The bloc of West African countries on Sunday elected the new Nigerian president to lead the economic community.
West African heads of state elected new Nigerian President Bola Tinubu on Sunday (July 9) to lead ECOWAS, their regional bloc, next year, replacing Guinea-Bissau’s leader Umaro Sissoco Embalo.
Speaking at a summit in Bissau after being named president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Bola Tinubu said democracy was “the best form of government” although it is “very difficult to govern”.
“We need it to be an example for the rest of Africa and the world,” he said.
“We will not allow coup after coup in West Africa,” he added. Three ECOWAS members (Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso) have suffered five coups since 2020.
Omar Alieu Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission, urged the juntas in these countries to respect the agreed deadlines for handing over power to civilian leaders.
“In the event that the time allotted for the transition fails, there could be heavy penalties,” he said.
On Saturday, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) agreed to lift the suspension of Mali from its bodies and institutions, and decided in January 2022 to sanction the junta’s intention to remain in power for several years.
ECOWAS had also imposed a number of measures against the Sahel state, but lifted them in July 2022 after the junta agreed to a transition in March 2024.
On Sunday, Omar Alieu Touray said ECOWAS had set up a commission to examine security options in Mali as the UN winds down its ten-year peacekeeping mission there. “This commission has 90 days to reflect and come up with proposals,” he said.
Mali has been in the grip of a deep security crisis since 2012, driven by jihadist and separatist or self-defense groups. Starting in the north, it spread to the center of the country and to the neighboring countries of Burkina Faso and Niger.
Bola Tinubu, who was sworn in as president of Africa’s largest economy in May, said ECOWAS members would pursue “inclusive” economic integration over the coming year.
“We should warn the exploiters that our people have suffered enough,” he said on Sunday. “I’m with you and Nigeria, we’re back.”