The recent military overthrow of Guinean President, Alpha Condé has reignited the debate on the role of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in dealing with political instability within its jurisdiction.

Some political analysts have criticised the regional body for not being proactive in taking steps to prevent Mr. Condé from amending the Guinean constitution to remain in power for a third term.

Senior Law Lecturer at the University of Ghana Law School, Prof. Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua said that although ECOWAS has appropriate treaties and protocols to deal with volatility in the sub-region, the bloc lacks the powers to decisively deal with the recurrent coup d’états.

Speaking on JoyNews Newsfile Saturday, the law professor said that the African Union (AU) and the ECOWAS must have a broader look at the causes of the undemocratic changes in governments in order to reduce the political instability witnessed in recent times.

He proposed that member states must be made to yield more powers to the regional blocs to deal ruthlessly with issues capable of creating instability in the sub-region.

“We have not been able to transform the international organisation to have a character of its own. The international organisation is supposed to take away some sovereignty from the member states. The member states should be willing to cede parts of their sovereignty to the international organisation to enable it to have a character of its own and be able to apply sanctions where necessary,” he said.

The AU regime against the unconstitutional change of government, first pronounced in the Lome Declaration, formalised in its Constitutive Act and further elaborated in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, encompasses a range of different acts, and tasks the institution with countering coups and other types of unlawful and undemocratic power grabs. 

However, the AU has never publicly invoked this prohibition, despite the prevalence of third-termism across the continent and has largely remained silent in the face of “constitutional coups” – incumbent leaders making amendments to the constitution to avoid term and age limits.

But the law professor believes ECOWAS failed to act swiftly on the military overthrow in Guinea.

According to Prof. Appiagyei-Atua, if the regional bloc had acted when the ousted President, Alpha Condé made changes in the constitution to remain in power for the third term, the military would not have stepped in.

The Senior Lecturer also cautioned that the trend where some African leaders overturn their constitution to seek a 3rd term in power may spell doom for the continent and called for urgent steps to be taken to avert any form of instability in the sub region.



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