West African leaders met in Abuja, Sunday (Dec. 10) for talks on their region which faces a deepening political crisis, growing threats from jihadist wreaking havoc in the Sahel and criticism of its leadership in some member countries. **
The political crisis in Niger was high in the agenda.
A commission was set up to engage with the nation’s ruling CNSP to decide on progress towards a short transition and other conditions for lifting sanctions.
“The authority decides to set up a committee of heads of state made up of the presence of the President and head of state of the Republic of Togo, the President and head of state of the Republic of Sierra Leone, the President and head of state of the Republic of Benin, to engage with CNSP and other stakeholders, with a view to agreeing on a short transition roadmap, establishing transition organs as well as facilitating the setting up of a transition monitoring and evaluation mechanism to work for the speedy restoration of constitutional order,” the president of the ECOWAS commission said.
Conditions on lifting sanctions
After the July 26 coup, ECOWAS imposed economic and financial sanctions santions on Niger. The President of the Ecowas Commission, Omar Alieu Touray, outlined conditions for their lifting.
“The authority will progressively ease the sanctions imposed on Niger. Failure by the CNSP to comply with the outcomes of engagement with the committee, ECOWAS shall maintain all sanctions, including the use of force and will request African Union and all other parties to enforce the target assumptions on members of the CMSP and their associate,” Touray said.
Speaking to Al Jazeera at the time, the bloc’s commissioner for peace and security said it was ‘unacceptable.’
The door for diplomacy with Niger’s junta remained open but the bloc is not going to engage in drawn-out talks that lead nowhere, Abdel-Fatau Musah, the ECOWAS commissioner for peace and security, told The Associated Press in an interview on Aug. 23.
According to a Togolese source, general Tiani is ready to negotiate on the duration transition and the fate of deposed leader Mohamed Bazoum who is detained.
In his opening statement, Nigeria’s president Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is the Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government urged West African leaders to prioritize good governance for the people, as it serves as a catalyst for socio-economic transformation and development.
‘”By providing good governance that tackles the challenges of poverty, inequality and other concerns of the people, we would have succeeded in addressing some of the root causes of military intervention in civilian processes in our region,” he said.
He emphasised that the goal of ECOWAS to achieve a fully integrated region couldn’t be realised without peace, security, and stability saying; “the region, as far back as 2001, recognized democracy as the only form of governance capable of fostering development, inclusiveness and social well-being of our people.”
The ECOWAS Chairman described the attempt by some of the countries under military rule to float an Alliance of Sahel States as a ‘phantom attempt to divert attention from our mutual quest for democracy and good governance that will impact the life of our people.’’
On the recent disturbances in Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau, the ECOWAS Chairman asked fellow leaders to pay attention to protecting democracy, reiterating ECOWAS’ zero tolerance to unconstitutional changes of government.
Bagbin advocates for chiefs to be made MPs
Story: News Desk
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban S. K. Bagbin is advocating for traditional leaders, both chiefs and queen mothers to be brought up to national governance level as members of Parliament.
He said that was why at the ongoing review of the 1992 Constitution, areas should be earmarked to allow some traditional leaders, both chiefs and queen mothers, to qualify to be in Parliament.
“Countries like Botswana and Rwanda have gotten it right. The presence of these traditional leaders brings sanity and discipline into the House [Parliament] and contribute to enhancing our rich culture,” the Speaker said.
Mr Bagbin was addressing the Queen Mothers Association of Ghana last Friday [Dec 8, 2023] at his office in Parliament.
The queen mothers were there to familiarise with the Speaker and to acquaint themselves with the legislative processes in Parliament.
The Speaker said governance was not only about political parties and as such could not be left in the hands of politicians alone.
“We can play politics without being partisan.
“Politics is about the formulation of policies that are nurtured by the interest of all and their view taken into consideration in fashioning out such policies,” Mr Bagbin told the queen mothers.
He said when that is done, everybody feels part and parcel of the policy at the implementation stage.
“You are an authority and influential people in your communities and your view cannot be overlooked,” he told the queen mothers.
Tracing the trajectory of governance in Ghana, the Speaker said, “as a country we lost our direction when we gain independence by wrongly identifying the true leaders of our country.”
“We placed our hopes and aspirations into the hands of only the politicians and we lost it,” he said.
Indeed, the speaker said even during the pre-independence era, when the whites invaded the country, they recognised the traditional leaders as the true leaders.
“That was why they ruled us indirectly through our traditional leaders and not politicians,” he said.
The President of the Queen Mothers Association and the Queen mother of the Nkonya Traditional Area, Nana Otubea ll, bemoaned the exclusion of queen mothers in decision-making at the regional and national houses of chiefs.
She said the exclusion of queen mothers at regional and national houses of chiefs was discriminatory and made them second-class citizens.
Nana Otubea, said the association was, therefore, seeking clarification and interpretation of the word chief in the constitution.
She said as it stands now, the constitution is biased towards them and allowing only their male counterparts to appropriate the word “chief.”