By Omar Bah
The Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment has urged West African stakeholders to mobilise efforts and ideas to resist coups in the region.
Special envoys and high officials of ECOWAS, Sunday completed a three-day intensive discussion in Banjul on unconstitutional changes of government and constitutional transitions in West Africa amid growing concerns of co a better understanding on how to handle mediations.
Addressing the dignitaries on Friday at the opening of the retreat, Minister Baboucarr Ousmaila Joof said the recent upsurge of unconstitutional change of governments is “occurring in an intricate manner”.
“In this regard, as objectionable as they are, coups should be discouraged and resisted. Without peace and harmony Africa will remain on a permanent state of transition. This is not some fancy theory; it is our living experience in the Gambia and arguably across the continent”, the minister said.
Minister Joof told the envoys that the imperative of taking stock of these interconnected and interdependent ideals and recharting Africa’s own part forward is as urgent as ever with the series of unconstitutional changes of governments that has reared its head worsening insecurity.
He said Ecowas stakeholders should push and champion respect for countries’ constitutions which outlined the fundamental values, principles and standards for societies and states the social contracts between the governing and the governed.
“They are the supreme law of the land and provide the foundation for the rule of law and they de-personalise power. Accordingly, enabling and supporting constitutional transitions should be integral to the objectives and strategies of all stakeholders both national and international particularly for regional organisations such as Ecowas and their peace mediators,” he added.
He argued that the continent should return to the drawing board and rethink its future.
“I hope that the wisdom of the combination of your experiences will generate ideas that would contribute in propelling the continent forward and help Africa extract itself from the current predicament deterring our transitions,” he said.
The International IDEA regional director, Roba Sharamo said the Gambia is a successful case study for the continent as far as transitions are concerned especially at a time when Africa is grappling with coups. “It is important that we celebrate the country’s transition and as well learn from their experience,” he said. He said the retreat is necessary to assist envoys in the region to have a better understanding of how to handle mediations. The retreat, organised by the International IDEA and supported by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, brought together special envoys and leaders of ECOWAS among other high profile dignitaries including Sierra Leonean former president Ernest Bai Koroma.
According to the organisers, it is aimed at enabling stakeholders to contribute to sustaining peace, so as to prevent the outbreak, continuation, escalation and recurrence of violent conflict in West Africa and enhance the capacity of special envoys through sharing of knowledge.
During the three-day event, the envoys were given the opportunity to share perspectives on the driving factors of unconstitutional changes of government in the last two years.