A ten day High-level Parliamentary Seminar of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament has opened in the coastal town of Winneba in the Central of the republic of Ghana with a call on members to speak up against attempts by elected Africa heads of state to extend their tenures in office against dictates of their constitutions.
President of the republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who made the call when he openned the seminar thanked the ECOWAS Parliament for the choice of Ghana.
He acknowledged that the sub-region is faced with several socio-economic difficulties that requires action to address them.
Mr Akufo-Addo also observed that democracy in West Africa is in dander, and is faced with three threads including coup detats and terrorism in all forms.
The president challenged ECOWAS Parliament to speak against the increase of terms by some leaders on the continent which sometimes trigger military takeovers.
The Ghanaian leader assured of the readiness if the Heads of States and Government to work with recommendations of the seminar at the end of the exercise.
Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Rt Hon Dr Sidie Mohamed TUNIS expressed gratitude to the people of Ghana for the warmth reception for the second time in two years in support of the regional integration agenda.
According to him, the seminar is in response to the current military take overs of democratically elected governments that is gradually undermining the hard worn democratic gains on the continent.
The seminar he said will help identify the causative agents of coups and how the ECOWAS Parliament can help consolidate democratic gains on the continent.
He urged the need for all to embrace democracy as a essential commodity and be willing to denounce those who frown of constitutional provisions in the sub-region.
Dr Siddie admonished the ECOWAS Parliament to take charge and be sensitive to the needs of young people in the West African sub-region.
He disclosed that, the community parliament is currently working with relevant stakeholders for the establishment of the ECOWAS Youth Parliament to help archive the goals of ECOWAS.
Yesmeen Abubakar Tetteh,Top news parliamentary correspondent who was present at the comference reported, that the Leader of Ghana’s delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament and Member of Parliament for Effutu, Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin in a welcome message said the sub-region finds itself at a time its democracy has been shaken therefore the gathering provides an opportunity not just for reflection but a call to action.
“The Critical Role of the ECOWAS Parliament”, is not just a call for reflection, but
a clarion call for action. We find ourselves at a pivotal moment in history where the pillars of democracy are being challenged and shaken, but we must stand resolute” he stated.
Mr Afenyo-Markin who is also the Majority leader in Ghana’s Parliament condemned recent coup detats on the Africa continent describing them as betrayal of democratic principles.
“We must firmly CONDEMN the coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Chad, and Gabon, along with the hostilities in Sudan. These actions are a betrayal of the democratic principles we hold dear,and we demand a swift return to constitutional rule. We must affirm, unequivocally, that regression is not the solution.
The High-level ECOWAS Parliamentary seminar is being held on the theme: “The Challenges of Unconstitutional Regime Change And The Presidential Term Limits In West Africa: The Role of The ECOWAS Parliament”.
Dignitaries expected to present papers on the broader theme of the seminar include Former President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Commissioner, Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Dr Abdul Fatau Musah and Dean, University of Ghana Law School, Prof Raymond Atuguba.
The retiring Secretary General of the ECOWAS Parliament, John Azumah was honoured for his selfless meritorious service to the people of the sub-region.