From politicians violating human rights to repressive laws and downright violence, the civic space in many West African countries is shrinking even amidst rising advocacy. The August edition of the Situation Report captures some of the activities and key actions of civil society organisations (CSOs) in West Africa as well as strategies they are using to engage with key stakeholders and citizens.
In Guinea, for instance, there has been a wave of strikes led by the National Union of Workers of Guinea(UNTG) to a significant increase in the minimum wage; while women’s coalition in Cameroon has staged a sit-down protest calling for peace in the Anglophone regions of the country.
In other countries, there have been dialogues, workshops, and conferences through which civil society has advocated for responsible governance, justice, fair elections, and greater equality.
Still, electoral tensions conflated by political and economic instability in parts of the region has increased attempts by governments and security agents towards restricting dissent. In fact, civil society in Guinea is being threatened as the government bans demonstration amidst the ongoing fuel crises.
However, there have been sparks of positive developments within the region where women now have 36% of the seats in Guinean parliament, although civil society advocated for 40%. Furthermore, Presidents in Burkina Faso and Benin could have greater checks on their powers through new laws.
Despite these inconsistencies, the onus on civil society lies in bridging the gap between the duty bearers and right holders. Amidst intense opposition, there is a need for CSOs in the region to form strong alliances and build greater capacity to effectively navigate the rapidly changing civic space in West Africa.
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About the Civil Society Situation Report: This is a monthly synopsis of news articles compiled by WACSI on civil society and citizen engagement across West Africa. It serves as a tool to monitor specific trends and changes in the sector across the region.