OrderPaperToday– A submission by the speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) parliament, Mr. Moustapha Cissé-Lo, that member countries should be allowed to exercise sovereignty over terms of their leaders on Tuesday caused a stir at the opening session of iys extraordinary session in Gambia.
Cissé-Lo, while delivering a speech at the event, said calls on the ECOWAS to make a pronouncement imposing a two term limit on member countries for heads of states would amount to interfering in their sovereign right to choose how their governments are run.
He further said there should be no interferences from the ECOWAS, stating, “There are some countries where the mandate is not limited. I can mention Cameroon for instance. Let’s leave these countries to alter their constitutions based on their times. All constitutions can be reviewed and adapted to suit the realities of their times; that is why I say ECOWAS cannot make any pronouncements to limit mandates to not more than two terms. That is not for ECOWAS to determine. ECOWAS should not make any pronouncements on that.”
This position was rejected by a majority of the parliamentarians who booed him, prompting the speaker to apologise and further explain his point.
He said, “If you do not like the way that sounds, I will withdraw it. I am sorry about it but we see what has been written in the press, we cannot shy away from this argument.
“I am saying that the states have their sovereignty to determine how they want to run their governments as long as everybody in that country accepts it that way.”
A member of parliament from Liberia, Mrs. Clarence Massaquoi, who spoke to newsmen on the sidelines of the event, pointed out that parliamentarians were particularly displeased with the speaker’s submission as they were of the view that the ECOWAS should,as a matter of necessity, pressure member countries to limit the terms of their leaders to 2.
She maintained that no true democracy allows for perpetuity of rule of heads of states.
On other issues, Cissé-Lo had highlighted some of the achievements of the 4th legislature to include “the strengthening of the principles of parliamentary representation through discussions and determination to respect parliamentary immunity.”
He also expressed displeasure over the various attacks suffered by some security operatives of some member countries by armed groups as he called for the clampdown on perpetrators of the crimes.
“I want to hail the determination of some states to fight terrorism and obscurantism. And as I love to remind you, peace and security are at the basis of economic development.”