At First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in 2023, ECOWAS Speaker lauds achievements of the regional parliament in 20 years in spite of quest to achieve its goal of being a full-fledged legislative body
Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis, has expressed concern about the proliferation of arms leading to terrorist activities in the Sahel, which has resulted in the killing of innocent people.
Noting that the pace at which the transitional processes were unfolding in Mali, Guinea and Guinea Bissau calls for concern, the Speaker disclosed that the parliament is closely monitoring events in Sierra Leone and Liberia ahead of the presidential and legislative elections in June and October, respectively.
Hon. Sidie expressed these concerns on Monday, 8th May 2023, at the opening ceremony of the 2023 First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja, Nigeria. He further pointed out that the Ordinary Session was convened pursuant to Article 21.1 of the Supplementary Act relating to the enhancement of powers of the ECOWAS parliament, which provides that parliament shall meet twice a year in Ordinary Session.
“I thank the government of Sierra Leone for its commitment to upholding the principles of democratic elections, and I also commend all stakeholders for being committed to the democratic process,” he applauded. The Speaker, however, added: “We are mindful that over 20 years since the inauguration of the First Legislature, the ECOWAS Parliament has not achieved its goal of being a full-fledged legislative body. Nonetheless, the august body can be very proud of its achievements”
Giving a report on the state of the community, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Alleu Touray, stated that the situation in the region remains worrisome. Nevertheless, he explained that they are deploying all resources to ensure stability, security and resilience in member-states.
He assured that they would continue to support Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea in transition for a normal return to constitutional order. He maintained that they would also continue to use elections in member-states both as a conflict prevention measure and support to democratisation process.
“We are deploying the necessary election assistance to our member-states that are going into elections. Recently, we sent fact-finding missions to Sierra Leone and Liberia to examine their preparedness for their elections and based on the findings of our missions, ECOWAS will provide its traditional support for the organization of their next elections,” he assured.
He said despite the inflationary pressures that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war, the economy of the region is resilient. He said according to the World Bank, the economics of the region has grown by 31%.
Delivering his solidarity speech, the President of the Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, started by explaining a brief history of ECOWAS and noted that the Community was established by the Lagos Treaty on 28th May 1975. He further explained that the current membership consists of fifteen member states in the West African sub-region, with the Revised Treaty of 1993, which replaced the 1975 founding Treaty as its fundamental chapter and the roadmap for the economic integration of the region.
“The main aims of the community are to promote co-operation and integration, leading to the establishment of an economic union in West Africa in order to raise the living standards of its peoples, and to maintain and enhance economic stability, foster relations among member states and contribute to the progress and development of the African continent,” he added.
The ECOWAS Court President further explained that the mandate of the court is to ensure the observance of law and justice, seized with the responsibility of settling disputes as it may be referred to in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty.
He stated the court has four mandates; as a Community Court with contentious and advisory jurisdictions, serves as Public Service Court, as an Arbitrary Tribunal, and Human Rights Court.
“Through the exercise of its role as a Human Rights Court, the court has contributed immensely to strengthening some of the underpinnings of democracy such as respect for human rights and the protection of freedom of expression by holding member states accountable for their International Treaty Obligations,” he said.
Justice Asante, however, highlighted a record 106 judgements it gave that hadn’t been enforced by member states, while another eleven (11) are outstanding against ECOWAS institutions. Expressing hope that the session will propose measures that will contribute to improving the level of enforcement of the decisions of the court through joint efforts for the benefit of the region, particularly its citizens who see the Community Court as the ultimate platform for improving their lives through collective actions.
He assured that the court would continue to discharge its mandate in support of the regional integration project, even though the enforcement of its judgments remains its Achilles heels.