Tuesday 19 September 2023

UNGA: Tinubu, Biden condemn coups, insist on democracy

President Bola Tinubu and United States President Joe Biden have condemned the spate of military coups in Africa describing them as wrong and unreflective of the 
collective aspirations of Africans.
Tinubu, in his maiden at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA on Tuesday, also warned against dictatorial civilian government.
“We must affirm democratic governance as the best guarantor of the sovereign will and well-being of the people. Military coups are wrong, as is any tilted civilian political arrangement that perpetuates injustice,” Tinubu said.
In 2023 alone, military forces in Niger and Gabon overthrew the democratically-elected governments of Mohamed Bazzoum and Ali Bongo, respectively.
The Nigerian leader argued that “the wave crossing parts of Africa does not demonstrate favour towards coups. It is a demand for solutions to perennial problems.
Regarding Niger, Tinubu said the Economic Community of West African States was still negotiating with the military leaders.
He said “As Chairman of ECOWAS, I seek to help re-establish democratic governance in a manner that addresses the political and economic challenges confronting that nation, including the violent extremists who seek to foment instability in our region.
“I extend a hand of friendship to all who genuinely support this mission.”
On the protracted battle against violent extremists, the President lamented that the phenomenon had created “a dark channel of inhumane commerce.”.He said “Along the route, everything is for sale. Men, women, and children are seen as chattel. Yet, thousands risk the Sahara’s hot sand and the Mediterranean’s cold depths in search of a better life.
“At the same time, mercenaries and extremists with their lethal weapons and vile ideologies invade our region from the north.”
Tinubu argued that the harmful traffic undermined the peace and stability of an entire region.
Consequently “African nations will improve our economies so that our people do not risk their lives to sweep the floors and streets of other nations.
“We also shall devote ourselves to disbanding extremist groups on our turf.”
However, he called on the international community to strengthen its commitment to arrest the flow of arms and violent people into West Africa.
Similarly, he harped on the need to secure Africa’s mineral-rich areas from pilfering and conflict saying “Many such areas have become catacombs of misery and exploitation.”
“The Democratic Republic of the Congo has suffered this for decades, despite the strong UN presence there. The world economy owes the DRC much but gives her very little.
“The mayhem visited on resource-rich areas does not respect national boundaries. Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso, CAR, the list grows.
“The problems also knock on Nigeria’s door. Foreign entities abetted by local criminals who aspire to be petty warlords have drafted thousands of people into servitude to illegally mine gold and other resources. Billions of dollars meant to improve the nation now fuel violent enterprises,” he noted.
The Nigerian leader warned that if left unchecked, these activities would threaten peace and place national security at grave risk.
He said that given the extent of injustice and the high stakes involved, many Africans are asking whether this phenomenon is by accident or by design.
Therefore, “Member nations must reply by working with us to deter their firms and nationals from this 21st-century pillage of the continent’s riches,” he called.
Meanwhile, the United States President, Biden, has condemned the unconstitutional takeover of government in West and Central Africa while reiterating his country’s unwavering support for democracy across the globe.
Delivering his remarks before the 78th United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Biden expressed support for the actions taken by the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States to pressurize the military junta in Niger Republic to restore constitutional order and reinstate the ousted President.
Niger’s ousted President, Mohamed Bazoum, was removed by a military junta on July 26, 2023, in a coup that has been roundly condemned by the United Nations, US, United Kingdom, African Union, ECOWAS, and France, among other key international stakeholders.
ECOWAS had ordered a standby army to prepare to use force to restore democracy in Niger after several failed talks with the junta.
During his remarks, President Biden backed the AU, ECOWAS, and other regional bodies working to protect democracy while assuring the world that democracy remained the best tool for countries to better meet the challenges facing humanity today.
He said, “We convened the Summit for Democracy to strengthen democratic institutions, root out corruption, and reject political violence. And at this moment where democratically elected governments have been toppled in quick succession in Western and Central Africa, we’re reminded this work is as urgent and important as ever.
“We stand with the African Union and ECOWAS and other regional bodies to support constitutional rule. We will not retreat from the values that make us strong. we will defend democracy, our best tool to meet the challenges that we face around the world and we are working to show how democracy is delivering in ways that matter to people’s lives.”
President Bola Tinubu had recently said he was the one stopping the ECOWAS from deploying soldiers in Niger in tandem with the regional bloc’s declaration to use force, among other options, to restore democracy in Niger.
Tinubu had said this while recently hosting the US Presidential Envoy and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Molly Phee, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He had delivered to Tinubu an invitation from Biden for a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
The Niger coup is expected to form part of the critical topics of discussions by the two leaders.
President Biden also spoke about climate change and its devastating impacts as well as Artificial Intelligence urging that the emerging technology should be galvanised by nations for the good and protection of the citizens.
The US leader also condemned the Russian war in Ukraine and rallied global support for the Ukranian people.
He also pushed for the expansion of the United Nations Security Council with the injection of fresh permanent and non-permanent members.
Biden wants global institutions to be more responsive to the plight of its members, particularly the developing nations battling poor income and poverty.
He said, “The US is working across the board to make global institutions more responsive. For example, we have taken significant steps to scale up the World Bank, expanding its financing to lower middle-income countries so it could help boost progress for meeting sustainable development goals and better address interconnected challenges like climate change and fragility.”
Biden said he had last month asked the US Congress for ‘additional funds to expand the World Bank financing by $25bn’ adding that the G20 is also expected to rally bigger economies of the world to mobilise more funding for the global bank ‘so that we can collectively deliver the transformational boost to world Bank lending.’

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