By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate and Regional Director of Central and West Africa at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) based in Washington, USA has urged the Biden Administration to not just make declarations but these declarations should be followed by a tough stance as military across the Africa continent continue to seize power from the civilian rule.
The discussions organized by the United States Institute for Peace, USIP, are coming on the heels of the Biden Administration’s Summit for Democracy. As the Biden Administration commits to revitalising global democracy, there has been a steady rise of coups and coup attempts in 2021. Despite what the military junta claim, the current “epidemic of coups” as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called it, spreads instability, undermines democratic progress and human rights and it is accelerating cycles of violence in countries wracked by conflict.
“This is a very sticky point because nobody wants the military to become comfortable that they prolong their stay in power,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh said when addressing how feasible is it for elections to be held in Guinea in the next six months. “The important thing is to have a timeline that is workable to have elections conducted inclusively.”
“ECOWAS is being tested with its commitment to its protocols. ECOWAS is mindful that if it falters on Guinea, it is going to open the Pandora box. We have seen the military get back to politics in Mali and now in Guinea, we have seen in Sudan and there is a concern that if our regional organizations are not firm in the way they stand up to the military but also in the way they stand up to autocratic regimes, the country county could see a lot of its democratic gains reverted.”
Speaking on recommendations to the Biden Administration, Dr Fomunyoh called on the Biden Administration to be proactive in its endeavours. He said: “The US government is knowledgeable or has a way of knowing in advance where the country is headed and it will be useful to share some of that information with the public so that it puts the autocrats of the military in those countries on notice and that they are being watched and that the world is watching.”
“I will also recommend that they put some muscle to their declaration because people have become tired with declarations that are not followed by actions. We see that the bad actors do things that undermine democracy but the pro-democracy forces, CSOs, political parties very often do not feel that they have the material resources to be able to stand their ground or continue in their actions to strengthen democracy.”
Dr Fomunyoh added: “The matter of consistency in terms of how they (Biden Administration) engage with other countries and also how they engage with bad actors on the continent, and how it rewards the good actors…”
The continued coups across the continent according to Dr Fomunyoh could be seen through the prism of the security challenges that the continent and especially West Africa is going through. He added that the purpose of the Military’s work is to guarantee the safety and security of the population and that they should stick to their mission and do it well.
“There is a major security threat that is looking at countries across West Africa and it will be most unfortunate if the security services in countries in that sub-region are spending their time focusing on how to get involved in politics rather than carrying out the missions for which they have been created,” Dr Fomunyoh said.