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Akufo-Addo Urges Politicians To Work For Democracy and Checkmate Coups

“I want to reaffirm that in the contemporary world, the only legitimacy for any leader is through a mandate that is freely give by the people…”

Ghana’s President, Nana  Akufo-Addo has called on politicians in the West African subregion to work assiduously towards entrenching democratic principles of accountability, noting that until this is ensured democracy may continued to be under attack.

Akufo-Addo stated this on Friday at a high-level parliamentary seminar on the ‘Role of the ECOWAS Parliament: Relating the Challenges of Unconstitutional Regime Change and Presidential Term Limits in West Africa”, organised by the ECOWAS Parliament in Winneba, Ghana.

The Ghanaian President while declaring open the seminar, lamented that “our region is confronted with a difficult economic, political, social insecurity situation.”

He said despite the considerable progress made by the community in the areas of democracy, good governance and the rule of law since the 1990s, “we are at the moment witnessing a significant decline in our democratic relations.”

He said: “This observation is bitter and implacable, today four member ECOWAS States are led by military government as a result of coup d’etat, this has unfortunately created a stare palpable anxiety and tension in every corner of the region, raising the spectra of region instability which we thought had been banished for ever. Equally apart is the culture of violence and disputes that characterise the period of electing some of our leaders.

He decried that the regional democracy is currently facing three serious threats, which include attempted confiscation of democracy by elites who impose legal instruments in the manipulation of democracy and the subjugation of the institutions of the republic with the sole aim of remaining in power; secondly the emerging remilitarization of governance with the return once again of the military unto the political scene who have neither consulted or received any mandate from the people on whose behalf they purport to act; the wanton desire to destroy democracy by terrorist groups and armed criminal gangs which promote lawlessness and violation of freedom in the region.

He said: “I want to reaffirm that in the contemporary world, the only legitimacy for any leader is through a mandate that is freely give by the people in a fair, peaceful and transparent election. This is the most tangible and objective way to know and recognize the commonwealth which is the wealth of the people.

He noted that The election of Mohammed Bazoum in Niger was in line with all the tenets of democracy and that was why the coup in Niger is particularly tragic for the consolidation of democracy in our region.

He cautioned that: “It is also important to remind us that democracy is not a western concept as some believe but rather a universal concept of general application. The history of the world, including that of Africa testifies that the process of electing and installing leaders in democratic circumstances provides the best form of government.

“Modern history has taught us that tyranny, oppression and totalitarian government do not last long. No matter how a people reject democracy and civil liberty circumstances will always force them back to embrace them”.

He therefore urged Parliamentarians to speak against the extension of presidential tenures by some leaders to strengthen their grip and power.

These actions according to President Akufo-Addo, tend to result in discontent among the populace to create fertile grounds for which military intervention feed.

He said: “There should be no backsliding in support for democratic values anchored on the promotion of the rule of law and respect for human rights.

“It is important for all of us in the adherence of democracy to remember not to underestimate the importance of parliament, the consequently not to undermine it’s worth. We cannot emphasize enough the role of Parliament in exercising the checks and balances needed on the executive, we cannot emphasize enough the role of Parliament as the voice of the people and we cannot emphasize enough the role of Parliament in setting the tone for public discuss in our respective countries. It is for the good of our nations that our parliaments development the capacity to insist on accountability in all aspect of our land and no institution is better suited for this than the one who houses the representatives of the people”.

The seminar is expected to brainstorm on the major challenges facing the region and profer solutions, the Ghanaian president assures that the authority of Heads of States are expectant of the resolutions.

He said: “Brainstorming on all this major challenges which I have just outlined in the search for solutions to the political and security challenges facing our region is the imperative mission of this seminar, one of the expected outcomes is to help us understand even better the root causes of democratic regression and political instability in the region, it all will be better to address. This seminar over the next few days must propose measures to ensure the anchoring of democracy and republican values both at the level of political elites and citizens of the community. This will help towards preserving the peace and stability of the region.

“I can assure you that the authority of Heads of states of ECOWAS will be receptive to all your proposals and await them with great interest. Our expectations is that the conclusions and recommendations from this seminar will contribute to the deepening and strengthening of democracy, good governance, peace and stability in our region.

In his remarks, the Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Hon. Sidie MohammedTunis, explained that the high-level seminar was put together as part of the performance of parliaments obligations under the Treaty, to determine what causes military takeovers, democratic regression, and political instability in the sub-region.

He said this is in spite of the existence of Community Acts and Protocols intended to consolidate democracy and promote political stability.

Tunis reiterated that their responsibility as legislators is not only to create laws and policies but also to rigorously monitor their implementation.

According to him, to ensure that ECOWAS performs maximally to the expectation of the people, as parliamentarians, they must facilitate robust and continuous
discourse on the broad issues, aimed at formulating effective and sustainable solutions to the tremendous crisis confronting our peoples and
humanity in general.

“During this Seminar, we also intend to look at the causes of various attempts by democratically elected leaders in the sub-
region to extend their term limits despite crystal-clear constitutional provisions outlining these terms, as well as the potential role the ECOWAS Parliament can play in preventing such anti-democratic actions.

“We note that the role of the Parliament in upholding regional stability, laying the groundwork for democracy, economic growth, and the rule of law, as well as acting as the voice of hope for all our peoples, is invaluable and should never be diminished. Parliamentarians need to step up to the plate and demonstrate the extraordinary leadership that is expected of us.”

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

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