President Bola Tinubu on Sunday said the Sahel Alliance by Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso which are under military dictatorship would not lessen the resolve of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, to uphold its primary objective.
President Tinubu also said that the regional bloc will re-engage member countries under military rule based on realistic and short transition plans that would deliver democracy and good governance.
He said the new approach will help to achieve a quicker return to constitutional democracy in some of the West African Countries.
Speaking in his opening address at the 64th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Nigerian President, who said that there is no place for military rule in Africa, explained that the objective of the ECOWAS in insisting for democracy is to prioritise good governance for West Africans, as it catalyzes socioeconomic transformation and development.
He told heads of state that, “It is important that we also review some development in our sub-region, including the move by some of our members under Military rule to float an Alliance of Sahel States.
“This phantom, push back-alliance appears intended to divert attention from our mutual quest for democracy and good governance that will impact the life of our people.
“We refuse to be detracted from pursuing the collective dreams, aspirations and the noble path of ECOWAS integration as laid out in our institutional and legal frameworks.”
Recall that in September 2023, Mali’s Assimi Goita, who seized power in a military coup in 2020, explained that the “Liptako-Gourma Charter” forms the building block for an “Alliance of Sahel States to establish a collective defence and mutual assistance framework for our populations.”
This is coming on the heels of months of diplomatic row in the wake of the coup d’état in Niger that overthrew the Mohamed Bazoum-led government in Republic of Niger that attracted anger, sanctions and even the threat of military intervention from the ECOWAS.
But in his address at the Extraordinary Session in Abuja, the regional body Chairman maintained that the sanctions on the countries that overthrew the democratically elected leaders were meant to protect the fundamental liberties of the citizens.
According to him, “While the imposition of punitive sanctions may pose challenges, it is important to underscore that the struggle to protect the fundamental liberties of our Community Citizens must be upheld and respected.
“To this end, I would like to reiterate the imperative of re-engaging with the countries under military rule on the basis of realistic and short transition plans that can deliver democracy and good governance.
“On our part, we should be prepared to provide them with technical and material support to ensure the achievement of these strategic goals.
“We must pay attention to protect the institution and protect democracy I wish to underscore the fact that we stand against the unconstitutional change of government in our sub-region and we will continue to do so.”
He reiterated that Military rule is an aberration that subverts the popular will of the people hence it no longer has a place in Africa.
He said, “The message must go out loud and clear military rule has become an aberration that subverts the popular will of the people. It no longer has any place in Africa.
“Our people must be allowed to exercise their freedom of choice without let or hindrance. For democracy to endure in our sub-region, we must improve on good government and respect human rights and the rule of law.”
However, he said member states must “improve on good government and respect human rights and the rule of law” for democracy to endure in the sub-region.
Tinubu also commended his Liberian counterpart, George Weah, for conceding defeat at the just-concluded presidential elections and laying the groundwork for a smooth transition of power.
“By conceding defeat and congratulating his opponent, President Weah has left a legacy to be emulated by politicians in our region and beyond.
“On behalf of Members of the Authority, I express gratitude for his significant contributions to the Organization and wish him the very best in all his future endeavours,” said the President.
He assured the Sierra Leonean President, Julius Bio and Guinea Bissau’s Umaro Embalo of the bloc’s support in preserving democracy.
Tinubu said, “On the recent disturbances in Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau, let me express my solidarity with the People and Government of Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.
“I wish also to underscore our unequivocal stance against any form of unconstitutional change of government in our sub-region.
“I therefore urge all of us to stand strong and united in solidarity with the People and Governments of Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau in the face of these unfortunate incidents.”
On his part, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray, lamented that while the Niger Junta continues to hold Bazoum and his family hostage, they are also interfering with the flow of humanitarian support to vulnerable populations.
“The military authorities have unfortunately shown little remorse as they hold onto their untenable positions, holding not only Mohamed Bazoum, his family and members of his government hostage but also the people of Niger.
“And in line with the provisions of our community texts, they granted humanitarian access to medical and humanitarian goods for the sake of the people