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ECOWAS appoints Ghana’s President to champion universal suffrage campaign

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ECOWAS appoints Ghana’s President to champion universal suffrage campaign

By Lizzy Okoji

The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) appointed President Akufo-Addo of Ghana to defend his drive for direct election of members to parliament.

Dr Sidie Tunis, President of the ECOWAS Parliament, made the announcement during the high-level parliamentary seminar on 20 years of democratic elections in West Africa in Winneba, Ghana.

The Nigerian News Agency reports that the theme of the seminar is: Assessing two decades of democratic elections in the ECOWAS region: achievements, challenges and the way forward. “

Tunis said that one of the cardinal goals of the current legislature was to achieve the election of members of the ECOWAS Parliament by direct universal suffrage.

He noted that despite the restrictions and difficulties associated with carrying out normal activities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Parliament was able to initiate the process last year.

“Article 18 of the Additional Act provides that representatives are elected by direct universal suffrage by the citizens of the member states.

“It also provides for a transitional period during which the national assemblies of the Member States or their equivalent institutions or bodies will elect these representatives.

“Due to our firm attachment to this cause, we had the greatest honor to appoint His Excellency Mohamaddou Issoufou, former President of the Republic of Niger.

“(And) former President of the ECOWAS Heads of State Authority as the leader of the roadmap for direct elections of members of the ECOWAS Parliament.

We have also appointed His Excellency Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, former President of the ECOWAS Commission and former Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa, as Advocate in Deputy Head.

“I have the most distinguished honor to ask Your Excellency, President a Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to kindly accept to serve as champion for the realization of the direct election of the members of the Parliament of ECOWAS.

“This request is based on the strong support we have received from Your Excellency and we sincerely anticipate that you will again graciously honor our request.

“We also believe that with the advocacy of His Excellency Issoufou Mahammadou and His Excellency Dr Ibn Chambas combined with Your Excellency as champion, our goals are almost achieved,” said Tunis.

reports that the parliament had previously set up an ad hoc committee to propose mechanisms to make effective the election of its members by direct universal suffrage.

On January 18, Parliament adopted the report of this committee during its second ordinary 2020 session, which was held by videoconference from January 13 to 19.

In its report, the ad hoc committee recalled the fundamental principles of elections which must be free, transparent and fair.

Aware of the fact that all the texts of Parliament advocate the election of community deputies by direct universal suffrage, the committee recommends ending the dual mandate of members of the ECOWAS Parliament and guaranteeing the representativeness of the community parliament.

The committee proposes two methods of voting for this purpose.

Community elections could be organized as is the case in the European Union; each member state elects community deputies in accordance with national electoral laws.

Another possibility will be to have community elections governed by a common electoral system.

The ad hoc committee recommends that Parliament do everything in its power to achieve the election of its members by direct universal suffrage before the end of the fifth legislature (March 2024).

The ad hoc committee also proposed an ongoing study on the election of representatives by direct universal suffrage; organize thematic meetings on specific areas such as fication, the electoral code, the code of conduct and the conditions to be fulfilled to participate in the elections.

The commission also recommends appointing a prominent community figure as a leader to lead the advocacy process; carry out consultations with the main institutional actors such as the Conference of Heads of State, the Council of Ministers, the Commission and the Court of Justice of ECOWAS.

The Committee should organize study visits to similar regional institutions to learn from their experiences and carry out advocacy activities with these institutions.

Source: NAN

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