UN: Democracy pushes forward in West Africa

Nigerian Army soldiers stand as part of preparations for deployment to Mali, at the Nigerian Army peacekeeping centre in Jaji, near Kaduna January 17, 2013. French troops launched their first ground assault against Islamist rebels in Mali on Wednesday in a broadening of their operation against battle-hardened al Qaeda-linked fighters who have resisted six days of air strikes. West African military chiefs said the French would soon be supported by around 2,000 troops from Nigeria, Chad, Niger and other regional powers - part a U.N.-mandated deployment which had been expected to start in September but was kick-started by the French intervention. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde (NIGERIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MILITARY)


Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, briefs the Security Council meeting on Peace consolidation in West Africa and the Sahel. (24 July 2019), by UN Photo/Loey Felipe

West Africa has been dogged by conflicts exacerbated by Boko Haram activities in Northern Nigeria and the battle for recognition of the Government for English speakers in Cameroon among other issues.

However, the United Nations’ Special Representative in the region on Wednesday said things are looking up. Mohammad Ibn Chambas reported that progress has been made in consolidating democracy in West Africa and the Sahel.

He cited successful elections and “political dialogues” as part of the advances made so far.

“In the past six months, presidential polls have taken place in Nigeria (23 February), Senegal (24 February) and Mauritania (22 June),” Mohammad Ibn Chambas, who also heads the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), told the Security Council.

Moreover, just this month in Liberia, “the government respected the people’s right to peaceful protests and agreed to begin a dialogue on strengthening the economy”, he affirmed.

Despite the advances, Chambas noted that pre-electoral and post-electoral periods “continue to be characterized by tensions, antagonistic contests and disputes, including around non-consensual constitutional amendments.

He said there is a need to address the question of development and inequality as potential sources of conflict.