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.
Mr Jonathan was quoted as making the call in his remarks at a strategy meeting of the West African Elders Forum (WAEF) on Wednesday in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
In a statement by a spokesperson for the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF), Wealth Ominabo, the former president 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 antagonism between past leaders and serving leaders in some sub-region countries. 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.”
Mr Jonathan said the forum’s focus 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.
He explained that the activities surrounding elections could either mar or make nations’ development.
“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 poll’s outcome.
“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 a crisis.
“As elders, it is our responsibility to identify threats to the transition programmes in our sub-region and seek ways of proactively engaging relevant stakeholders toward resolving such challenges,” the former president stated.
Mr Jonathan also called on those in government to redouble their efforts and commitment to democracy by ensuring that democracy translates to better welfare for the people.
Also speaking, the executive director of GJF, Ann Iyonu, said it was imperative to raise awareness and develop a collective sense of urgency in addressing some of the current trends threatening the peace, stability, and democratic governance of West Africa.
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