The Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, and President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo has attributed the major reason for political instability in West Africa to power elongation by leaders.
He therefore cautioned incumbent leaders in ECOWAS member states against holding on to power beyond the stipulated mandate as provided in their country’s constitution.
President Akufo-Addo made the call during the opening of the High-level Parliamentary Seminar organized by the ECOWAS Parliament in Winneba, Ghana with the theme “Two Decades of Democratic Elections in ECOWAS Member States: Achievements, Challenges, and the Way Forward”.
He urged the regional Parliament to collaborate with the ECOWAS Commission to ensure the swift review of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and good governance in the region.
“Good governance should and must imperatively exclude political maneuvers to maintain power beyond constitutional requirements.”
“Let us all be aware that beyond that, the marriage between the elected and the electorate becomes forced, the environment becomes toxic, the mandates become queried.
“The Heads of State and Government authorized the ECOWAS Commission to take steps towards the urgent review of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and good governance to take accounts of contemporary developments.
“I also call on you Members of Parliaments to contribute to the process of this review. I welcome this decision and hope that the review will be swift and pointed,” Akufo-Addo said.
According to him, the seminar was coming at the right time following the political situation in Mali and Guinea.
The two countries recently experienced coup d’etat following tenure elongation by their Presidents.
In the same vein, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Dr. Sidie Tunis cautioned incumbent ECOWAS Presidents against amending their constitutions to push for tenure elongation.
He cautioned that if firm and decisive actions were not taken urgently against the ugly trend, ECOWAS would become a failed state.
“Amending a constitution to conform to current realities is not in itself a problem.
“However, when the proposed amendments to the constitution protect the governing elites at the expense of citizens or will undermine the very nature of Constitutional democracy.
“Thereby granting the incumbent undue advantage to extend his mandate, then we have a problem.
“The truth is, this practice is eroding the gains we have made as a community, sinking the region into more chaos, and creating a serious reputational risk for ECOWAS as an Institution.
“If we do not take firm and very decisive actions against this ugly trend, ECOWAS will not only be perceived as a body of failed States but will indeed fail,” Dr. Tunis warned.
Dr Tunis urged Parliamentarians to take advantage of the Seminar and discussions that may ensue, and drive forward thinking actions for a peaceful and prosperous region and Africa as a continent.
The High-Level Parliamentary Seminar of the ECOWAS Parliament seeks to appraise the electoral systems in Member States to identify the challenges for possible solutions.
Reporting by Idara Ukpanyang; editing by Daniel Adejo