A regional conference on democratic decline and political transitions in Francophone West Africa, organized by the West African Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS), has called for urgent action to address the growing threat to democracy in the region.
The conference, which was held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from August 1 to 2, 2023, brought together representatives from WADEMOS, ECOWAS, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders.
The participants discussed the factors that have contributed to the decline of democracy in Francophone West Africa, including the manipulation of term limits, the concentration of power in the executive, and the growing insecurity in the region.
They also called for urgent action to address these challenges, including:
- Strengthening democratic institutions, such as independent electoral commissions and the judiciary.
- Promoting inclusivity and political dialogue.
- Supporting and strengthening the independence of civil society organizations.
- Fostering cooperation among Francophone West African countries and regional organizations like ECOWAS.
- Establishing mechanisms for monitoring performance indicators for democracy.
- Breaking free from lingering colonial influence and adopting a more endogenous approach to democracy in West Africa.
The participants also called on ECOWAS to take a more proactive role in addressing the democratic decline in the region.
“ECOWAS must be more proactive in responding to the challenges facing democracy in the region,” said WADEMOS Executive Director, Prof. H. Kwasi Prempeh “The organization must use its influence to promote democratic reforms and hold governments accountable.”
The conference’s outcome statement is a call to action for all stakeholders who are committed to defending democracy in Francophone West Africa. The participants are hopeful that the recommendations will be taken seriously and implemented in order to prevent further democratic decline in the region.
In addition to the recommendations mentioned in the outcome statement, the conference also called for the following:
- The establishment of a regional mechanism to monitor and enforce compliance with democratic norms.
- The development of a comprehensive strategy to address the root causes of democratic decline, such as poverty, inequality, and corruption.
- The strengthening of the capacity of civil society organizations to monitor and hold governments accountable.
The participants of the conference are hopeful that their recommendations will be taken seriously and implemented in order to prevent further democratic decline in Francophone West Africa.