EU Admits Failure to Strengthen Democracy in the Sahel

Innoventia Africa – The European Union (EU) has admitted that it has failed to strengthen democracy in the Sahel, despite spending millions of euros in the region over the past ten years.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said that the EU’s efforts to train and support the security forces in Mali, Niger, and other Sahelian countries had not been enough to prevent a resurgence of military coups.

“When I do my sums, it shows me that over the past 10 years, we’ve spent over 600 million euros ($640 million) on civilian and military training missions in the Sahel,” Borrell said on Tuesday during a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.  

“It has not helped to consolidate the armed forces in their ability to support democratically elected governments,” he added.

Borrell’s comments come after a series of coups in the Sahel in recent years, including the most recent one in Niger in July 2023. The coup leaders in Niger have cut ties with France, their former colonial ruler, and have asked French troops to leave the West African country.

In June 2023, the EU adopted an assistance measure under the European Peace Facility worth €4.7 million to support the Nigerien Armed Forces with military equipment designed to deliver lethal force in full respect of relevant international law. 

The EU has been criticized for its handling of the crisis in the Sahel. Some critics have accused the EU of being too focused on security and not enough on development and civil society. Others have said that the EU has not done enough to address the root causes of instability in the region, such as poverty, climate change, and corruption.

The Sahel is a region in Africa that stretches across the southern edge of the Sahara desert. It is a vast and sparsely populated region, and it has been plagued by instability for many years. 

The region is home to a number of terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the The Islamic State Sahel Province (ISSP), formerly known as Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (IS-GS).  These groups have taken advantage of the region’s instability to operate and recruit new members.

The Sahel is also facing a number of other challenges, including drought, poverty, and climate change. These challenges are making it difficult for the region’s governments to provide basic services to their citizens and to maintain security.

The EU has also been criticized for its lack of transparency in its dealings with the Sahel.

It is clear that the EU needs to change its approach in the Sahel if it wants to be successful. Development, transparency, and good governance will lead to better living conditions, which is what the people need.

“Should we revise our Sahel policy? Well, yes, it’s absolutely right that we should have a more strategic approach and less tactical approach,” Borrell said.  

By Felix Tih

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