Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin, Leader of Ghana’s delegation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, has condemned military coups that overthrow democratically elected leaders in the sub region. He said there should not be any rationale for the recent coups in the sub-region. ‘Not even the barbaric onslaught from jihadists and terrorist groups and the economic challenges of the various countries must be justified,’ he said. Mr Afenyo-Markin said this at the ECOWAS 5th Legislature Parliamentary seminar underway at Winneba in the Central Region, under the theme: ‘The Challenges of Unconstitutional Regime Change and Presidential Term Limits in West Africa: Role of the ECOWAS Parliament.’ The ECOWAS Parliament, which began on Friday, September 29 to Saturday, is scheduled to end on October 7, 2023, is the second time Ghana has hosted and it convenes twice a year. The ECOWAS Parliament, also known as the Community Parliament, is one of the Institutions of ECOWAS which is the Assembly of Peoples of the Community serving as a forum for dialogue, consultation, and consensus for Representatives of the people of West Africa with the aim of promoting integration. Established under Articles 6 and 13 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty of 1993, the initial Protocol establishing the Parliament was signed in Abuja on August 6, 1994. It provided for the Structure, Composition, Competence, and other matters relating to Parliament. The Parliament is composed of 115 seats, with each Member State having a guaranteed minimum of five seats while the remaining 40 seats shall be shared on the basis of population. With the need for a community mechanism to forge greater ties with the citizens of the West African Community serving as momentum towards the creation of the Community Parliament, it strengthens representative democracy in the Community. It is to contribute to the promotion of peace, security, and stability on the West African Region by informing and sensitising the population on issues of integration, promotion and defending principles of human rights, democracy, the rule of law, transparency, accountability, and good governance through the practices of accountability. It will also give the National Delegates the opportunity to present their country’s reports to inform the Body on unfolding developments in their respective Member States and the status of implementation of their community’s texts. Mr Afenyo-Markin, also the Deputy Majority Leader in Ghana’s Parliament said the recent resurgence of military coups threatened to drag Africa back to an era we they fought tirelessly to transcend. ‘We must firmly condemn the coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Chad, and Gabon, along with the hostilities in Sudan. ‘These actions are betrayals 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. Our golden age lies ahead of us, not in the shadows of the 1960s to 1980s,’ he said. According to him, it was under the shade of democracy that Africans could cultivate the progress they aspired adding, ‘it is here that we can construct the schools that will nurture the minds of our future leaders. It is here that we can build modern hospitals to heal our people, and foster technology to propel Africa into an era of supreme industrialization in the wake of the AfCFTA.’ ‘Together, we can construct robust and resilient economies that will position Africa as a formidable competitor on the global stage,’ he said. Addressing the theme for the seminar, Mr Afenyo-Markin said it was not just a call for reflection, but a clarion call for action as the sub-region found itself at a pivotal moment in history where the pillars of democracy were being called into question. Criticising the actions of leaders who unlawfully modify their constitutions to perpetuate their hold on power, he said it was a serious affront to the principles of democracy, which enshrined the fundamental rights of citizens to choose their leaders and to live under a government that was held accountable for its actions. ‘As we traverse this difficult period, we must remain vigilant, standing firm against the erosion of these principles and fighting to protect the sanctity of our democratic processes. ‘The answer to these acts of terror and economic challenges lied within our democratic institutions, standing as strongholds of hope and fortitude amidst the turmoil,’ he said. He, urged leaders to take inspiration from the late Mr Kofi Annan, a former United Nations General Secretary that, ‘though there is no one model of democracy, it is essential that the principles of democracy, human rights and freedoms are upheld universally, it gives a renewed commitment to enhance our democratic systems, making them more responsive to the needs and aspirations of every citizen, regardless of where they find themselves on the broad spectrum of society,’ he added. ‘Indeed, no form of governance has ever been perfect, yet history has proven time and again that democracy stands as the best option for nations seeking development in peace and harmony. Even in its imperfections, it carries within its structures the capacity to rise above the ills that afflict it, fostering environments where innovation, justice and freedom thrive. ‘It is incumbent upon us, the custodians of this sacred trust, to continually refine and enhance these structures, ensuring that they remain resilient in the face of the ever-changing challenges that our societies encounter,’ he stated. The decision for the this meeting was taken at the 2023 First Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Parliament in May this year in Abuja, convened under Article 21.1 of the Supplementary Act relating to the enhancement of the powers of the ECOWAS Parliament, which provided that Parliament should meet twice a year in Ordinary Sessions to provide a platform to deliberate and strengthen Member States’ position on issues of regional and continental importance. As provided for in Article 32 of the supplementary Act, the Session also provides the President of the ECOWAS Commission the opportunity to present a general report on the implementation of the Community Work Program to the Plenary where the House would be updated with developments in the Community, and usually followed by debates, expressed opinions as well as recommendations.
Source: Ghana News Agency