Greater democratic rule vital to boost security in West Africa and the Sahel |

Khatir Mahamat Saleh Annadif presented the latest report of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) headed by him, which addresses developments over the past six months in areas such as politics, security, and security. and human rights.

Mr. Annadif highlighted some dichotomies over a wide area continuing “Evolving at different rhythms”. While citizens in some countries are free to exercise their right to vote, in others, “military stakeholders” are trying to dominate the political space.

“National dialogues are underway in many countries to strengthen democratic governance simultaneously across large swaths of the Sahel, men and women are leaving their lands,” he said. flee to safety and to ensure that their children can get an education.” .

‘No magic potion’

Addressing the insecurity, Mr. Annadif said the fact that extremist groups and criminals are no longer a secret to anyone. exploit weaknesses that have been exacerbated by often inappropriate State structures.

He reports that extreme violence is moving south and has gone from a phenomenon of isolated incidents to a real threat in coastal states. He cited the example of Togo, where a state of emergency was declared in the north.

“There is no magic potion that can effectively counter this insecurity problem,” Mr. Annadif said in French.

“Instead, what we need is democratic and accountable governance, including the establishment of decentralized administrative bodies. can provide solutions to the daily needs of the population while respecting the social contract on the participation and joint commitments between the Government and the people. ”

Dialogue and consensus

The special envoy said a number of countries are “successfully consolidating the foundations of democratic governance”, including Gambia and Senegal, which recently held local and legislative elections.

“Furthermore, there is a dialogue process in some countries. This creates a political consensus representing an opportunity to strengthen social cohesion“, he added, referring to Nigeria, ahead of elections scheduled for next year.

Annadif said the involvement of the United Nations and the regional bloc ECOWAS has also helped reduce political tensions in Sierra Leone, where elections are due in June.

He has also contacted transition authorities in Burkina Faso and Guinea, stressing the need to return to constitutional order as soon as possible.

Caught in bullets

Meanwhile, the military authorities are struggling to deal with the worsening security situation in the Sahel.

Mr. Annadif reported that as of May, the number of civilians victims of extreme violence in the central Sahel has surpassed the total for 2021.

“Civilians have been caught up in fighting between armed groups fighting for supremacy, as well as in counter-terrorism operations carried out by national defense and security forces,” he said.

“The information we all receive about the massacres of innocent and unarmed civilians, including women and children, convey the tragedy unfolding in this part of the world. ”

The violence has affected the humanitarian situation at a time when West Africa is experiencing an “unprecedented” food crisis. Across the so-called G5 Sahel countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – about 12.7 million people are facing food insecurity, up 45% from last year.

Protect the coastal states

Last month, Mali withdrew from the G5 Sahel and the Coalition Against Terrorism, and Annadif said there are now military redeployments that jeopardize security provisions.

UN officials continue to lobby with ECOWAS and other partners in support of the Accra Initiative, a 2017 plan to prevent unrest from spreading to coastal countries.

They are currently finalizing discussions towards establishing a secretariat and contributing to capacity building through the United Nations Office on Counterterrorism (UNOCT).

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