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Gambia Extraordinary Session highest turn out —Barrow

Leader of the Gambia delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament, Kebba K.  Barrow has revealed that the last Extraordinary Session of the fourth legislature which ends today is the meeting with the highest attendance in the last twenty years.

According to Barrow, he has been in the Parliament since May 2018 and can confirm that this is the highest turnout as the deliberations were also on point.

He pointed out tin an interview that he was happy his country was given the opportunity to host the meeting as the commitment was very good and much focus paid on the work.

“We would see how the evaluation, which is the first of its kind in the last twenty years lifespan of the ECOWAS Parliament goes. I expect this large turn out to meetings in the fifth legislature and more focus on work”.

He called for a second look at the Supplementary Act which enhances their power and noted as said by President of the Gambia and the Speaker of ECOWAS that MPs represent the grass root people and it is important that they focus on their work.

“We would continue to advocate for the active participation of MPs to our meetings to ensure we represent our people effectively”, he said.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

ECOWAS Parliament mediates in Gambia emerging crisis

Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Rt. Hon. Mustapha Cisse Lo on Wednesday led a twelve (12) member delegation to the Gambian Presidency to pay a courtesy call on His Excellency President Adama Barrow.

The visit was primarily to thank him for hosting  the last extraordinary meeting of the Community Parliament,  and attending the opening ceremony. it was however,  an opportunity to brief  him on the activities of the Parliament in the Gambia.

Briefing journalists after more than an hour meeting at the Presidency, the Speaker Cisse Lo noted that they reported to the President on issues pertaining in the Parliament.

According to the Speaker, he briefed the President on his meeting with the opposition leader as there is emerging political tension in the country, but pointed out that there is the need for Gambia to have stability.

“President Adama Barrow gave us listening ear and took good note of the issues we brought to his attention; and it is my view that we undertake such visits and discuss with all parties, a country cannot develop without stability”.

He again pointed out that he has had discussions with the opposition leader on the emerging political situation in the Gambia.

Over the weekend there was demonstration by the opposition to call on President Barrow to step down based on a three year agreement despite the constitution giving him a five year mandate. Others also demonstrated calling for the return of Yahya Jammeh.

As to whether discussions with the opposition came up in their discussions, he responded in the affirmative, but was quick to point out that their discussion cannot be shared with the media.

“Again, we ask the leaders to comply with the country’s constitution and rules; we would meet with the party leader of former President Yahya Jammeh, the meeting was divided into two the President met the whole delegation and we both moved into in-camera”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

Speaker clashes with section of MPs

The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo has asked Members of Parliament who wish to go home from the Gambia, venue of the ongoing Extraordinary Session, to do so.

The Speaker made this declaration after most members of parliament learnt their voices to a motion by the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase which resulted in commotion.

Hon. Wase had insisted that the Session should be brought to an abrupt end on Wednesday, saying that the evaluation of the activities of the outgoing 4th Legislature, which according to him, formed the basis for the Extraordinary Session had already been concluded.

This resulted into a heated debate as other members sided with the Speaker, pointing out that some items in the program of event, were yet to be carried out.

They urged the parliamentarians to stick with the initial agenda set for the session rather than altering them.

At this point, the originator of the motion and Deputy Speaker of the Nigeria’s Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Wase, flared up, accusing Speaker Cisse Lo of going against what had been agreed upon at the Bureau level the previous night.

“Mr Speaker, we need to respect ourselves on the manner with which we go about this. You are talking as if we are dragging this because we want to just leave. Let’s go through the agenda. My country’s resources and other country’s resources are being used for this program. I believe at the bureau, we had the opportunity to sit down and analyze and take a decision before coming to plenary. I am a deputy speaker of my own country’s Parliament, I know how things are done”.

“When I met you with this suggestion yesterday, all of you agreed we should bring it up here today; only for you to come now and talk as if there was no agreement. Is that the way things are done? You don’t run parliament on this manner.  All those who are now supporting you were part of those who agreed to this position yesterday. Is it because we want to take money that we designed the program? This is public funds! You must design things in such a way that you justify public funding”.

During the back and forth for almost an hour, Speaker Cissé-Lo moved that Parliament go into a closed door session and resolve the issue.

Emerging from the closed door, the Speaker urged members with contentions about going through with all the activities initially lined up for the 7day period slated for the Extraordinary  Session, to go home if they so desire.

He, thereafter, beckoned on the Secretary General, John Azumah, who read out the outlined program of event to the parliamentarians.

The Extraordinary Session comes to an end on Thursday, the 30th of January, 2020 after an in-camera meeting that got the meeting back after a brief suspension.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

Gambia is championing the course of women—Majority Leader

Majority Leader of the Gambian National Assembly, Kebba K. Barrow has said the country is doing its best to empower women and champion their cause.

According to the Majority Leader, there are three elected females in the National Assembly out of the fifty-three membership of the House.

Out of the five representation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament in Abuja Nigeria, Fatoumatta Njai is the only female among the delegation in the fourth legislature, whiles the delegation has only one female in the yet to be sworn in fifth legislature.

He noted in an interview that the case of Gambia is a special case in the West African sub-region considering that there are only three elected females in the National Assembly and two appointed by government.

“What we are trying to do in the next legislature is for the political parties to come out with a policy that would ensure that at least thirty percent of their contestants are females. With that they secure the country to increase the number of female Parliamentarians in the National Assembly”.

Mr. Barrow revealed that out of the two remaining elected female MPs, one is represented at the Pan-African Parliament, whiles the remaining one with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

“We have given room to get more female Parliamentarians in our National Assembly, we are working on it, we would get there”, he said.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

Poor leadership resulted in lack of visibility of Parliament — Ayariga

A member of the Ghanaian delegation to the sub-regional Community Parliament, Mahama Ayariga has said poor leadership style of the outgoing Speaker Mustapha Cisse Lo resulted in lack of visibility of the fourth legislature.

He noted that the evaluation of a Parliament should include a Speaker and MPs and added that he joined the fourth legislature later by the time the Ghanaian elections were held for a delegation to be constituted; the Community Parliament was already running.

According to Ayariga he is disappointed in the function of the legislature and it is as a result of the fact that the Community Parliament has not been given the needed visibility despite the fact that it has a Supplementary Act that empowers it.

He further argued out in an interview on his assessment of the fourth legislature that ends next month that, debate was never encouraged in the fourth legislature on important sub-regional issues.

“Everything has always been about the Speaker, if we had a hanzard and you go through I am sure about ninety percent of the focus and the voice, would have been about the Speaker and not the MPs. It is quite unfortunate his tenure has ended”.

Mr. Mahama Ayariga was quick to point out that the fifth legislature should run properly and make good impression on ECOWAS citizens in terms of its debate concerning citizens of the sub-region and also holding Heads of States accountable.

In addition, hold the bodies and agencies with ECOWAS responsible, and up to their task, “I expect a better Parliament come February 2020 when we would be inaugurated”

“I expect the style of Parliamentary democracy from the Anglophone countries to have a positive impact on running of the legislature, as the fourth legislature might be influence by the Francophone way of running the legislature”.

He further pointed out that since the Anglophone derived their democracy from the United Kingdom, with the Speaker of the fifth legislature coming from Sierra Leon, he expect a more robust House.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

Speaker’s view should be respected if not the view of Parliament—Mahama

A member of the fourth legislature of the Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS), Mahama Ayariga has said outgoing Speaker Cisse Lo’s view on tenure of Heads of States within the sub-region should be respected.

According to the Ghanaian lawmaker who serves in the Community Parliament, as far as those views do not reflect the views of the lawmakers of the fourth legislature, he should be free to express those views.

His submission follows the Speaker’s comment at the ongoing extraordinary meeting in the Gambia where lawmakers disagreed with the view of the Speaker on two term limit for lawmakers in the sub-region.

“I have no problem with very stable political system to ensure that people who run political office stay in office for long, it has its own advantages and disadvantages”.

He noted that in a full functional Parliamentary system like the United Kingdom, some serve as Prime Minister for ten to twenty years depending on how hard the party works.

When people chose to adopt Republican constitutions, the Executive President is vested with too much power in one person and it become important for us to impose limits on those individuals as check and balance, he argued.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

Gambia opposition agrees to dialogue with government—Cisse Lo

Outgoing Speaker of the West African Community Parliament, Rt. Hon.  Mustapha Cisse Lo has said the opposition leader in the Gambia had agreed to have dialogue with the ruling Government under the leadership of President Adama Barrow.

According to the Speaker this was as a result of a long discussion he had with opposition leader on Monday the 27th of January 2020.

He made this revelation at a dinner hosted in his honor by the Speaker of the Gambian National Assembly, Rt. Hon Mariam Jack Denton.

Over the weekend, the Gambian police had to use tear gas and rubber-coated bullets to disperse thousands of protesters calling for President Adama Barrow to step down, as reported in the media.

The Speaker in an unprepared ten minutes speech thanked his colleague MPs in the Gambia National Assembly, Speaker, Government and people for their warm hospitality and generosity.

“ECOWAS Parliament did not make a mistake for choosing the Gambia for the extraordinary section, I am proud we made the correct choice, as friends of mine everywhere including MPs have helped me in this journey”.

He added that as politicians some people will go and others will come, and in all things there is the need to retain a good and healthy memories as some have worked to advance the course of the sub-region.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

Speaker of Gambia host ECOWAS Parliament to a dinner

Speaker of the Gambian National Assembly Rt. Hon. Mariam Jack Denton on Monday evening 27th January 2020 hosted the outgoing Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament Rt. Hon Mustapha Cisse Lo and Community lawmakers to a dinner.

This was at the commencement of the last extraordinary meeting of the fourth legislature in Banjul, Gambia, which would hold from the 27th to 31st of January 2020.

Majority Leader, K. K Barrow who represented the Speaker who is bereaved welcomed his colleagues to the dinner and revealed that, due to the country’s hospitality most people would love to come again.

“Already two people have decided to become citizens of the Gambia and the President has agreed to sign their papers to become citizens of the Gambia. Government is willing to host Parliamentarians and they should feel at home”, he added.

Again, he noted that the meeting is to prepare MPs for the fifth legislature and thanked the ECOWAS Parliament for choosing  Gambia.

Gifts from the Speaker of  the National Assembly of the Gambia were presented to the outgoing Speaker Cisse Lo and each country of the fifteen member states.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

Twenty Bills expected in first meeting of fourth session

Twenty Bills are expected to be presented at the first meeting of the fourth session of the seven Parliament which commences today.

They are the Affirmative Action Bill, 2019, Rent   (Amendment) Bill 2019, Community Water and Sanitation Agency Reform (Amendment) Bill 2019, and Ghana Petroleum Hub Development Corporation Bill, 2019.

At the committee level, there are seventeen Bills and  include Legal Profession (Amendment Bill), 2018, Intestate Succession Bill, 2018, Office of the Special  Prosecutor (Amendment) Bill 2019 with the Committee on Constitutional Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. The Ghana Communication Technology University Bill, 2019 is with the Committee on Education.

In a Press statement by the Director of Public Affairs Kate Addo, she noted that the meeting is expected to last nine weeks approximately where there would be a number of motions and debate on referrals at the committee.

President Nana Akufo-Addo is expected to deliver his last state of the Nation address for his first four years term mandate.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

ECOWAS MPs reject Speaker’s opinion of two term limit for heads of states

Outgoing Speaker of the fourth legislature of the Community Parliament, Mustapha Cisse Lo at the opening of the last extraordinary meeting in Gambia has said every country has a sovereign right to choose how it runs its government and there should not be interference from the ECOWAS Commission.

According to the Speaker, there are some countries where the mandate is not limited, and mentioned Cameroon as an example. He thus advised that such countries should be left to alter their constitutions based on their terms.

“All constitutions can be reviewed and adapted to fit the realities of their times; that is why I say ECOWAS cannot make any pronouncements to limit mandates to more than two terms. That is not for ECOWAS to determine”.

He however contradicted himself and said the tenure of Heads of States of West African States should be limited to two terms.

This drew a sharp reaction from the Community lawmakers who rejected the speakers view resulting in the Speaker making a sharp u turn and appologising to the lawmakers and retracted his earlier views.

He further pointed out that the Community lawmakers may not like his comments but these are issues that are springing up in the media, and he needed to give his opinion on them.

Speaker Cisse Lo in his address also thanked the good people of Gambia for  their support in hosting the extraordinary meeting  and sympathized with  the Speaker and a member of the Gambia delegation who were bereaved.

In addition, he  noted that he had engaged a team of experts to produce a detailed and complete report on the activities and performances of the fourth legislature under his tenure, which would be published in a form of a book and widely distributed.

“I would like to express my readiness to make my contribution whenever necessary to the continued construction of our regional integration, which cannot be consolidated without a strong respected Parliament”, he added.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul