Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, has said the recent rise in coups in African countries is fueled by the failure of the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union to condemn recurrent corrupt elections on the continent.
In a Twitter Spaces conversation hosted by The Punch on Monday, Odinkalu stated that the regional bodies had failed to recognise that elections had been brought to disrepute in Africa.
According to him, this had made Africans to see coups as a means to get rid of leaders who rigged themselves into power.
Odinkalu said, “The ECOWAS has a Good Governance Protocol. The AU has the Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. All of those have standards on governance. But the first thing is that they do have standards on elections.
“Democratic elections are supposed to be the fundamental basis for the legitimacy of government. The Treaty that establishes the AU says that the Union will condemn unconstitutional changes in government. But they define unconstitutional changes in government only as the overthrow by the military of a government that claims legitimacy, or the overthrow of the government by mercenaries. What they have not done is to recognise that elections have been brought into disrepute in Africa by the Heads of States themselves.
“Increasingly, elections are becoming laughable processes by which authoritarian regimes and dictators procure their own continuance in power. Many of the outcomes of elections don’t reflect the will of the people and when they happen, the AU, ECOWAS and other bodies all sign off on them as okay. People have become scandalised as a result.
“Because the regional economic communities have failed to condemn the bastardisation of elections, the people have made their own choices, saying if you are not going to condemn elections, then don’t disturb us if and when we get rid of these people by any means necessary.”