President Urges Parliament to Safeguard Democracy
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the Republic of Ghana has called upon members of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to actively address the emerging threats to democracy in the region. Furthermore, he identified three grave challenges facing West African democracy, and with a sense of urgency, he urged regional leaders to uphold democratic principles and accountability.
Democracy at Risk
In a candid assessment, President Akufo-Addo warned that “democracy in West Africa is in danger” due to three distinct threats that demand immediate attention. He emphasized that the region must intensify efforts to secure democratic accountability among its citizens.
The President identified the first threat as “the attempted confiscation of democracy by elites,” who manipulate constitutional rules and subjugate national institutions to maintain power through legal maneuvers.
The second threat is the “emerging re-militarization of governance,” marked by military intrusion into politics without public mandate. Lastly, President Akufo-Addo pointed to
“the wanton desire to destroy democracy by terrorist groups and armed criminal gangs,” seeking to establish lawless zones.
Quoting Winston Spencer Churchill’s famous words, President Akufo-Addo reminded the audience that despite its imperfections, democracy remains the best form of governance. He noted that history has shown that people inevitably return to democracy and civil liberty after experiencing tyranny and oppression.
Facing Regional Challenges
Acknowledging the complex economic, political, social, and security challenges in the region, President Akufo-Addo expressed concern about the decline in democratic credentials. He highlighted that, at present, four ECOWAS member states are under military rule due to coups, generating anxiety and regional instability. He also criticized the violence and disputes characterizing some elections.
The President emphasized that leaders must derive their legitimacy from free, fair, and transparent elections. Any attempt to manipulate opinion or democratic rules for political gains erodes legitimacy and breeds social tensions. Stability in the region, he stressed, requires legality and legitimacy.
The Role of Democratic Governance
President Akufo-Addo underscored the true purpose of democratic governance: to ensure free government, shared prosperity, equitable justice, and lasting peace for the citizenry’s well-being.
Addressing the ECOWAS legislators, he passionately urged them to delve into the root causes of democratic regression and political instability in the region. He stressed the need to effectively combat these challenges and called for unwavering vigilance against leaders who seek to extend presidential term limits to consolidate power. Such actions, he emphasized, sow discontent and provide dangerous openings for military interventions.
A Call for Collective Effort
In conclusion, President Akufo-Addo called upon ECOWAS Parliament members to play a pivotal role in safeguarding democracy, emphasizing that true stability in the region can only be achieved when power is coupled with both legality and legitimacy.