation in the sub-region.
Regarding term limits, former Guinean Prime Minister who also served as Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, Lansana Kuyateh, underscored that it takes character and discipline to resist the temptations of hanging on to power.
Kuyateh therefore publicly commended Sierra Leone’s statesman, former president Koroma, for respecting the constitutional term limits despite the internal and external pressures on him to go for a third term.
On the decline of democracy in West Africa, Ibn Chambas, former ECOWAS Executive Secretary and former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General (SRSG) for West Africa and the Sahel, pointed out that most conflicts in West Africa occurred as a result of poorly managed or frankly rigged elections.
In the same vein, former Ghanaian President John Kufour, alongside former Guinean Prime ministers – Kabine Koumara and Lansana Kuyateh, identified politics of exclusion, constitutional violations/manipulations, bad governance and the integrity and character of leaders as key factors of conflict in West Africa.
To deal with those challenges, Sierra Leone’s statesman, former president H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, acknowledged the existence of ECOWAS protocols designed to uphold democracy but also urged for stronger actions to protect democracy and good governance.
“It is very clear that ECOWAS has in its protocols what it takes to have good governance and stable democracy yet some member states are back-tracking on democracy and good governance.”
Koroma spoke of the need “for ECOWAS to carve out a way of utilizing early warnings and be bold enough to confronting leaders who are contravening the ECOWAS protocols on democracy and good governance.”