The Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Professor Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, has advocated the exclusion of leaders who come to office through coup d'etats from contesting in transitional elections.
He said since the various ECOWAS protocols effectively affirmed the ballot box as the only legitimate avenue to political power in the region, there was the need to discourage people who used force to gain power.
He was speaking at a seminar jointly organised by the ECOWAS-CDD-Ghana and the Department of Political Science of the University of Ghana, Legon as part of activities marking the celebration of Ghana's golden jubilee anniversary.
The programme provided a platform for participants to reflect on issues critical to the realisation of the goals of African liberation in the areas of economic independence, regional and continental unity as well as democratic governance.
Prof Gyimah-Boadi said if this suggestion was too much to ask, then the ECOWAS must insist that an incumbent government of this nature must not exclusively preside over a transitional election.
“Transition elections must be supervised by a multi-stakeholder committee, which may include but not be dominated by the incumbent administration and should be under the supervision of the ECOWAS,” he said.
He further called on the ECOWAS to pay some attention to the gross abuse of incumbency for electoral advantage, a factor that unfairly handicapped the opposition such as blocking their access to funds and the media, the deployment of the state bureaucracy to persecute opposition figures, among others.
Prof Gyimah-Boadi said given the widespread public scepticism about the integrity of the criminal prosecution system and the tendency to politicise criminal trials, ECOWAS must push for the separation of justice ministries from the office of the Attorney General, and the establishment of the office of the special prosecutor.
In a speech read on his behalf, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, said beyond the continental arena, the challenge of integration was more compelling in West Africa, adding that right from 1975 political leaders saw the need to establish ECOWAS to facilitate economic co-operation, integration and development.
“We have incorporated the objectives of achieving peace, security, stability, democracy and good governance in our agenda. The reason is simple. We realised early enough that without peace, and stability, there can be no economic progress,” he said.
The Dean of faculty of Social Studies of the University of Ghana, Legon, Prof Atsu Ayee, who chaired the function, called for a leadership committed to be at the helm of African integration efforts, adding that without such leaders “our integrated efforts would not succeed.”
Story by Timothy Gobah