ECOWAS Parliament decries coups, tenure elongation

Adoba Echono, Abuja

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The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, has lamented the spate of coups and manipulation of constitution to achieve tenure elongation by some West African leaders.

The Speaker of the Community Parliament, Dr Sidie Mohammed Tunis, expressed this concern in his opening address at the ongoing high-level parliamentary seminar on 20 years of democratic elections in West Africa in Ghana’s coastal city of Winneba.

Speaking on the Theme “Evaluating Two Decades Of Democratic Elections In The ECOWAS Region: Achievements, Challenges And The Way Forward”, Dr Tunis warned that the community risked being perceived as a body of failed states over rising coups, tenure elongations and undemocratic constitutional amendments.

Dr Tunis spoke against the backdrop of the recent coup in Guinea, where Colonel Mamady Doumbouya sacked the civilian government of Alpha Conde in a military coup on September 5, and took over power in the bauxite-rich nation.

The deposed Conde had last year amended the country’s constitution to extend his tenure after he had served the constitutional required two terms in office.

Also, last year, Colonel Assimi Goita, led his troops to depose the government of Boubakar Keita in Mali and took power in a coup.

He has since assumed the position of an interim President of the country and set in motion a transition process that appears not to inspire confidence.

In Ivory Coast, President Allasane Outarra, last year amended his country’s constitution to enable him get tenure elongation after he served out his constitutionally required two- terms in office.

“Amending a constitution to conform to current realities is not in itself a problem.”

“When the proposed amendments to the constitution protect the governing elite at the expense of citizens or will undermine the very nature of constitutional democracy, thereby granting an incumbent undue advantage to extend his mandate, then we have a problem,” the Speaker of the Community Parliament noted.

Dr Tunis said that while governments in the region condemn coups, he noted that it is important that they give serious attention to the new phenomenon of amending the constitution of a state before an election or before the expiration of the tenure of an incumbent President.

Hauwa Mustapha

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