Ghana’s Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Alban Bagbin has charged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to take steps to avert future military interventions in member states.
The recent coup d’état in Guinea, Mali and other failed attempts in some ECOWAS member countries have raised questions.
Speaking at the second extraordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament being held in Winneba, Ghana on Monday, October 18, 2021, Hon. Alban Bagbin called for urgent measures to be taken to reverse the current political impasse in Mali and Guinea.
“…the people of the sub-region would expect the ECOWAS Parliament to initiate steps and contribute, not only towards reversing the current political impasse in Mali and Guinea, but also work towards discouraging any further military incursion, anywhere in the region,” he stated.
Alban Bagbin continued, “I commend you for the just concluded High Level Seminar on an Assessment of Two Decades of Democratic Elections in ECOWAS Member States. It is a step in the right direction. I hope that your outcome document is realistic, pragmatic and implementable and would be directed at the relevant stakeholders.”
Ghana’s Speaker of Parliament in his conclusion remarks, assured ECOWAS that Ghana will continue to be of immense support to its programmes and activities to ensure targets set are met.
Below is the full speech read by Alban Bagbin at the meeting:
SECOND EXTRAORDINARY SESSION OF THE ECOWAS PARLIAMENT
Winneba, 18-22 October, 2021
OPENING REMARKS BY THE SPEAKER OF THE PARLIAMENT OF GHANA
RIGHT HONOURABLE ALBAN KINGSFORD SUMANA BAGBIN
Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Rt. Hon. Dr. Sidie Mohamed Tunis.
Oma Odefe of Effutu and President of the Effutu Traditional Council, Neenyi Ghartey VII.
Hon. Ministers of State
Hon. Members of the ECOWAS Parliament
The Municipal Chief Executive
Distinguished Resource Persons
The Secretary-General and Staff of the ECOWAS Parliament
Ladies and gentlemen!
1. It is indeed my great pleasure to officially welcome Honorable Members of the ECOWAS Parliament and Distinguished Guests to Winneba, home of rich history and culture. On behalf of the Parliament of Ghana, I say AKWAABA. Ghana is always delighted to host any activity of the Community. A few months ago, we hosted the delocalized meeting here in Winneba and we are pleased to host the Community Parliament once again. I am optimistic that the zeal to return, reciprocates the good gestures towards ECOWAS Parliament.
2. It is pertinent to commend the exemplary leadership shown by the current Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Governments, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana. His undying passion and commitment to the economic integration and progress of the sub-region continues to lead the Community to the path of positive gains.
3. In the same vein, I am delighted by the zeal shown by the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Rt. Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis and the Leadership of the Fifth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament towards the attainment of the goals and objectives of the ECOWAS Parliament. Your determination to put the Sub region on an enviable pedestal is worthy of mention. I also extend the same encomiums to Members of this Parliament for your countless hours of hard work and dedication.
4. Hon Members, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen. I am reliably informed that the Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament which opens today is to mainly consider and adopt the draft budget of the Institution. Your recommendations will largely influence the budgetary implementation of the proposed programmes and activities of the Institution. I wish to emphasise that your programmes should alleviate the sufferings of the citizens and reduce their burdens in these trying times, especially those adversely impacted by the ravages of the COVID 19 pandemic. We must continue to address poverty in all its ramifications and create job opportunities for the people. We must also look for the best way to promote integration in the sub region. I therefore urge you to execute your work in the interest of the people and for the purpose of advancing the progress of the Community.
5. Hon. Members, let me use this opportunity to entreat you to work assiduously towards promoting democracy, good governance, peace and stability in the sub-region. ECOWAS is one of the most successful Regional Economic Communities. Recent elections in Cape Verde (after 2010 military coup), Ghana (from 2000 to 2020) and Nigeria (from 2003 to 2019) are examples of successes chalked. These gains have offered us the opportunity to promote peace building and better contain conflicts, bloodsheds, and other electoral violence in the sub-region.
6. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Members, Ladies and gentlemen, the democratic achievements in the sub-region were not achieved on a silver platter, but has been highly reinforced by ECOWAS instrumental establishment of Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) which facilitates work towards the harmonization of electoral standards as well as sharing experiences in the sub-region.
7. Additionally, the deployment of new technology in our elections such as the Biometric Verification Devices and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have enhanced the processes of conducting elections by way of reducing multiple registration and voting.
8. Hon. Members, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is important to state that the sub-region has no business with military interventions. As it stands today, two out of fifteen Member States are under military rule. This development has high reaching implications, not only for the political stability of the region, but for safety and security. Military rule is an aberration from democratic ideals. As we all know, it leads to the denial of fundamental human rights and individual liberty. We cannot afford to subject our citizens to the backwardness associated with military dictatorship. Those days should be gone and gone for good.
9. Given the above, the people of the sub-region would expect the ECOWAS Parliament to initiate steps and contribute, not only towards reversing the current political impasse in Mali and Guinea, but also work towards discouraging any further military incursion, anywhere in the region. I commend you for the just concluded High Level Seminar on an Assessment of Two Decades of Democratic Elections in ECOWAS Member States. It is a step in the right direction. I hope that your outcome document is realistic, pragmatic and implementable and would be directed at the relevant stakeholders.
10. Rt. Hon. Speaker, permit me to avail myself of this opportunity to add my voice to the current discourse on the future status of the ECOWAS Parliament. The ECOWAS Parliament has come a long way, having been established more than two decades ago. Until 2016, when the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government adopted the Supplementary Act on the Enhancement of Powers of Parliament, the mandate of the Institution was merely consultative and advisory. The Supplementary Act provided additional responsibilities, but we are still far from getting the ECOWAS Parliament on the path of a true legislature.
11. Thus, the ongoing discussion on electing Members at the regional level, through direct universal suffrage is not only relevant, but timely. This discourse is long overdue. The dialogue on this matter must seek the quickest way to bring it to fruition. I therefore wish to salute the courage of the leadership of this Parliament for this bold step. At this juncture, I would like to reiterate the support of Ghana’s Parliament to the ECOWAS Parliament in this regard.
12. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Members, despite the current limitation, I am happy to observe that the ECOWAS Parliament continuously strive to contribute positively to the implementation of the objectives and policies of the Community as enshrined in the Supplementary Act. I assure you that Ghana will continue to be of immense support to your programmes and activities.
13. Hon Members, whilst here in Ghana, please take time off to explore, visit interesting places and experience the rich culture and hospitality of the Ghanaian people.
I wish you fruitful deliberations and a pleasant stay. I hereby declare the Second Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament for 2021, duly open