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ECOWAS Says Regional Crises Undermine Democracy

West African leaders have been urged to address recent political developments in some member states that seek to undermine democracy and stability in the region.

Economic Community of West African States commission president Mohammed Ibn Chambas said at the one-day summit that the growing number of coups, political violence and drug trafficking represent a major threat to democracy in West Africa, one of the world poorest regions.

"Progress made in the restoration of peace in conflict countries and the installation of democracy in many countries stands the risk of being compromised or adversely affected by the resurgence of coup d'etats, political violence and the drug menace in some countries, giving a bad image of our region and consequently hindering regional stability,"

Leaders of the West African regional body ECOWAS said they were particularly worried about recent political developments in Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau and Niger.

Chambas says the 15-nation bloc is seeking what he called "full investigations" into the assassination of President Nino Vieira of Guinea Bissau.

"The cruelty of his death must make our community reject violence and impunity. And that is why ECOWAS in collaboration with the international community is determined to demand full investigations into the circumstances surrounding his death as well as that of the former chief of army staff and unfortunately again those of a presidential candidate and minister of interior along with a former minister of defense and his two aides so that such tragic events do not reoccur in our region and such acts do not go unpunished in our sub region," Chambas.

Unidentified soldiers shot dead the Mr. Vieira at his home in March, apparently in a reprisal attack for the killing of the armed forces chief of staff.

The mid-year summit looked at a number of other issues ranging from the impact of the global economic crisis to the adoption of a single currency for the region.

ECOWAS protocol calls for zero tolerance for power obtained or maintained by unconstitutional means.