OBJ, Kufuour task au, ecowas on Benin crisis

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By SEGUN AYINDE, ABEOKUTA

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Mr. John Kufuor, have urged the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to wade into the political crisis rocking the Republic of Benin.

The two African leaders, in a statement jointly signed and titled, ‘Statement on situation in Republic of Benin,’ made available by Mr. Kehinde Akinyemi, Special Assistant on Media to Chief Obasanjo in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, called for quick intervention to avoid the escalation of political crisis in the country.

The statement noted that the political crisis in the country is worsening, saying that if the AU and ECOWAS do not find a lasting solution to the crisis,  the situation might be hijacked by terrorists.

It added that if urgent steps were not taken, it could destabilise the peace in the West-African sub-region.

It urged the two bodies to put pressure on the  government of the Republic of Benin to take the bull by the horn, insisting that African leaders should not allow the present situation to further degenerate.

The statement said African leaders should task AU and ECOWAS to send strong delegations to President Talon to release his immediate predecessor for medical attention abroad as requested and lead the country toward achieving true and sustainable democracy.

The Five-paragraph statement reads in parts, “In the follow up to the parliamentary election that took place on April 28, 2019 which was considered to be exclusive for not accommodating the opposition parties in the electoral process, there is a general feeling of violation of the individual and collective liberties which has invariably culminated in the restrictions currently imposed on former President Boni Yayi and some other opposition leaders.

“Contrary to the general principle which stipulates that elections should be inclusive of all political stakeholders to ensure fairness, justice and equity, the prevailing situation in Benin appears not to be in line with the aforementioned.

“The crisis in Benin calls for urgent action by ECOWAS and AU to avert the escalation of the festering political unrest. We are of the view that all stakeholders should be carried along in the electoral process. In addition, the ongoing political crisis appears to be worsening the security and humanitarian situation which might open a floodgate to terrorist incursion that will lead to further destabilisation of the West-African sub-region.

“We, hereby, request the African political leadership to rise to their responsibility by urgently intervening with a view to putting pressure on the incumbent administration to play the games of democracy by the rules.

“Having observed with keen interest the present political development and with the fact that Benin is an active member of ECOWAS and AU, we are of the opinion that African leaders should not allow the present situation to deteriorate further.”

“We call on African Union and ECOWAS to send strong delegation to appeal to President Talon to release his immediate predecessor who needs medical attention abroad.

“ECOWAS and AU should take measures not to allow the situation to further deteriorate. Republic of Benin should be helped to ensure that true democracy is sustained.”