CSOs urge ECOWAS to expedite adoption of democratic protocol

The West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS), a coalition of 53 Civil organisations,has called on ECOWAS to expedite the review of its Supplementary Protocol to address the socio-political challenges in the region.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the ECOWAS protocol’s objective is the development of a constitutional State based on rule of law, strengthening of democracy and adopting common principles of good governance within member states.

WADEMOS in collaboration with Tournons la Page (TLP), West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), and other pro-democracy actors across the region,made the call on Thursday in Abuja.

Mr Paul Osei-Kuffour ,WADEMOS Network Coordinator, said the Joint Consultative CSOs and Civic Actors Forum thought it wise to draw the attention of ECOWAS to some issues ahead of the 65th Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.

Osei-Kuffour said that the CSOs called on ECOWAS to promulgate a code on presidential term limits in harmony with all proposed revisions of the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol.

He said that the call was imperative because the degenerating socio-political climate across the ECOWAS required immediate intervention to forestall further reversals of democracy in the region, with term elongation being a major driver.

According to him, the memorandum expressed the concerns about developments in the region and offered some recommendations for consideration.

“This is with a view to strengthening the democratic architecture, improve upon peace and security and advance the integration of the peoples of the Community.

“As regional CSOs, dedicated to the prosperity and development of the region, we are deeply concerned about the political and security crises and the risk to the unity and cohesion of the Community.

“These developments, including unconstitutional and undemocratic changes of governments, have occurred and persistent.

“This is in spite of the normative framework on peace and security and the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.”

Osei-Kuffour said WADEMOS had earlier urged ECOWAS to expedite the review of the Protocol strengthen it to include a prescription against unlimited presidential terms or term limit elongations.

He said that ECOWAS was also urged to intensify consultations with Member States to finalise and present for adoption, the draft Revised Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance among others.

“Lessons from the constitutional review in Togo that provides overriding powers to the president of the council of ministers with no term limit against the elected president should inform the review of the Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.

“It is our humble appeal to ECOWAS that the reform of presidential term limit to two terms should apply equally and strictly to Heads of States as Heads of Government across all member states.”

Osei-Kuffour said the coalition called on ECOWAS to take immediate steps through the reform to curtail the situation in Togo from becoming the new norm in the region.

He said Heads of State have been urged to seek the intervention of global and regional bodies including the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) and the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC).

This, he said was to intervene in the situation in the Sahel to avoid further deterioration of the rights of citizens by their government.

“We further urge ECOWAS to prioritise the human rights conditions in the Sahel.

“We entreat the regional body to leverage the resources and opportunities in the region to embark on institutional reforms .

“This is to strengthen its legitimacy, enhance support from the community citizens and build resilience in reversing the anti-democratic trends and resurgence in the region,” he said.

Mr Austin Aigbe, Advocacy Officer, WADEMOS, while making presentation on the state of democracy in West Africa, said about 26 coups had occurred in the African region between 2002 to 2023.

Aigbe said that 13 occured in the Western region, five in the Central region, four in the Northern region, three in the Eastern region and one in the Southern region.

The Executive Director of the Centre for Democratic Development, Dr Dauda Garuba, said that military coups have caused serious setbacks in Africa.

Garuba said the coups have also led to human rights abuses and other vices.

He, therefore, urged pro-democracy groups to collaborate closely with ECOWAS and other regional bodies to promote democratic governance across the continent.

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