In response to the resurgent military coups in parts of Africa, former President Goodluck Jonathan will join other stakeholders and dignitaries from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, and the United Nations in Abuja for a retreat to address and prevent unconstitutional changes of government in Africa.
This important event, the Second Annual Retreat for Special Envoys and High Officials representing Regional Economic Communities (RECs) on Constitutional Transitions and Unconstitutional Changes of Governments, is organized by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) in collaboration with ECOWAS.
Notable dignitaries expected to attend the event include former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Yusuf Maitama Tuggar; AU High Representative for Silencing the Guns, Amb. Mohamed ibn Chambas; and the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, Ambassador Abdel-Fatau Musah, as well as the Secretary General of International IDEA, Dr. Kevin Casas-Zamora; Ambassador Plomp, Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS; Ambassador Esther Loeffen; amongst others.
Scheduled for October 24-25, 2023, this significant gathering will take place at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja, Nigeria, under the theme: “Institutionalizing Inclusive Democracy in Constitutional Transitions in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States.”
Amid the complex geopolitical landscape of the West African region, which has witnessed a resurgence of coups and governance changes, this retreat will provide a vital platform for tackling these pressing issues. It aims to foster profound discussions and the exchange of knowledge and strategies to advance democracy in the West African and Sahel regions.
Since 2020, African countries have increasingly faced a rise in the number of constitutional transitions, some of them caused by military and civilian coups, popular uprisings, transitions assisted by armed forces, constitutional reform processes after the election of a new President, or within the framework of a new political settlement after conflict.
A media advisory released by the Communications Officer of the Africa and West Asia Programme, International IDEA, Mr. Sami Ahmed, and made available to the media on Monday, highlighted that these crises and subsequent transitions are often reactions to years of authoritarian rule, state neglect or insecurity, poor governance, lack of accountability, or weaknesses in social contracts between the state and powerful ruling elites on one hand, and citizens on the other.
The statement noted that to address these challenges and their consequences, International IDEA, and the RECs have been developing and operationalizing a regional initiative to support inclusive constitutional transitions since January 2022.
This initiative aligns with the International IDEA Strategy, aiming to support the consolidation of democracy and peace in countries by strengthening the technical and operational capacities of democratic institutions and promoting inclusive governance processes.
The statement further explained: “It is against this backdrop that International IDEA is organizing the Second Annual Retreat for RECs Special Envoys and High Officials on Unconstitutional Changes of Government and Constitutional Transitions, with the participation of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Development Coordinator for the Sahel. The focus is on how to institutionalize inclusive democracy in constitutional transitions in fragile and conflict-affected states.”
The event is expected to feature distinguished dignitaries from Nigeria, ECOWAS, and various parts of Africa, who will share valuable insights and experiences.
International IDEA, established in 1995 as an intergovernmental organization, is dedicated to promoting sustainable democracy worldwide. The organization specializes in policy-friendly research and analysis related to elections, parliaments, constitutions, digitalization, climate change, inclusion, and political representation, all aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.