On Peace and Security in the Sahel region of West Africa - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Monday, August 31, 2020

On Peace and Security in the Sahel region of West Africa

 By Dr Tapiwa Mashakada

For almost three  decades, spanning the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, West Africa was a haven of military coups and civil wars. Ghana and Nigeria were notorious for military takeovers. In  other small West African states like Burkina Faso and Guinea, the former colonial power, France, was fingered as the master minder. In the 1990s, West Africa made a remarkable transition from military rule to civilian rule. In Ghana, the stepping down of Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings in the 1990s was a huge step towards the return to democracy. In Nigeria, the military agreed to transition the country to civilian rule when President  Olusegun Obasanjo took over in the first democratic elections in that country. Fast forward, the ghost of military coups in West Africa has returned back to haunt the Sahel region. 

On 18 August 2020, the military staged a coup in Mali and arrested President Ibrahim Baubacar Keita.    In response to the deteriorating political and security situation, ECOWAS held 2 emergency meetings on the 20th and 28th August 2020. At the 20th August meeting, ECOWAS resolved to dispatch a special envoy to Mali to start mediation. President Goodluck Jonathan was appointed the mediator. On 28th August 2020, ECOWAS met and agreed  on a Transitional Government in Mali. A Transitional President and Prime Minister will run the Transitional Government for 12 months and organize elections. The Transitional President and his Prime Minister will be civilians of credibility and repute. These developments are encouraging as they bring peace and stability to a region already reeling from the Boko Haram war. Thanks to ECOWAS for stabilizing the situation in Mali and the AU and UN are expected to endorse the ECOWAS plan. In fact ECOWAS has emerged as the most effective regional Bloc among the 8 Regional blocs of Africa in terms of providing leadership on peace and security and regional integration. 

With the release from captivity of President Keita,   it is hoped this good gesture by the military will pave way for the gradual return to civilian rule in Mali. 

In conclusion, Africa must never be allowed again to return back to military rule. The African Union peace and security architecture must work.

In Solidarity with the people of Mali.

Long live the people of Mali. Long live Africa.

Dr Tapiwa Mashakada is the founder and  Executive Director of the Harare-base Maji-Marefu Institute, an independent Pan-African Think Tank on International Relations, Economic Affairs and Security Studies.  

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