Civil society groups in West Africa call on Niger junta to restore democracy

A coalition of civil society groups in West Africa has called on the military junta in Niger to put forward a short and realistic plan for a transition back to democratic and constitutional government.

The groups, which include the Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED), the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and the Human and Environment Development Agenda (HEDA), said that all forms of unconstitutional takeover or seizure of political power are not in the long-term interest of the sub-region and its people.

In a Press statement issued on Thursday, the Convener of the groups, Ibrahim Zikirullahi also rejected the attempts by decision-makers to railroad the sub-region towards an armed conflict and called for introspection and calm dialogue to address the issues underlying the crisis confronting democracies in the sub-region.

The groups said that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) must immediately begin the process of rethinking its roles and relevance as it concerns halting the sub-region’s slide back to the dark days of military adventurism in the political space.

They also called on the Niger junta to strive to be democratic in spirit and character, and to address the underlying causes of coups, such as the lack of respect for democratic tenets, extreme poverty, massive unemployment, and a lack of inclusion.

The groups’ call comes as the international community is increasingly concerned about the coup pandemic that is sweeping the West African sub-region. In recent months, there have also been coups in Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso.

The groups’ statement is a strong rebuke to the Niger junta and a call for a return to democracy in the sub-region. It is also a reminder that the international community is watching closely and will not tolerate unconstitutional changes of government.

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