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ECOWAS must take steps to prevent coups in West Africa, says Osinbajo

Nigeria’s vice president, Yemi Osinbajo has stated that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) must take proactive steps to prevent coups in the sub-region.

This was stated on Wednesday by the vice-president while representing President Muhammadu Buhari at a virtual extraordinary session of the authority of heads of state and government of ECOWAS member-states on the political developments in the republics of Guinea and Mali.

This meeting which was attended by 10 ECOWAS leaders comes days after Guinean President Alpha Conde was ousted in a coup d’etat.

The vice-president condemned the Guinean coup, saying the development could destabilise the Republic of Guinea.

“What happened in Guinea is a brazen disregard for the provisions of ECOWAS protocol on democracy and good governance, which clearly states that every accession to power must be made through free, fair and transparent election,” he said.

Osinbajo said: “The unconstitutional seizure of power in any shape or form is simply unacceptable,” adding that “four coups within the last few months is a dangerous trend indeed.”

“Could we, for example, work out an understanding with the UN, AU, Commonwealth and possibly, even the development finance institutions we are a part of to act in unity to suspend a country where there has been a seizure of power from all these bodies simultaneously?” 

He then called on the sub-regional group to immediately “invoke the provisions of Article 45 of the ECOWAS protocol on democracy and good governance by suspending Guinea from all ECOWAS decision-making bodies and statutory meetings. We should also take any other necessary punitive measures that will ensure that the military junta does not overstay in power”.

“We must forestall a repeat of military interventions and the instability it engenders in the West African sub-region,” he said. 

Speaking further, Osinbajo told ECOWAS to immediately appoint a mediator to lead the region’s genuine engagement with the military in Guinea towards finding a lasting solution that will return the country to democratic rule as soon as possible.

“ECOWAS must use its regional mechanisms efficiently to engage the military junta and if necessary, provide support for them to return the country to normalcy and democratic rule,” he added.

The vice-president also said Conde must be released unconditionally and that the safety of lives and property in Guinea must be guaranteed.

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