Alexander Afenyo-Markin, Deputy Majority Leader of Ghana’s Parliament and MP for the Effutu Constituency has called on members of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) to stand united against military coups and tenure elongation by some leaders in the sub-region.
“We cannot allow the resurgence of military coups and other forms of unconstitutional changes of government to undermine the progress we have fought so hard to achieve.
“We must therefore stand united and protect the sacred flames of democracy and freedom, guided by the enduring spirit of collaboration, resilience, and progress that have defined our journey thus far”.
Mr. Afenyo-Markin made this known in his welcome address at the Opening Ceremony of the High-Level Interactive Seminar and the Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament at the University of Education, Winneba, last Friday.
The Effutu MP who is the Leader of Ghana’s Delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament said “We must firmly CONDEMN the coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Chad, and Gabon, along with the hostilities in Sudan. These actions are a betrayal of the democratic principles we hold dear, and we demand a swift return to constitutional rule. We must affirm, unequivocally, that regression is not the solution. Our golden age lies ahead of us, not in the shadows of the 1960s to 1980s”.
He stated that “It is under the shade of democracy that we can cultivate the progress we aspire to. It is here that we can construct the schools that will nurture the minds of our future leaders. It is here that we can build modern hospitals to heal our people and foster technology to propel Africa into an era of supreme industrialization in the wake of the AfCFTA.
“Together, we can construct robust and resilient economies that will position Africa as a formidable competitor on the global stage”.
Mr. Afenyo-Markin explained that no form of governance has ever been perfect, but history has proven time and again that democracy stands as the best option for nations seeking development in peace and harmony, stating “even in its imperfections, it carries within its structures the capacity to rise above the ills that afflict it, fostering environments where innovation, justice, and freedom thrive.
Therefore, he said, “It is incumbent upon us, the custodians of this sacred trust, to continually refine and enhance these structures, ensuring that they remain resilient in the face of the ever-changing challenges that our societies encounter”.
Afenyo-Markin continued: “yet, it is with a heavy heart that we acknowledge another glaring crisis that tears at the fabric of our communities – the barbaric onslaught from jihadists and terrorists. With their crude weapons of horror, they continue to bring death and despair to many parts of West Africa.
“But we must staunchly assert that these activities should in no way provide a justification for military coups to overthrow democratically elected regimes. We must insist, fervently, that the answer to these acts of terror lies within our democratic institutions, standing as bastions of hope and fortitude amidst the turmoil.”
ECOWAS Parliament in Winneba
Members of the ECOWAS Parliament from all across the West African sub-region with support staff from the ECOWAS Commission have converged since last Friday, September 29 in the town of Winneba in the Effutu Constituency of the Central Region, to dialogue on the theme: “: the Challenges of Tenure Elongation and Unconstitutional Regime Change in West Africa – The Critical Role of the ECOWAS Parliament.”
President Nana Akufo-Addo, in his keynote address as Special Guest of Honour to open the ceremony last Friday charged members of the ECOWAS Parliament to find solutions to the emerging re-militarisation of governance, the attempted confiscation of democracy by elites and the wanton desire to destroy democracy by terrorist groups and armed criminal gangs in the region.
Stating what he described as three serious threats to democracy in the region, President Akufo-Addo said, “democracy in West Africa is in danger”, thus the regional fraternity “must work even harder to entrench the principles of democratic accountability in the citizenry.”
According to President Akufo-Addo, democracy in the region has been seriously subverted by “the attempted confiscation of democracy by elites, who engage, through legal antics, in the manipulation of constitutional rules and the subjugation of the institutions of the Republic with the sole aim of remaining in power.”
He added that another key threat is “the emerging re-militarisation of governance with the intrusion, once again, of the military on the political scene, who have neither consulted, nor received any mandate from, the people on whose behalf they purport to act.”
The incumbent Speaker of the 5th Legislature is Rt. Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis and Neenyi Ghartey VII, Paramount Chief of the Effutu Traditional Area in their respective speeches were vocal against the abuse of the structures of democratic governance systems.
The Seminar ends on October 7 and would attract an array of resource persons including Dr. Mohammed Ibin Chambas, Former President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Dr. Abdul Fatau Musah, Commissioner, Political Affairs, Peace and Security and Professor Raymound Atuguba, Dean of the University of Ghana.
Apart from Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, ECOWAS MPs from all the member states are in Winneba for the conference.
It would be the second time in two years that the ECOWAS Parliament is having a high-level seminar and session in Winneba. In 2021, the town successfully played host to the ECOWAS Parliament’s five-day Delocalized Meetings as well as the Extra Ordinary Session.