The United States remains gravely concerned by democratic backsliding across West Africa and the Sahel and supports the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, or UNOWAS, and its role in preventing and mitigating conflict, addressing election-related crises, and promoting dialogue in the region, said U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood, Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs at the United Nations.
The United States recognizes the efforts of UNOWAS to help promote and sustain democratic elections in Sierra Leone, said Ambassador Wood:
“Though we are concerned by the lack of transparency in the tabulation process for the June 24, 2023, general elections in Sierra Leone, and irregularities in the election results announced by the Electoral Commission, we applaud the people of Sierra Leone for participating in the elections, which play a vital role in any democracy.”
“We reiterate our support to transition processes in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea and continue to call for a return to democratic governance,” declared Ambassador Wood. Transition governments must be held accountable for returning their nations to constitutional order in a timely manner, and for promoting stability in the region, he added.
In Mali, the transition government needs to hold accountable those responsible for the killings in Moura, said Ambassador Wood:
“We reiterate our call on the transition government in Mali to pursue an independent, impartial, efficient, comprehensive, and transparent investigation to hold accountable those responsible for the civilian killings in Moura, Mali, consistent with the recommendation in the relevant May 2023 UN human rights report.”
The United States remains “deeply concerned by the spread of instability in coastal West Africa, both from national political dynamics and the proximity of violent extremism in the Sahel. The growing threats have cost thousands of lives and contributed to displacement across the region,” noted Ambassador Wood.
“We cannot ignore the fact that the Wagner Group is committing human rights abuses and endangering the safety and security of civilians, peacekeepers, and UN personnel,” said Ambassador Wood:
“They are obstructing the work of UN peacekeepers and not only failing to address the immediate violent extremist threat, but contributing to the likelihood it will grow.”
Security Council members need to reinvigorate their engagement with African partners in addressing the cross-border threats to peace and democratic development in West Africa and the Sahel.