Dr Sidie Tunis, Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, has pledged to take campaign of direct election of legislators to Niger Republic parliament.
Tunis made the promise in Niamey where he led a delegation from the Parliament on the Mission.
This is contained in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.
Tunis said that the Direct Universal Suffrage of Members to the ECOWAS Parliament would enable the Institution function more effectively, independently and with more authority than it is presently.
In a meeting with Mr Hassoumi Massaoudou, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Niger, Tunis said that the ECOWAS Parliament has a pivotal role to play in discussions surrounding the state of democracy in the region.
Tunis lamented that it is unfortunate that the Parliament cannot adequately perform its duties due to the circumstances surrounding its formation.
He however called on Massaodou to support the democratic advocacy, especially at the level of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers.
“Since the establishment of the Parliament, it has been transitioning with members not directly elected by the people.
“We give credit of the call for direct elections into the ECOWAS Parliament to the Former President of Niger, His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou.
“Who at the inauguration of the 5th Legislature of the Parliament, in Niamey, underscored the need for members of the ECOWAS Parliament to be directly elected by the people they represent.
“Following the appointment of Former President Issoufou as Chief Advocate and Dr Ibn Chambers as Assistant Chief Advocate for the direct election of members into the ECOWAS Parliament.
“Sufficient work has been done to lay out the framework for its achievement, the Adhoc Committee will begin engaging electoral bodies across the region next year to hold technical discussions surrounding the modalities for election,” Tunis said.
In a visit to Hon. Seine Oumarou, the Speaker of the National Assembly of Niger, Tunis recalled that the first step taken to achieve direct universal suffrage at the ECOWAS Parliament, was the establishment of an Adhoc Committee.
Tunis noted that the Adhoc Committee is to conduct Direct Elections into the ECOWAS Parliament.
He disclosed that a proposal has been drafted on the subject and would be brought to the attention of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers and the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government early next year.
Tunis also called for the support of all Member States, beginning with the Republic of Niger, which he branded as the birthplace for the advocacy.
Massaoudou commended Tunis for the push for the Direct Universal Suffrage, a process he stated is not just political, but technical.
“The call for direct elections of members into the ECOWAS Parliament is a technical issue and it ties into regional integration, free movement and democracy across the region.
“I am optimistic that the proposal will be considered at all levels of the ECOWAS governance structure, which would be a very key step towards progress,” Massaoudou said.
Also in his response, Oumarou, thanked Tunis and his delegation for the visit and pledged the support of government in any way to make the visit successful.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the delegation comprises members of the Adhoc Committee on study for direct elections into the ECOWAS Parliament and secretariat staff of the Parliament. (NAN)