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Malian Head of State grant audience to section of ECOWAS MPs

Delegations of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, and lawmakers were granted audience on Sunday, November 15, 2020 by Malian Head of State, Bah N’Daw who visited Bissau the capital of Guinea Bissau.

The MPs were in Bissau as part of a delocalized meeting of the parliament, as they congratulated him as the choice of Malian to lead the transition of that country.

In the absence of the Speaker Tunis, the MPs seized the opportunity to offer the Parliament’s condolences on the passing of Malians former Presidents Moussa Traore and Amadou Toumani Toure.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the Community Parliament Rt. Honorable Sidie Mohamed Tunis will travel to Mali in January or February next year for a working and friendship visit. During this trip he would formerly present condolences of the Parliament to the people of Mali.

The Malian Head of State thanked the delegation from the Community Parliament for showing solidarity and compassion and reminded them of the process of building institutions leading to a general election in less than eighteen months.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Future NDC government will not maintain MOPA—Yieleh Chireh

Member of Parliament for Wa West, Joseph Yieleh Chireh has said as a matter of policy advice, a future National Democratic Congress (NDC) government would not maintain the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.

According to him as at the time Africa Union (AU) carried out the Africa Peer Review Mechanism at one point, they came out that, existence of MOPA means the Executive arm of government was exerting its authority over Parliament.

“But, Parliament is supposed to be independent; they advice us not to create it, I still think that for the position there should be a Minister, but not to be a Majority Leader and a Minister as he is now the one who lays papers on behalf of Ministers, and also create an impression that the Ministry plays an oversight of Parliament”.

The Former Local Government and Rural Development Minister, in an interview at a program organised by MOPA for religious bodies and National Media Commission on the theme, “Towards elections in December 2020: The perspective of the National Media Commission and Religious Leader”, praised the Ministry for doing extremely well by engaging various stakeholders in a national dialogue.

He further added that issues like moneytisation of Ghana’s politics had been discussed and the fact that, Parliament is losing experience lawmakers,  and in addition bring security agencies and religious leaders together to talk is a lot of achievement.

However, he pointed out that, ideally it was not the responsibility of MOPA to be engaged in all these activities, rather the Ministry of Information, but it has been reduced to government propaganda wing.

And MOPA should have been complementing the Information Ministry and not the other way round, he said.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

AU and ECOWAS Commissions embark on pre-election mission to Ghana

A high-level joint delegation from the African Union Commission and the ECOWAS Commission has visited Ghana, November 15 to 17, 2020 to engage key stakeholders in the upcoming election process.

Of particularly interest would include key institutions involved in the process; political parties and representative of civil society organizations as well as the Electoral Commission.

President of the Commission Jean Claude Kassi Brou, led the delegation and had Madam Minata Samate Cessouma Commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union, General Francis Behanzin Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the ECOWAS Commission and Ambassador Baba Gana Wakil, ECOWAS resident representative in Ghana.

Whilst in Ghana, the mission seized the opportunity to extend their condolences of both institutions to the Government and people of Ghana, in particular to the family of the late former President Jerry John Rawlings who recently passed on.

The mission called on Ghana’s Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchawy who thanked both institutions for their timely conduct of joint mission and assured them of the commitment of the Government to ensure peaceful, free, fair credible and transparent elections on December 7, 2020.

Additionally, the mission held consultations with key stakeholders including the Minister of National Security, Interior, the Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC) and representatives of major political parties and met with group of African Ambassadors, Board of the National Peace Council (NPC) and some representative of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).

The joint mission took note of progress and assurance by the EC on the preparation towards the conduct of credible, free, fair and transparent elections and urged the EC to continue working closely with all stakeholders for an inclusive process, whilst ensuring that adequate measures are put in place for the strict adherence to the protocols on COVID-19 pandemic during the elections.

In a joint statement the mission urged authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure violence-free elections, and expressed satisfaction on the passing of the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019, by the Ghana’s Parliament and the signing of code of conduct on the eradication of political vigilantism in Ghana, under the auspices of the National Peace Council.

On security the mission commended government on measures put in place to ensure peaceful conduct of elections, and further encouraged all stakeholders to resort to the use of dialogue as a mechanism to addressing all differences and disputes on issues relating to the elections.

The joint mission reiterated the support of ECOWAS and African Union and assured the stakeholders that both institutions would deploy election observer missions to support the ongoing process.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

ECOWAS Parliament pays last respect to late colleague, Ablom Johnson

Members of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) Parliament paid their last respect to their deceased colleague, Ablom Johnson on Friday in Lome, the Republic of Togo.

At a ceremony hosted by the Togolese National Assembly at their complex, the lawmakers led by the Speaker Rt. Honorable Sidie Mohammed Tunis, joined members of Togo’s National Assembly and other Government officials to bid farewell to the late Johnson.

Members of Parliament who are in Lome for a delocalised meeting of a joint committee were greeted with the sad news of the demise of the lawmaker.

Mr. Abloom Johnson, who died earlier this week, was the third Vice President of the Togolese Parliament.

In an interview after the official funeral ceremony with journalists, Speaker Tunis said that he led members to the funeral to honour their colleague whom he described as a man of the people.

He said that although it is an unfortunate event, the presence of Parliament for a delocalised meeting in Togo, presented an ample opportunity to physically commiserate with the family of their late ‘brother’, Johnson.

“It is always a sad event to lose a loved one. Ablom was not just a member of ECOWAS Parliament, he was also a brother. So now that we are in Lome, Togo and this unfortunate incidence has happened, we believe it is our responsibility as members of ECOWAS Parliament to participate fully in the funeral arrangements”.

Even if we were not here in Lome, we were still going to send a delegation to Togo to pay tribute to the family and console them, he indicated.

He further added that their presence there, is a manifestation of expressing sorrow to the bereaved family and expressed their condolences on behalf of the ECOWAS Parliament.

He described the late lawmaker as a man who was down to earth and who respected everybody: his colleagues and staff.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

ECOWAS Parliament needs full time MPs — Opare Ansah

A member of Ghana’s representative to the third and fourth Community Parliament, Fredrick Opare- Ansah has said it is time to get full time lawmakers for the Community Parliament and end the current part time system.

According to him this can be achieved, if ECOWAS has a chairman of the Authority of Heads of States, who has the political will to get MPs elected directly, it would solve the issue of the Community Parliament having a full legislative powers.

Sharing his thoughts on twenty years down the lane in the existence of the Parliament, he noted that during his time, Authority of Heads of States and Government were reluctant in giving out some of the legislative powers, because members were yet to be elected directly to the Parliament.

Again, basically there were part time MPs in place and not full time. They were not there long enough and the attrition rate was high, there was always two or more countries who were going for elections year out of the ECOWAS country in the four years span of the life of the Parliament.

“Members would lose, leave and some would be appointed as Ministers, so the attrition rate was high and became a matter of concern, with the kind of structure and setup of the Legislative agenda of the Parliament was impaired”.

He further pointed out that the quality of the members was an issue. They were transient and could not be relied on for any serious drafting of legislation, so the Heads of States thought, by the time it gets to full elections through adult suffrage, every country would have gotten to the point where they transfer full legislative powers.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

ECOWAS Parliament @ 20: It is not easy combining home and Community Parliament work — Opare

Immediate past representative of Ghana to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Fredrick Opare Ansah has said it was not easy combining working in his home parliament and that of the Community located in Abuja Nigeria.

Going down memory lane as the Community Parliament celebrates its twenty years in existence, and haven served in the parliament for nine years, he emphasized that it has not been an easy challenge.

According to him when the Community Parliament is preparing its budget at the same period most of the National Assemblies of member states looking at the financial calendar would be considering their budget.

“I had to shuffle between Ghana’s Parliament and the ECOWAS Parliament. During this period I found myself going back to Accra and Abuja two or three times in a session. I happened to be a member of the Finance Committees at both places, and chairman of a Committee in my home country. Again, I was a rapporteur of a Committee in ECOWAS Parliament”.

In an interview to share memories of his nine years in the Community Parliament, considering that the Parliament is twenty years old, he point out that the work load was not easy and called for the election of members directly to the parliament.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Speaker Tunis arrives in Lome ahead of Tuesday’s delocalized meeting

Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Rt. Honorable Sidie Mohamed Tunis on Saturday, November 14, 2020 arrived in Lome, the capital of the Republic of Togo ahead of the third delocalized meeting of the parliament.

The meeting is expected to span from Tuesday, November 17 to Saturday, November 21, 2020, where five standing  joint committees  on, Telecommunication and Information Technology, Education, Science and Culture, Political Affairs, Peace, Security and APRM, Infrastructures  and Legal Affairs and Human Rights would bring together Community lawmakers to have discussions on ICT and Education in this era of coronavirus  pandemic.

The theme for this meeting is: “ECOWAS in the Era of COVID-19 and beyond: Focusing on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to promote Distance Education and training in the ECOWAS Member States”.

On his arrival at the Etienne Eyadema Gnassingbe International Airport in Lome, Speaker Tunis at a press briefing noted that his delegation is in Togo to chart the way forward on how ICT can be used during the pandemic to sustain the educational sector in the ECOWAS region.  He stated that the coming days would bring together experts in ICT to develop meaningful recommendations that would help the West African sub-regional in its future event, of any pandemic.

“As representatives of the people of the community, we will ensure that the outcome document of this session is fully implemented,” the ECOWAS Parliament Speaker assured.
Meanwhile, the third committee meeting follows two (2) other committee meetings which were all held in this November 2020.

It would be recalled that earlier this month, ECOWAS Parliament under the direct leadership of the Speaker, from November 3 to7, 2020 held a joint committee meeting in Cotonou, Benin to discuss; “Africa Continental Free Trade Area, how feasible in the face of cross-border threats: Terrorism and Insecurity, Pandemics, Protectionalism”.

Furthermore, the meeting in Cotonou was followed by another joint committee meeting in Bissau, Republic of Guinea Bissau, also under the direct supervision of the ECOWAS Parliament Speaker with the theme “ECOWAS Food Security; Agricultural Production and the fight against COVID 19”.

As a result, several educational institutions turned to modern ICT platforms in the form of videoconference to enhance dissemination of very vital information and also organised teachings without physical contacts.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

ECOWAS Parliament hosts meeting to soften Anglophone & Francophone domination —Speaker

Speaker of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Rt. Honourable Sidie Mohamed Tunis has confirmed that one of the key factors they considered in deciding that Guinea Bissau hosts the joint Committee meeting with the ECOWAS Commission to assess the status of COVID-19 pandemic, agricultural production and food insecurity is to soften the dominance of Anglophone and Francophone countries in the Parliament.

Speaker Tunis made this statement during a brief press conference after a closed-door courtesy call on the President of Guinea Bissau, His Excellency Umaro Sissoco Embalo on Monday, November 9, 2020 at the Presidential Palace in Bissau.

Justifying his statement, the Speaker recalled remarks made by the Guinea Bissau President during the last ECOWAS Council of Head of States and Government meeting in which the president appealed to his colleague heads of states to consider hosting their next meeting in Bissau.

As Speaker Tunis took over in March this year, under his leadership, this is the first time the Community Parliament is holding a meeting in a Portuguese speaking country.

He said, he has held meetings in French and English-speaking countries, but this time around sees the need to give priority to a Portuguese speaking country so as to soften the presumed monopoly of Anglophone and Francophone countries in the regional parliament.

And added that, Guinea Bissau is very peaceful like any other West African states, hence the reason he brought  representatives from ECOWAS Parliament, ECOWAS Commission and West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) to have presentations on salient topic revolving food security and agriculture in the region during the period of COVID-19.

He expressed optimism that the people of Guinea Bissau will benefit greatly in the upcoming deliberations; and thanked them for their hospitality and warmest reception to all delegates who are now in Bissau to witness the committee meeting.

Meanwhile, it is worthy to note that the regional Parliament  under the distinguished leadership of its Speaker, Tunis is conveying a meeting of joint committees on Agriculture, Environment, Water Resources and Sustainable Development/ Industry and Private Sector/ Health/ Energy and Mines/ Social Affairs, Gender and Women Empowerment between Tuesday 10th to Saturday 14th November 2020 to discuss the most vital theme of “ECOWAS food security and agriculture production program and the fight against COVID 19.”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Ghana sources food to neighbouring countries during COVID-19 – Agric Minister

Ghana’s Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto has said Ghana has been the only country in the West Africa sub-region providing food sources to its neighboring countries during the COVID-19 pandemic era.

He made this remarks on the floor of Parliament when he appeared before the House to brief it on this year’s farmers’ day celebration which ended on Friday, November 6, 2020 at Techiman in the Bono East Region.

He said, in line with this year’s celebration, a whole week had been deducted and scheduled with various activities that would help improve the farmers’ knowledge on modern ways of farming and also how to maximize their revenue.

In an interview with the Minister for Food and Agriculture, he explained that, the farmers’ day cerebration was pushed forward to November instead of its usual first week in December due to the General election scheduled for December 7, 2020.

Dr.  Akoto was in Parliament to make a statement on event and how the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) government appreciate and celebrate Ghanaian farmers on its 36th anniversary celebration.

He used the opportunity to invite the Speaker Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye and Members of Parliament to grace the occasion.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

COVID-19: ECOWAS donates food to most vulnerable households in Mali

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission has provided support in terms of food items to households in Mail through the Government on Saturday, November 7, 2020.

Mali is faced with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic which is exacerbating humanitarian challenges in the country. The country is already confronted with the cumulative effects of terrorism, global warming, and the anticipated risk of the invasion of crop pests such as desert locusts and the fall armyworm.

The regional solidarity was demonstrated through a food donation of seven hundred and ninety-three tons of cereals comprising of millet, maize, sorghum and rice. The first donation consist of two hundred and thirty-seven tones of cereals financed by the Commission’s Humanitarian Emergency Fund for Disaster and Emergency Relief to Member States affected by a humanitarian crisis, while the second donation of five hundred and fifty-six tones funded by the resources of the Regional Food Security Storage Support Project, which the European Union is financing for a total amount of fifty-six million Euros.

The two donations, were complementing the multidimensional support that the ECOWAS Commission has provided to Mali since the advent of COVID-19 in the country in March 24, 2020. They were handed over to Alhamdou Agllene, Minister for Malian Diaspora and African Integration by Sekou Sangare and Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, Commissioners in charge of Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources and Social Affairs and Gender respectively.

In a statement, by the ECOWAS Commission, it noted that the contribution of the ECOWAS Emergency Humanitarian Fund to the Malian Government’s efforts aims at helping the most vulnerable households to cope with the multiple crises while preserving their livelihood and dignity.

Commissioner Jagne said this before inviting all development actors to work in a concerted manner, to curb recurring crises to which the perverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been added.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com