ECOWAS sets 16TH January as Human Rights Day

Adoba Echono, Abuja

The ECOWAS Authority and Heads of Government have set aside the 16th of January ever year as the ECOWAS Human Rights Day.

This was part of decisions reached at the end fiftieth Ordinary Session of the West African leaders in Abuja, Nigeria.

The day is set aside to promote human rights and inclusive governance mainly with regards to women and youths.

“In order to promote human rights and inclusive governance mainly with regards to women and youths, the Authority decides to set aside 16th January every year as the ECOWAS Human Rights Day.”

The day was chosen by the leaders in the region as it marked the ascension to power of Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, as President of Liberia and first African Woman Head of State.

Mrs. Sirleaf is also the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.

Gambia Election

The Authority of Heads of State and Government in ECOWAS also  pledged to uphold the result of 1st December 2016 election in Republic of the Gambia and also guarantee the safety and protection of the President elects Mr. Adama Barrow.

The ECOWAS leaders also called on President Yahya Jemmeh to accept the result of the country’s presidential election which resulted in the election of Mr. Adama Barrow as the president elect of The Gambia or it will take all necessary actions to enforce the results of the election

This was part of 66 point communiqué at the end of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government summit in Abuja, Nigeria.

The leaders expressed worry over the political situation in The Gambia arising from the decision of President Jammeh to reject the results of the election after he had initially accepted and congratulated the new president elect before changing his mind based on corrections to the initial results by the Electoral Commission which according to them did not affect the outcome of the election.

“That all Heads of States will attend the inauguration of the President elect Adama Barrow who must be sworn in on 19th January in conformity with the Gambian constitution.”

“The Authority, calls on President Yahya Jammeh to accept the results of the polls and refrain from any action likely to compromise the transition and peaceful transfer of power to the President elect.”

The leaders also called on the government and the coalition parties to show restraint in order to preserve national unity in the Gambia as they also called on stakeholders within and outside The Gambia to exercise restraint, respect rule of law and ensure peaceful transfer of power.

The Gambian defence and security forces, according to the communiqué, must perform their role in a nationalistic manner and protect lives and property

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria was appointed as the mediator in the Gambia political crisis while John Dramani Mahama of Ghana will serve as the co-chair.

The ECOWAS leaders also requested the AU and the UN to endorse all decisions taken on the matter of The Gambia and also requested their support for the mediation efforts of ECOWAL including the provision of technical assistance.

Guinea Bissau

On the situation in Guinea-Bissau, the West African leaders reaffirmed their deep concern over the protracted political and institutional crisis in the country due to the inability of political stakeholders to reach a lasting consensual solution.

They said this undermined the implementation of commitments made by development partners since March 2015, to support the economic and social development of the country.

The Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government urged the President of Guinea Bissau to comply with the provisions of the Conakry Accord and called on all parties to strictly respect and comply with the tenets of the Accord.

The leaders reiterated the withdrawal of ECOMIB on June 2017 and directed the ECOWAS commission to commence the operations for the gradual withdrawal starting in the first quarter of 2017.

The Authority commended the smooth conduct of the presidential elections successful held in Cape Verde and Ghana which according to the leaders was an evidence of growing democracy in the region.

President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana was commended for conceding defeat and for congratulating the winner of the country’s Presidential election Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

The Ghanaian President, Mr. Mahama, who attended the meeting for the last time as the President Ghana, thanked the other leaders in the region for their support in the success of the Ghanaian elections on the 7th of December this year.

Eleven Presidents attended the meeting while four others sent representatives.

The next Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority  of Heads of State and Government will hold in Monrovia, Republic of Liberia, in May 2017.