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ECOWAS Parliament needs full powers to make laws --- Opare Ansah

As the Community Parliament turns twenty years on Monday, November 16, 2020, a former Ghanaian lawmaker Fredrick Opare Ansah, who served two terms, in the third and fourth Legislature has pointed out that, the ECOWAS Parliament should get to a point where it assumes full powers to make laws.

According to him the Community Parliament has done the best it could under the circumstances it finds itself, but wished it would have been at a different place at this time.

And recounted that, in the third Community Parliament of which he was part, then Speaker Rt. Honorable Dr Ike Ekweremadu did a lot of work to get the powers of the parliament enhanced.

Unfortunately, at the beginning of the fourth Legislature there was an attempt at enhancement, but what came out was clearly a very, “whittled down enhancement” of what the parliament was fighting for. 

He further noted in an interview that, at the inception of the ECOWAS Parliament, the protocol that established it envisaged that it would exist for some time, and during that period it would move from the initial advisory and consultative body to assume a co-decision status like its counterpart, “Council of Ministers of ECOWAS”.

And said beyond that, it would become a full Legislative House. “Currently, we have Council of Ministers and Authority of Heads of States promulgating laws for the region and not MPs, and in my view is not the best practice”.   
Mr. Opare Ansah expressed worry by pointing out that, the West African sub-regional Community parliament has been over taken unfortunately by the East African Legislative Assembly body (EALA).

“They currently get their members by electing them directly, and they are not members of any National Assembly from their home countries, and the parliament has legislative powers on specific areas, these are what we should be seeing in ECOWAS”.  

Again, he pointed out that the issue of trans-border movement should be left in the hands of the Community Parliament and the ECOWAS Commission to manage and not individual nations, as individual nations should ensure their security, but the passage of civilians across the borders should not be left in the hands of the individual states to manage, rather the Parliament and Commission, he emphasized.

“I want to see an ECOWAS Parliament that moves away from the current, just expression of opinion in the matter of the budget of the Community and any matters referred to its attention. And even there is a caveat that if they do not express their opinion for a certain period it would be assumed that they have expressed their opinion”. 

He pointed out that, the supposed enhancement of the powers of the ECOWAS Parliament, is no enhancement as they can be dispense with by the Commission and Authority of Heads of States, and  still go ahead  to do what they want to do, “Parliament should be properly empowered”, he stated. 

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/

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