Saturday, January 21, 2017

ECOWAS Proves That Peace Without War Is Possible.

Yahya Jammeh - former president of The Gambia
The ECOWAS has not just scored when it comes to finding a peaceful solution to a very difficult political problem, it has also showed to the West, especially UK and the USA, that peace can be reached without war. In succeeding to peacefully get for mer president Yahya Jammeh out of the The Gambian Presidency, the ECOWAS for the first time, shows what it can achieve in a stroke of ingenuity.

In the recent past, in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Ivory Coast, the West had intervened and claimed to solve the problem only to make it worse. Not only because they dont understand the local and cultural context but because in their know-it-all approach, they ignore and refuse to work with those at the centre of the issues. This has always led to worse outcomes for the concerned impasse.

This is not to say that external intervention is not welcomed; in fact, at any time more than ever, it is essential that across the world, we all should care and strive to solve whatever issue affects our world together in whichever part it occurs. And with globalization now a core part of our world, meaning that our world is more intertwined and connected physically and digitally more closely than ever, we must care; whether we are the West, ECOWAS, EU or The Americas. We must work together and 'intervene'.
In The Gambia's recent political stalemate after the election, it is significant to note that while the ECOWAS threatened war, it ran a much stronger peaceful approach in parallel and only used military intervention as a bargaining chip. Cleverly, it continued the dialogue and providing the needed support to the people of The Gambia for them to be able to peaceful challenge their president, Jammeh. This is a peace model that the muscular West can learn from.

It was Adama Barrow, the winner of the election, it was The Gambians in Senegal who provided the space; it was them that planned and swore-in the president elect even if that was outside of the country. And for the ECOWAS, it was simply to follow behind with gentle, transparent and unflattering support. That is examplary in a world where in recent times, war has become the only solution.

Along that, the ECOWAS sent in different dialogue team from every critical side without diluting the power of any of these, while maintaining their stand openly. Deadline after deadline came and gone and yet not initiating war as threatened was rather poignant. By constantly keeping the 'enemy' within sight and continuing the dialogue, the ECOWAS was able to maintain the line of communication ensuring that their position is clear. A break-down in communication is not usually useful in peace-making. The ECOWAS displayed this awareness with as special wisdom.

Today, two days than supposed, Yahya Jammeh has relinquished power and is leaving into exile. Adama Barrow, the new president can now move back and take charge. No bullet has been shot let alone bombs dropped. No life has been lost or blood spilled, and no properties has been destroyed. How cool.

As much as it'd be great to prosecute Jammeh for allegations against him, it is rather much more important that peace reigns so to create an environment where justice could be easily pursued while limiting chaos and destruction.

Mr Adama Barrow in responding to the exiting president, he is right to accept that he should go into exile so as to ensure the climate does not descend into chaos. Sometimes, we must balance our choices of peace, justice and war. However, it must be hoped that this man's escape does not create a climate of disregard for the rule of law and justice.

It is obvious that the discussion will continue in the ECOWAS in supporting The Gambia to move forward and work out whether prosecution of the outgoing president would be in the best interest of the majority in the country. A better truce could be reached including confiscation of illegally acquired wealth and finding answers to the many victims who were caught in the oppressive nets of Mr Jammeh.

But above all, the ECOWAS deserves to be praised. I think the UK and USA should look towards the ECOWAS for lessons in peace-making in a tensive political situation, especially one involving a dictator. Because as against the constantly blurted argument by many UK current politicians, that war is the only way, the ECOWAS has proved otherwise: that war is not necessary and that letting the owners of the problem devise their solutions while providing them transparent support is the game changer.

Thank you ECOWAS!

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