February 9, 2022

A member of Ghana’s delegation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Mahama Ayariga believes that the various military coups in the West African sub-region, resulting in dissolution of Parliaments is throwing more light on the need for direct election to the Parliament.

According to him, he has been discussing this with colleagues and the Rt. Hon Sidie Mohammed Tunis, and it is obvious that the coups though unfortunate, is one thing that would let countries that have been reluctant to support the agenda for direct election.

“This would let them see that, it would insulate the Parliament from local constitutional crises, like what we are witnessing now” stating that; if MPs were directly elected, suspending constitutions and National Parliaments in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali would not have affected elected MPs to the ECOWAS Parliament..

In an interview, the first rapporteur to the Community’s Parliament on Political Affairs, Peace, Security and Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) pointed out that the issue on direct elections have to be acceptable to the Heads of States themselves, “that is quite a mile stone to achieve”.

As to whether he still stands by his earlier interview to go to the Community Court of Justice over the issue of direct election to the ECOWAS Parliament, he noted that he is still considering it but want to give countries more opportunity to dialogue around the subject matter.

“We have our next session in Liberia next month, let us get the sense of the entire parliament on the proposal and that would give us the indications of the next step to take if there are unanimity among the MPs these are what we want representing their various countries.  I think that it would work. As we speak between you and I, it is not all the MPs that are enthused about direct election”.

ECOWAS Parliament delegation in Niger

Mr. Ayariga further noted that some of the MPs are torn between loyalty to their national parliaments and the sub-regional parliament, as some want to combine, others are not too sub-regional oriented.

“We  need to force people to relinquish one and focus on the other;  so there would be an opportunity to build on one,  which is the sub-regional parliament, as for  the national parliament those ones are built already”, he said.

In another development, he pointed out that he doubt if ECOWAS really has the capacity to use military force anywhere in the-sub region apart from smaller countries like the Gambia and Guinea where a small force is stationed.

He was reacting to whether an ECOWAS standing army can address the issue of military takeovers in the sub-region. “Most of the big countries in the sub-region,  ECOWAS would not have the capacity to use force there to deal with incidence of take overs so that is the challenge”.

 Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com