By Lizzy Okoji
Members of the ECOWAS Parliament have called for urgent actions from the Community’s institutions to stop the distortions of democratic rule in Member States.
The Members of Parliament made the call on Wednesday, at a technical session of the ongoing High-level Parliamentary seminar in Winneba, Ghana.
The parliamentary seminar with the theme, “Two decades of democratic elections in ECOWAS Member States: Achievements, Challenges and the Way Forward”, seeks to proffer solutions to electoral inconsistencies in Member States.
Hon. Ladi Ayamba, a Member of Parliament from Ghana, who lamented the situation, said ECOWAS has solutions to the problems, but needs to have the political will to take affirmative actions, pointing at the situations in Mali and Guinea that could have been averted if ECOWAS was proactive.
“To me, it was a shame that ECOWAS went to Guinea for mediation, when an action could have been taken when the people opposed the change of constitution, which led to the coup d’état.
“ECOWAS had every opportunity before the situation escalated, but treated the situation as very simple, and then it became a big problem.
“It is about time ECOWAS sits up and takes actions, before situations become problems,”Ayamba said.
Similarly, Hon. Fatoumata Njai, representing Banjul South, the Gambia, lamented the recent incidences of Coup d’état in Mali and Guinea, expressing fears that it may soon become a norm in other Member States.
Njali said it was important for ECOWAS bodies to act now that the problem is “domestic” before ECOWAS begins to solicit international interventions.
“We thought Coup d’état was a thing of the past but, unfortunately, it is becoming a trend.
“First, it was the unlawful amendment of constitution in Mali, then Guinea, then Cote d’ Ivoire, and we know what is happening in my country, the Gambia.
“We beg you not to sleep and turn a blind eye to this, stop it now before it becomes too late,”Njai said.
Prof. Dakas Dakas, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Expert at the seminar, also reiterated the need for proactive actions, especially in countries where there are already threats of constitutional alterations.
Dakas said that laws must be put in place by the regional institutions to stop amendments of constitutions by Presidents, who want to remain longer in power.
“ECOWAS needs to be more proactive instead of a fire brigade approach.
“It is clear that there is room for improvements, and it is obvious that there is enough work to be done in proactive engagements.
“It is important that a diversity of mechanisms are put in place and commitments are made to advancing the cause of democracy in the sub-region,”Dakas said. (NAN)