The newly elected ECOWAS Chairperson Bola Tinubu reaffirmed Sunday (Jul. 09), the bloc's commitment to democracy as the best form of governance.
The Nigerian president who was in Bissau with fellow west African leaders promised firmness in the face of coups.
The 15-member bloc has witnessed a total of five coups in 3 member countries since 2020.
"Without democracy there’s no governance, there’s no freedom, there’s no rule of law. We will not allow coup after coup in West Africa sub-region," Tinubu declared to thunderous applause.
A press statement from Dele Alake, special adviser to the president on special duties, communications and strategy, which was made available to Anadolu said that Tinubu warned that the threat to peace in the sub-region had reached an alarming proportion with terrorism and an emerging pattern of military takeover that demanded urgent and concerted actions.
He said insecurity and creeping terrorism were stunting the progress and development of the region.
Tinubu called for collective action from member states, pledging that under his leadership, frameworks would be harmonized to actualize the dreams of ECOWAS.
The president noted that ECOWAS had developed a security architecture that covers a wide range of areas that involved kinetic and non-kinetic operations, including preventive diplomacy. There is also the Regional Plan of Action on the Fight Against Terrorism 2020-2024 as well as the operationalization of the ECOWAS Standby Force on the Fight Against Terrorism.
"I will ensure that we immediately harmonize these plans and mobilize resources as well as the political will towards the actualization of the initiatives. As terrorists do not respect boundaries, we must work collectively to have an effective regional counterterrorism measure,” he said.
'We must not sit as toothless dogs'
On his election as chairman in his first time participating at the summit, having just been elected president of Nigeria, Tinubu said he was humbled and honored by the move.
"Indeed, I’m humbled and honored by this trust and want to assure you of my unalloyed commitment to provide the necessary leadership with dedication to serve the interests of the community," he said.
He declared that he would prioritize political stability, peace and security, regional economic integration and the strengthening of ECOWAS institutions, declaring that democracy and good governance remain the cornerstone of peace and sustainable development.
While decrying the emerging pattern of coups d'etat in West Africa, where soldiers have truncated the popular mandate, Tinubu charged ECOWAS to stand firm in defense of democracy.
"We must stand firm on democracy, he said."
"There is no one here among us who did not campaign to be a leader. We didn't give our soldiers resources, we didn't invest in them, in their boots, in their training to violate the freedom of the people. To turn their guns against civil authorities is a violation of the principles upon which they were hired, which is to defend the sovereignty of their nations. We must not sit in ECOWAS as toothless bulldogs," he warned.
"We must strengthen our democratic institutions and ensure the respect for human rights and the rule of law."
Tinubu promised to "enhance engagements with authorities" in Mali, Burkina and Guinea "to ensure a quick return to democratic rule."
The Ecowas commission chief, Omar Alieu Touray, urged these countries to keep their transition timelines or face sanctions.