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ECOWAS chair briefed by Speaker on effort to directly elect lawmakers

Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Rt. Honorable Sidie Mohamed Tunis has assured chairman of the Authority of Heads of States and Government of the Community, H. E. Mahamadou Issoufou of plans being on course to directly elect lawmakers through universal adult suffrage. 

According to him, the sixteen member Ad hoc Committee set up to draw a road map to directly elect Community lawmakers chaired by the First Deputy Speaker Idris Wase is yet to meet due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It is important to be able to lead this mission to seek your wise counsel and guidance and report same to the committee”.

The Speaker who is on a working visit arrived in Niamey, Niger on Saturday and gave this assurance to the ECOWAS Chair on Monday, August 10, 2020 on efforts made so far by fifth Community Parliament.

Rt. Honorable Tunis recall his discussion with President Issoufou that during the inaugural session of the 5th Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament, he addressed the issue of election of community representatives by direct universal suffrage, and quoted the Niger President as saying that, "In order to strengthen your role in the ECOWAS region, we must fast-track your election by Direct Universal Suffrage. This will give more powers to our Regional Parliament."

Furthermore, Speaker Tunis recall that Protocol A / P2 / 8/94 of 6 August 1994, relating to the Community Parliament, stipulates in its Article 7 that: “i) Representatives and their alternates shall be elected by direct universal suffrage by citizens of Member States.

ii) Pending the time Members of Parliament are elected by direct universal suffrage, the National Assemblies of Member States or their equivalent institutions or organs shall elect such members from amongst themselves.
The duration of the transitional period shall be determined by the Authority.”

In addition, the ECOWAS Parliament Speaker added that the same provision is repeated by Article 18 of the Supplementary Act relating to the enhancement of the powers of Parliament. Undoubtedly, he said, “the Parliament has been operational for 20 years and has regularly renewed the mandate of its Members.”

He further noted that the advantage of having elected representatives is for them to fully be available to the Community Parliament will easily “help strengthen the rapport between elected representatives and citizens. The election by direct universal suffrage would also give a new legitimacy devoid of any partisan influence based on the direct link with the voters”, he added.

Speaker Tunis was accompanied by the President of the National Assembly of Niger, Ousseini Tinni, and he expressed condolences on behalf of the ECOWAS Parliament to the Head of State and to the Nigerien people for the terrorist attack carried out on Sunday, August 9, 2020 in the Kouré area, some 80km east of Niamey, which killed eight people, including six French aid workers and two Nigerians.

Speaker of the Community Parliament and chair of the Authority of Heads of States and Government discussed, socio-political situation in Mali, announcing that, in the coming days, the ECOWAS Parliament will send a delegation to that country to 'study the ways and means to restore peace and security".

Other topics such as the ECO, the future single currency of ECOWAS, were also discussed by the two personalities.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ 

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