West African leaders have been urged to refrain from manipulating and influencing constitutional changes to extend their stay in power beyond the limited term mandated.
This practice, according to Dr Emmanuel Bombande, an international peace scholar and practitioner, is exacerbating the crisis of political stability and undermining good governance in the region.
Speaking at a symposium in Sunyani, on Monday, the former Executive Director of the West African Network for Peace, a non-governmental organisation, noted that term limits remain accelerators for political violence on the continent.
The symposium was organised to mark the international day of peace by the Brong-Ahafo Regional Peace Council in collaboration with the Regional Coordinating Council, and attended by security agencies, traditional rulers and other key actors in peace building.
Dr Bombande noted that threats confronting especially West Africa have been unprecedented, as the environment of insecurity for the entire region remains pervasive since the start of the Liberian civil war in December 1989, and all through the 1990s to 2000 with a high potential of destabilising the entire region.
He observed that the region is still grappling and recovering from devastating effects of violent conflicts in Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and the Niger Delta in Nigeria.
According to him, West Africa remained unstable with insecure borders coupled with issues relating to socio-economic problems, youth unemployment, systematic ethnic discrimination, and non-respect in some countries of human rights, disputes over political participation and land and other natural resource allocation.
“Deep seated resentments are still embedded in the fabric of societies across West Africa considering social, economic and political inequalities,” he added.
In addition to these challenges, Dr Bombande said new and emerging threats of violent extremism had become manifest and spreading since violence engulfed Libya in 2011.
"Interconnected with violence extremism is the increase in the trade and trafficking of illicit drugs and money laundering as well as the impact of climate change and the management and exploitation of natural resources is adding a strain to the peace and security environment in the region," he said.
Notwithstanding these security challenges, the international peace builder noted that West Africa offers the best practice in the concept of partnerships for peace.
Dr Bombande said the leadership of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) ought to re-strategise and integrate development with peace and security to facilitate regional integration.
He pointed out that the UN Security Council is increasingly incapacitated in collective efforts and consensus building to adopt resolutions towards resolving major conflicts.
“Meanwhile, five members of the UN Security Council, which have veto power over all UN resolutions, are also the top weapons dealers in the world, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Russia,” Dr Bombande added.
Mr Eric Opoku, the Regional Minister, emphasised that there could not be meaningful, lasting and sustainable development in the absence of peace.
He said of all the conflicts and disputes that confront the region, chieftaincy and land dispute constituted the majority of them.
He said at the end of 2012, 54 cases of chieftaincy disputes were pending before court.
Despite these, Mr Opoku said, the Regional Security Council, in collaboration with the Regional Peace Council had successfully mediated several disputes with the significant ones being section of Muslim community and the SDA church at Atebubu, and the protracted chieftaincy disputes at Nsoatre and Tuobodom.
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