The ECOWAS Parliament has called for the revision of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance to prohibit all forms of political manipulations by leaders in the region to hold on to power beyond constitutional limits.
The Parliament made the recommendation at the end of its High-level Seminar on “Two decades of Democratic Elections in ECOWAS Member States: Achievements, Challenges and the Way Forward” in Winneba, Ghana.
The recommendation was contained in the communique on the outcome of the Seminar which was read by Zargo Stephen a Member of Parliament from Liberia.
The recommendation for a revised protocol to prohibit tenure elongation is coming after the phenomenon has been seen to be the leading cause of the disruption of democratic rule in Mali and Guinea.
Members of parliament and Experts also recommended that for consolidation of Democracy and Good Governance, the process of the election of Member of the community Parliament should be by Direct Universal Suffrage.
To ensure consolidation of Democracy and Good Governance, they also recommended that “a study be conducted for the adoption of regional standards to govern electoral processes.
“Such as an effective independence of election management agencies, the partiality of courts that sits on electoral disputes, regulation of electoral campaigns, computerization of electoral registers and use of voters’ card.
“Compliance with the quota or gender equality system to enhance women’s representation in decision-making bodies, including the ECOWAS Parliament.
The Speaker of the Community Parliament, Dr.
Mohamed Sidie Tunis in his closing remarks called on member states of the Community to ensure that they include into their national laws provisions of the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
According to Dr.
Tunis, the Seminar provided an insight towards a better understanding of the legal, institutional, and material frameworks for conducting elections in Member States, adding that, “we were able to come to terms with the fact that, although there are shortcomings in our electoral systems, such shortcomings can be remedied by adopting best practices.
He added that: “We still believe that one of the best yardsticks for measuring democracy is the conduct of periodic elections that are considered credible through meeting best international practices.
” Furthermore, elections should necessarily provide good and inclusive governance.
He echoed the Community’s “strong faith in the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, and urge Member States to incorporate its relevant provisions into national legislations.
The Supplementary Protocol was developed in 2001 as an expression of a new, collective political resolve of ECOWAS member States to take the process of preventing and resolving crises and violent conflicts forward, and to achieve peace and security through the development of democracy and good governance.
Other recommendations at the of the seminar is on the role of Civil Societies and Non-State Actors in Elections, they cautioned Civil Societies, political parties and electoral candidates against disclosure of results before the body mandated to do so.
They also recognized the critical role of media during elections, with recommendations on how what they should do to ensure the conduct of credible elections.
They stressed the need for greater monitoring of social media during electoral periods and the repression of their abusive use in order to prevent any media misstep due to disinformation and the spread of fake news.
“Equal access to official media and public services by all electoral candidates to enable them know their programs and views to the electorates.
“Adoption of legal frameworks to guarantee press freedom and to compel media professionals to strict adherence of their ethics, capacity building for media professionals, sensitization of the populace”.
Taking cognisiance of the role of security services, they recommended that measures be adopted to guarantee the independence and neutrality of security services and their involvement as stake holders in the security process.
On the role of the judiciary, they recommended the consolidation of the independence and impartiality of the justice system by national parliaments through adequate legislations.
On the role of political parties, it was recommended that ECOWAS Member States institute a national dialogue framework to help unite political actors, democratic governance of political parties.
They said it is important that there is transparency in party financing, and separation of their resources and activities from that of government.
It was also recommended the strengthening and consolidation of election observation systems before, during and after elections.
This according to the recommendation can be achieved by improving the deployment strategies of observers, cooperation of various International and local observation missions and the quality of expertise of members of observation missions.
The outcome of the Seminar contained inputs from Members of Parliaments, the ECOWAS Commission, Experts and Stakeholders across relevant sectors.
ECOWAS Parliament recommends stringent Protocol against tenure elongation