Former President Goodluck Jonathan has called for better collaboration among democratic actors, serving and past leaders in West Africa to address issues affecting the peaceful transfer of power in the region,
The Chairman of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) made the call on Wednesday at a strategy meeting of the West African Elders Forum (WAEF) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
Jonathan observed that the friction between incumbent presidents and their predecessors was not in the best interest of democracy.
“One grey area we have to look into is the observed antagonism between past leaders and serving leaders in some countries of the sub-region. This does not encourage the healthy practice of democracy.
“Also, in some of our countries, the democratic space appears to be shrinking. There is the need to figure out how to navigate through such challenge to grow democracy in West Africa and the rest of Africa.”
Jonathan said that the focus of the forum was preventive diplomacy and that the purpose of the strategy meeting was to see how best to engage with stakeholders in West Africa ahead of the forthcoming elections in some countries.
“As a forum, we believe so much in preventive diplomacy. `One of our objectives is to ensure that we shore up the democratic gains of our region by meaningfully engaging different stakeholders, in a pragmatic and responsible manner.
“Meetings like this, serve as an opportunity to review the gains, challenges, and threats to peace and democracy in our sub-region and help us strategize on how to meditate so that threats do not degenerate into conflicts.’’
Jonathan said, “as democrats, we believe elections are the cornerstone of democracy, and the activities surrounding the process could either make or mar the developmental aspirations of a nation.
“Election affords citizens the opportunity to have a say in their nation and gives them the opportunity to participate in the leadership recruitment process of their country.
“From recent events in Africa, we can draw a lesson on the relationship between peaceful elections, democratic sustenance, and national stability. This is why every process leading to the election is very important to the outcome of the poll.
“ In our sub-region, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Liberia have scheduled general elections next year, and, as we know, elections could serve as a major trigger for violence and instability in our continent.
“This is why it is important we closely monitor the electioneering processes in these countries and watch out for signs that may precipitate crisis.
“As elders, it is our responsibility to identify threats to the transition programs in our sub-region and seek ways of proactively engaging relevant stakeholders toward resolving such challenges.”
credit: PM News