Deputy Majority Leader in the Ghanaian Parliament and Leader to the Ghanaian delegation to the Community Parliament, Alexander Kwamena Afenyo-Markin has noted that the idea of Free Movement of Goods and Services in the West Africa sub-region should be welcomed and embraced by all member states. According to him this is to create an atmosphere where ECOWAS citizens would not be limited by borders; but was quick to point out that member stats do have their challenges in the wake of security and political instability.
Hence member states are trying to control Free Movement of People in a manner that they can manage to know who is coming in and going out and citizens in member states are supposed to meet certain conditions as they trade in the sub-region. In an interview on Tuesday, October 4, 2022, he noted that MPs should create the awareness for citizens to know the community protocols if they want to move from their home country to another.
“We should be able to interact and explain more to our people at the same time we should let our citizen appreciate the security challenges. My country Ghana for instance is much concerned about its Northern border with Burkina Faso, the instability in Mali and Burkina Faso is of great concern to Ghana. If we do not control the influx, it would undermine our own security in this case it cannot be that in controlling you put in measures to prevent an influx, you are breaching community protocol, there is an essential need to ensure there is security in your country”.
This , he said is important to ensure that people would not come into your Country under the pretext of ECOWAS citizen to distablise your country, and need to look at it in that contest of what is being done on the whole citizen in the sub-region to allow free movement to Togo, Ivory Coast, Benin and Nigeria. Also, traders move in and out generally, but he does not think citizens have been denied that opportunity that much, but there is the need to put in measures to ensure that extremist do not take advantage of free movement to “distablilise our sub- region”.
Again, there is a military, government in Guinea Conakry, Burkina Faso, it does serve the good of the sub- region in terms of democracy. “We need democracy. As a key imperative for economic growth you need democracy for stability, if there is no democracy and we allow adventurist to come in as and when they wish to influence by external and internal forces at the end of the day the whole idea and objective of the sub- region to ensure democracy and stability would get compromised”.
Furthermore, he noted, “we cannot say the sub-region should unduly interfere in the affairs of member states, but we should be mindful of the principle of responsibility to protect. It happened in the Gambia, where the sub-region was proactive and there was stability in the Gambia; Liberia, it got to a point the sub -region took control that led to stability in Liberia. And there are instances Ivory Coast for instance a situation even as the AU at the time has to come in, the sub- region was very proactive at the end of the day it led to the stability that we have in Ivory Coast.
“The sub- regional political leadership has the responsibility to protect, invoke some powers which if implemented in a united form will send a strong signal to those adventures who are thinking that ‘let us organise our self and organise a coup’, it would deter people who think I can always stage a coup and find an excuse to say there is going to be transition and the sub-region body cannot bit and can generally talk and all that. I think one must be looked at critically and urgently”, he noted.