Auniversity teacher, Prof. Amadu Sesay, has called on Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders to employ tact to convince Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger to return.

Sesay, former head of International Relations at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, said those countries can be approached by seasoned diplomats to retrace their steps.

The don, author of The Politics of Regional Integration in West Africa, said by lifting sanctions, which it imposed on the three for military takeovers, ECOWAS put paid to the threat of use of force being used to compel them to return to civilian rule.

Sesay, told reporters yesterday that  emphasis has shifted to the search for diplomatic solutions leading to an acceptable resolution.

He urged ECOWAS leaders to look for credible emissaries to drive diplomatic engagements acceptable to all.

Sesay said: “I hope ECOWAS will look within its Committee of the Wise to choose those to drive diplomatic engagements to provide pathways for return of the three.

“This is a delicate and time-consuming endeavour.The outcomes are also unpredictable, and no one should expect quick fixes because ECOWAS is made up of sovereign states. It has no supranational powers as European Union.

“Tact and patience are of utmost importance, especially at this stage of engagements.

“We should remember that the three countries made it clear they had taken sovereign decisions, which implies that national ego, pride, and prestige are already at stake.”

He said ECOWAS leaders’ decision to lift sanctions, even when the three had yet to make concessions, especially on their threat to quit ECOWAS, was “right and realistic.”

Sesay, however, said the decision also implied a sign of weakness on the part of ECOWAS and a tacit admission that it had not achieved the results, as well as their negative fallout on all sides.

“ECOWAS is not a supranational body, it cannot compel compliance with its decisions as Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso actions demonstrated.

“What lifting of sanctions also implies is that the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, once the backbone of ECOWAS’ strategy, is no longer realistic.

“Neither is it enforceable in the political and socio-economic conditions in member states and in the region.

“It remains to be seen how ECOWAS will fill the gap to promot democracy and good governance after that.

“I hope the action will not lead to dramatic democratic and governance reversals in the region,” he said.

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