West African experts urge ECOWAS to monitor economic and political indices, use diplomacy to handle coups

Experts from West Africa have called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to apply automaticity in monitoring economic and political indices in the sub-region, and to use diplomacy and negotiations to handle military coups.

The experts made the call at a three-day high-level Parliamentary Seminar on “The Challenges of Unconstitutional Regime Change and Presidential Term Limits in West Africa – Role of the ECOWAS Parliament” in Winneba, Ghana.

Prof. Raymond Atugba, Dean of the University of Ghana, said that political and economic indices must be monitored to give early warning signals for preemptive action. He said that ECOWAS already has automatic mechanisms for getting money from its member states, and that this same automaticity could be applied to the monitoring of economic criteria.

“History has taught us that it has happened,” Atugba said. “In the 1960s, we saw the political Kingdom. The people waited until the 1970s, but no economic Kingdom came. What happened? Coups in the 1970s, in the 1980s, and in the 1990s. They forgave us and said come back. So we went back to the political sector in the 1990s. From the year 2000, they waited 10 years, but no economic Kingdom. So what have they started doing? Kicking you out. It is not rocket science. If the economic Kingdom doesn’t follow the political Kingdom, forget it! You will be kicked out as politicians.”

Atugba therefore advised political actors who seek political positions through elections to ensure that the economic well-being of the citizens is attended to when elected, otherwise they will be “kicked out through a coup”.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, former President of the ECOWAS Commission, called for diplomacy and negotiations in dealing with military takeovers in the sub-region. He also wants African solutions to African problems, even as he said ECOWAS must be allowed to be in the driver’s seat.

“I think after the dust is settled, we need to ensure that informed decisions and actions are taken,” Chambas said. “Coups can never be condoned, should not be allowed, and the military should not be made to feel comfortable. We must constantly put pressure on them. But ultimately, in the context at that time, diplomacy and negotiation should prevail. We have strife in Africa, in the Sahel, and in the sub-region. We cannot escalate it militarily.”

“We must allow diplomacy to prevail and we must allow ECOWAS to truly be in the driver’s seat so that we seek African solutions to this African problem,” Chambas asserted.

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