AU chairperson expresses concern over resurgence of coups in Africa


By Cecilia Ologunagba

African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has expressed grave concern over the resurgence of coup d’état in Africa.

Mahamat said this while answering questions from the UN Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at a news conference in New York on Tuesday.

The chairperson, who was in New York to attend the seventh high-level dialogue, spoke in the context of the recent military coup attempt in Sierra Leone.

“Coup d’état is a violation of democratic rules in states. They are a phenomenon that we thought was definitively over and done with on the African continent.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen six coups d’état, six French states have been suspended from the African Union due to unconstitutional changes of government.

“The reasons for this are manifold, but it is not acceptable for the devolution of power to happen in such a way,’’ he said.

He, however, noted that the issue fell under the purview of the regional bloc, scheduled to meet soon.

“Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will soon organise a summit to be able to assess the situation in these countries.’’

Answering a question on the appeal from the ECOWAS parliament, urging the heads of state within their bloc to lift the sanctions imposed on Niger following the military coup in Niger Republic on July 26, he said he was not aware of that.

“I’m not well aware of the situation of the parliament on that, but it does fall under the regional organisation that is the ECOWAS.

ECOWAS Parliament had on Nov. 22 appealed to the Heads of State and Government in the region to lift the sanctions imposed on the Niger Republic.

The Heads of State in ECOWAS had in July imposed sanctions on the Niger Republic to protest the ouster of President Mohamed Bazoum by certain military officers led by erstwhile Presidential Guard Commander, General Abdourahamane Tchiani.

The Chief Whip of the Senate, Sen. Ali Ndume, who addressed journalists after the opening session of the parliament, declared that states in Nigeria, about seven of them bordering Niger Republic were at the receiving end of the sanctions.

Ndume said: “Children and women have been exposed to untold hardships. No meaningful progress has been made in resolving this issue.

“ We are appealing to ECOWAS states to lift the sanction and open the closed border between Niger and Nigeria because it is the poor that are suffering. Let me say this is a collective decision by concerned citizens.’’

Mahamat further attributed military coups in Africa to bad governance, saying, of course, the issue of governance was at the heart of coups.

“We’ve never denied that there is often the issue of governance that is behind these coups and situations that may evolve.

“I would recall that the African Union doesn’t generally take economic sanctions.

“Sanctions taken by the African Union entails suspending a country when there is unconstitutional transfer of power until order is restored so that country is suspended from all the African Union’s activities.

“Of course, we stand in solidarity with decisions taken by regional organisations following the principle of subsidiarity, they’re able to really appreciate what’s going on in this specific country,’’ he said.

The chairperson, however, noted that sanctions should be avoided  because of its negative impact on ordinary people and no impact on the perpetrators.

“So, this is part of the deterrents that there are  but I think this is something that is at the heart of the discussions that we’re having at the continental and regional level today,’’ he said.  (NAN)