Democratic transition remains a challenge to peace – WANEP

Accra, Feb. 26, GNA – Democratic transition remains a challenge to peace and stability in West Africa, Mr Chukwuemeka B. Eze, the Executive Director of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), has said.

According to him, it was estimated that more than 10,000 of the sub-region’s citizenry had lost their lives in political crises in the last decade.

‘Elections have been marred by spates of violence, with electoral periods often occasioning great fear for life and property among the populace,’ Mr Eze said on Thursday in Accra during a dissemination workshop.

The workshop was on a research entitled: ‘Institutional Capacities for the Implementation of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in West Africa: A Case Study of Ghana.’

‘Regrettably, a few leaders in the region continue to nurture the possibility of long-term rule even if that means manipulating and influencing constitutional changers to extend their stay in power beyond the limited term mandates in the constitutions.

‘Such practices are exacerbating the crisis of political stability, undermining governance and breeding extremist groups,’ he said.

Mr Eze cited the protracted secessionist conflict in the Casamance region of Senegal, the militant unrest in the Niger Delta of Nigeria, as well as the cruel and vicious cases of violent extremism such as Boko Haram, as worrying developments in the sub-region.

Dr Philip Attuquayefio of the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy, who spoke on the topic: ‘The Place of R2P in the current Peace and Security Environment in West Africa’ said it was the responsibility of a state to its own people to avert mass atrocity crimes.

He said it was also the responsibility of other states to assist those who lacked the capacity to protect its citizens.

Mr Peter Eilschow Olesen, the Deputy Head of the Danish Embassy, lauded WANEP for the timely production of the research.

Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso, an International Relations and Security Expert, who chaired a panel discussion on R2P, urged the National Peace Council to be proactive and rise up to the task of peace-building.

He said it must also come out with a national map which outlined conflict hot spots in the country so that R2P institutions would be guided by it.

Nana Asantewa Afadzinu, Executive Director, West Africa Civil Society Institute, said as part of the media’s role in promoting R2P implementation, it must uphold high standards in its reportage.

The workshop presented a unique opportunity to participants to share findings and recommendations from this research with key stakeholders relevant to the implementation of R2P in Ghana.

Findings from the study show that 57.10 per cent of Ghanaians are not aware of the R2P; whereas as three out of 10 institutions with the responsibility to protect citizens were not aware of the R2P concept.

The R2P is an international security and human rights norm to address the international community’s failure to prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

The project, which is supported by the Government of Denmark, is focused on the operationalisation of R2P in Ghana, specifically to examine the state of readiness of various actors in Ghana and other ECOWAS member states in the implementation of R2P.

It was conducted from March to July 2015 in five regions namely; Ashanti, Greater Accra, Northern, Volta and Western.

One hundred and twenty participants from each region took part in the survey giving a total of 600. Due to budgetary constraints, the research could not be undertaken in all 10 regions of the country.

The objective of the study includes identification of national mechanisms for implementing R2P and the synergy that exists between the various structures of the state and ECOWAS for effective protection of citizens. GNA

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