By: Kebba AF Touray
The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Dr Sidie Mohamed Tunis, has called on political actors in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal to respect democratic process, as well as allow mediation efforts to continue and demonstrate respect for the rule of law.
Speaker Tunis made this call on Tuesday, 6 February 2024, while delivering an opening statement at the opening of the First Extraordinary Session of the Community Parley, currently underway in Sierra Leone, Freetown.
Delivering his remarks, he informed the august body that the Regional Bloc has noted with grave concern, recent developments across the sub-region, notably, the quest of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso to withdraw from ECOWAS and the unfolding political developments in Senegal.
“We have been in close contact with the President of the ECOWAS Commission and are exploring every possibility for Parliament’s swift intervention. Meanwhile, I wish to call on all political actors in these Member States to respect the democratic process, allow the mediation process to continue and demonstrate respect for the rule of law,” he said.
He also highlighted that despite the numerous achievements of the Fifth Legislature, which are captured in the report of the Legislature, they humbly acknowledge a list of challenges and unfinished businesses that will be passed on to the next legislature.
“Paramount amongst these are the sad reality of having Four Member States Delegation suspended and the inability to have Members of the ECOWAS Parliament elected by direct universal suffrage as at the end of the Fifth Legislature,” he said.
He expressed the opinion that the election by direct universal suffrage will confer strong democratic legitimacy on the ECOWAS Parliament and further strengthen its representative function.
The Fifth Legislature therefore, he said, has undertaken to initiate reflection on the modalities of this election and to advocate, raise awareness and mobilize in favor of this cause.
He assured the regional legislative body that consensus has emerged on the issue, and they hope that the commitment will become a reality in the years to come.
In doing so, he said, he is hopeful that this session will provide an opportunity not only to look back without complacency, but also and above all, to make recommendations to future legislatures with relevant and pragmatic proposals for the good of the people of West Africa.
Speaker Tunis said: “The ECOWAS Parliament today reflects the face of democratic representation in the region and continues to champion the values of the rule of law, human rights, good governance, and accountability, all built upon the achievements of the preceding Legislatures.”
He reported that the ECOWAS Parliament now has a stronger presence and increased visibility not just across the Community, but continentally and globally.
However, he lamented that in light of all their achievements, he stated without hesitation that the ECOWAS Parliament has been truly at the service of the Community.
“It has fulfilled its role and has been at the heart of action to deepen regional integration. We share a sense of pride in the work accomplished. But beyond this satisfaction, we are aware of the road ahead and the need to involve the ECOWAS Parliament more closely in our determined march towards a fully integrated region,” he added.
Speaker Tunis enjoined the incoming Members of the 6th Legislature to continue to pursue the dream of “a fully integrated Community of peoples in a peaceful and prosperous region with strong institutions that respect fundamental freedoms and work towards inclusive and sustainable development.”