ECOWAS Parliament calls for regional effort to tackle insecurity

By, Adoba Echono

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, has commenced its Second Ordinary Session for the year 2023, with a call for enhanced regional solidarity and self-reliance to address the challenges facing the region.

The plenary is also billed to debate on critical issues of regional economy, democracy and security.

In his opening remarks, the Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament Dr, Sidie Tunis, highlighted the importance of regional solidarity and cooperation in addressing the challenges faced by the region.

He emphasized the need for strong democratic institutions, respect for human rights, and the rule of law to ensure security and development.

Dr Tunis expressed confidence that the ECOWAS region was on the right track despite its numerous challenges,

The Speaker of the Community Parliament pointed to the recent successful Presidential and Legislative elections in the Republic of Liberia as a sign of progress.

“The people of Liberia have shown us that democracy is possible in our region, we can all learn from their example”, according to Dr Tunis.

Dr Tunis commended the people of Liberia for their commitment to democracy, following the recent successful presidential and legislative elections.

He also congratulated Ambassador Joseph Nyumah Boakai on his election as President of Liberia and extended warm congratulations to the incumbent President George Manneh Weah for graciously accepting the will of the people.

Expressing concern about the political situation in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Niger, the speaker urged for more to be done to address the issues.

He emphasized the need for ECOWAS to develop a new and ambitious mechanism for dealing with regional issues.

Dr Tunis noted that the region’s prosperity and security are inextricably linked to its members shared responsibility to look out for one another.

He said, “Only a foolish neighbour goes to bed when his neighbour’s roof is on fire,” Tunis said. “In a region of interconnected threats and challenges, we can only address our issues effectively through broad, deep, and sustained cooperation among States.”

Dr Tunis also called for greater self-reliance from ECOWAS member States.

He said that the region cannot rely on outside help to solve its problems.

“We need to be more self-reliant,” Tunis said. “Each Member State must take on more responsibility for the development and advancement of the ECOWAS region.”

Tunis also praised the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government for its leadership in sustaining peace and security in the West African region.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray, in his speech called for concrete actions to safeguard democracy and to restore the region as the bastion of democracy in Africa.

 

He noted that the coups in the Republic of Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea have created fears that democracy could be in danger in the region.

“We count on your wisdom to help in safeguarding the rights of our people and for the preservation of peace, security, and stability, which are necessary for our socio-economic development and regional integration process,” he said while addressing the parliament.

Dr Touray said, at the political level, ECOWAS was engaging in dialogue with the Member States in transition, namely Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea, in order to support them to return to normal constitutional order through the organisation of free, transparent and inclusive elections.

“As far as the Republic of Niger is concerned, we adhere to the guidance of the current Chairman of ECOWAS to resolve this crisis through dialogue and negotiation.

“On the security front, the region continues to suffer from attacks by armed groups and terrorists who seriously threaten the territorial integrity of Mali and Burkina Faso, resulting in loss of life, material damage and millions of displaced persons and refugees.

“In this regard, we continue to provide multifaceted support to help these countries face these challenges, despite the sanctions,” he noted.

The President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, called for urgent action to address the growing trend of military incursions into politics in West Africa.

Justice Asante expressed concern about the impact of these incursions on democracy and stability in the region.

“These incursions not only demonstrate a deficiency in our democratic culture but should challenge us to reflect on the trajectory of our democracy and ascertain whether it is imbued with the efficacy and capacity to deliver good governance that satisfy the socio-economic needs of our people,” he said.

Justice Asante urged the ECOWAS Parliament to provide leadership in addressing this issue and called for reforms to improve democratic systems in the region.

He also encouraged the Parliament to work with national parliaments to ensure the seamless enforcement of its decisions and to strengthen community law and respect for human rights.

“The implementation of these and other ancillary measures will go a long way in strengthening our democracy and ensure that it responds to the aspirations of our citizens,” he said.

President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria was represented by the Deputy Senate President of the Nigerian Senate, Jibril Barau.

 

The Second Ordinary Session is expected to provide a platform for in-depth discussions and actions aimed at strengthening ECOWAS integration and development.

Hauwa M.