Using a combination of diplomacy and muscle, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) forced longtime Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to cede power this month to challenger Adama Barrow, who won the nation’s general election. Neighboring Senegal amassed troops and threatened to remove Jammeh by force. Regional powerhouse Nigeria threatened to help. The presidents of Mauritania and Guinea conducted shuttle diplomacy between Gambia’s capital of Banjul and Senegal, where Barrow had fled. Jammeh finally agreed to go into exile on January 20. Despite the successful outcome, some question the wisdom of ECOWAS intervening on behalf of the people of the Gambia.
Ezekiel Gebissa, a professor of history and African studies at Kettering University in Michigan, said that the military intervention is not something that should be replicated elsewhere. “If the reason for the intervention by ECOWAS in the Gambia is to save democracy and restore constitutional rule, then I think [it] would be counterproductive because a democracy that is imposed from outside by using military force cannot be an enduring democracy,” he said.
Sadiq Ibrahim, a member of the ECOWAS parliament and a lawmaker in Nigeria’s National Assembly, said that although the regional body must respect the sovereignty of each member nation, there are exceptions that demand direct action.
“If we have a situation that can threaten the security of a member nation and the entire region, the ECOWAS can collectively intervene to ensure peace in that country,” he said.
Full Article: Can ECOWAS Tactics in Gambia Serve as Model?.