National

Groups want ECOWAS to dialogue with Togo on amendment of constitution, others

The West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS), in collaboration with Tournons la Page (TLP), West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), and other pro-democracy actors across the region, have called on ECOWAS to open discussions and dialogue with the government of Togo on the recent amendment to the constitution that received wide protest from pro-democracy actors and citizens, including the Togolese, conference of Bishops, academics, the CSOs, and the diaspora community.

The network noted this while briefing newsmen in Abuja in a joint consultative CSOs and Civic Actors Forum in West Africa to the 65th Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and government.

WADEMOS Network Coordinator, Paul Osei-Kuffour while speaking on behalf of the network explained that with two-thirds of citizens in 34 African countries surveyed by Afrobarometer in 2022, are in favour of limiting presidents to two terms, ECOWAS should recognize presidential term limits as by far the preferred option among citizens and respond accordingly to these aspirations.

In his words, “We firmly believe that now, more than ever is the time for ECOWAS to fast-track the review of the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol and promulgate a code on presidential term limits that is in harmony with all proposed revisions of the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol.

“The degenerating socio-political climate across the ECOWAS requires immediate intervention to forestall further reversals of democracy in the region, with term elongation being a major driver.

“With two-thirds of citizens in 34 African countries surveyed by Afrobarometer in 2022, in favour of limiting presidents to two terms, ECOWAS should recognize presidential term limits as by far the preferred option among citizens and respond accordingly to these aspirations.

“Moreover, 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. ECOWAS should take immediate steps through the reform to curtail the situation in Togo from becoming the new norm in the region.

“This memorandum expresses our concerns about developments in our region and offers some recommendations for the consideration of Your Excellencies 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 Civil Society Organizations (“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 persist despite the normative framework on peace and security and the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.

“We recall that the CSOs and non-state pro-democratic actors that gathered on December 8, 2023, in Abuja on the eve of the 64th Ordinary Session of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government urged ECOWAS to expedite the review of the Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and strengthen it to include a prescription against unlimited presidential terms or term limit elongations, having regard to the damaging impact of term elongation on peace and security in the sub-region.

“We note with approval the instruction directed to the Commission at the 64th Ordinary Session of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government, to intensify consultations with Member States to finalize and present for adoption the draft Revised Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.

“We note similarly the resolution at the 64th Ordinary Session to convene an extraordinary summit on Unconstitutional Changes of Government (UCGs), the call on The Gambia for the adoption of a new Constitution ahead of the 2026 general elections, the support to GuineaBissau in the consolidation of democracy, and efforts to consolidate peace and stability, including through the completion of the on-going review of the Constitution and Security Sector Reform, and initiatives in support of the deployment of the regional counter-terrorism force.

“We continue to express our grave concern about the security in the Sahel compounded by the backsliding of the principles of human rights, the rule of law, democracy and good governance.

“We condemn the arrest and detention of civic actors and political opponents by the transitional governments in Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea and Niger and the continuous suppression of activists and defenders, particularly, in Burkina Faso under the “general mobilisation law”, which gives the president sweeping powers, including that of conscripting people and restraining civil liberties.

“We urge the Heads of State 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) to intervene in the situation in the Sahel to avoid further deterioration of the rights of citizens by their government,” he said .

Signatories (Members of WADEMOS, Civic Groups and Pro-democracy Actors in the Sub-region): West Africa Civil Society Initiative (WACSI), West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), The Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO-Senegal), AfricTivistes (Senegal), AfrikaJom Center (Senegal) WATHI Think tank (Senegal), Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) ,Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (Ghana) Gender Centre for Empowering Development (GenCED-Ghana),CDD-West Africa (Nigeria) and others .

Back to top button