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ECOWAS boycott IPU activities after humiliation of its Speaker

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament has decided to boycott activities of the Inter-Parliamentary-Union (IPU), after it humiliated Speaker Mustapha Cisse Lo at its 140 meet at Qatar Doha last month. 

ECOWAS Parliament reached this decision on Wednesday May 8, 2019 as it started its First Ordinary session for the year. 

The issue was raise on the floor of the House in Abuja Nigeria when the House was going through adoption of draft programme of activities for the community Parliament for the second semesters of the year.
    
ECOWAS Parliament which has observer status with the world legislative body, IPU was to adopt the decision to either attend the upcoming IPU 141st meeting in Belgrade Serbia slated for October 13 to 17, 2019 or not. 

After Secretary General of the Community Parliament, John Azumah announced the coming event, Speaker Mustapha Cisse Lo noted that he would want to consult the plenary on the matter. 

“I do not see the point of sending a delegation to the IPU, because the IPU does not appreciate the leadership of the sub-regional community Parliament, if you go to the IPU just as a tourist I do not think it is right. I am expressing my disagreement for the third time as Speaker”.

According to the Speaker, he went to Doha but came back disappointed and suggested that IPU activities be put on hold for this year. 

He further pointed out that when he lives office then maybe the people from the secretariat might want to take it up. He then put the question: “Do you agree?” and added that it was for open debate.

The Speaker recounted that he led a delegation to Geneva for  same IPU meeting and the delegation did not have a place in the hall; I came back and reported to you in “my first year, I do want to go there any longer”.

“I have a duty to tell you we are wasting money for nothing, that money for ticket to Doha could have been used on other activities where the voice of the Parliament would be heard, the cost of the ticket let us think about it. Doha ticket is three million CAF and you go there to fold your arms as an observer”. 

The Speaker further noted that the decision is his as to who to send, but when the time comes he would fold his arms, and added when he leaves as Speaker Sierra Leone will take over, and they should decide otherwise.  

“I am a trader, I cannot put my money into something that I would not get profit, when I put my money into something I should profit from it so I want to ask that this activity be dropped for this year”.

 Mr. Edwin M. Snowe Junior disagreed with the Speaker, pointing out that individual countries have representation at IPU, so the community parliament can only have an observer status. 

He further urged the Speaker to engage the IPU by letting the Secretary General John Azumah write to IPU and “respectfully Mr. Speaker let us maintain our relations with the IPU”. 
 
Other contributors agreed with the position of the Speaker and pointed out that “you cannot be invited, we should be given that respect, otherwise we should put our resources into other activities like Parliamentary visit”. 

At the end of the back and forth debate on the issue, two MPs argued for further engagement with the world parliamentary body while two other MPs supported the boycott of activities of the IPU.

Speaker Mustapha Cisse Lo said, “I refuse yesterday and today and I say no to IPU. When I am leaving I will recommend it to my successor not to go to IPU meetings because you will be humiliated there”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com

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