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Ecowas has shown the way


The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) has led the way and set an example for all African countries that dictators and electoral thieves can no longer have their way by how they have intervened in the Gambian electoral stalemate.

Comment: NewsDay Editor

For long, some Presidents have behaved like they own the countries they rule over and could get away with anything, but as Yahya Jammeh now knows, he cannot have his cake and eat it too.

Ecowas has run the rule and told him to accept that he lost elections and he should pave way for Adama Barrow, who was sworn in on Thursday – albeit in curious circumstances at the Gambian embassy in Senegal.

Ecowas’s leadership and forthrightness should serve as an example to other regional blocs that they should not suffer fools gladly.

Last year, there was chaos in Burundi over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for another term, which bred violence and lawlessness.

Ever the toothless bulldog, the African Union huffed and puffed and made all sorts of threats, but in the end it did nothing and Nkurunziza is still standing.

The East African Community made all manner of threats, but also failed to act on them.

This is not to encourage military intervention and violence, but regional blocs can be proactive by denying election thieves legitimacy and refusing to recognise them.

More often than not, African leaders act like an old boys’ club, where they refuse to censure each other in the name of non-interference, the most self-serving and selfish approach to international diplomacy.

We live in a world where decisions in one country affect its neighbours and the so-called principle of non-interference is disingenuous.

For example, the crises in Burundi, Gambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe have seen millions of people crossing into neighbouring countries, where they become a burden on social services of the host country.

Once citizens of that country begin to feel that many refugees are in their country and eating away at public funds, they react and this leads to xenophobia and ultimately violence against foreigners.

So, the era when African leaders keep quiet about each other’s excesses should be confined into the dustbins of history and a more proactive approach be adopted.

Sadc has been found particularly wanting in this regard and has let down the people of Zimbabwe in the process and chipped away at the credibility it had.

Despite President Robert Mugabe’s obvious excesses, Sadc has remained largely silent, with only Botswana willing to confront the elephant in the room.

Regional blocs should also serve as peer review mechanisms, but so far they have not, meaning they are not fit for purpose.

Kudos to Ecowas, it has shown the way.

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