Dr Sidie Tunis, Speaker, ECOWAS Parliament, has assured that the Community’s institutions remain committed to promoting the principles of human rights, democracy, rule of law, transparency, accountability, and good governance in the sub-region.
Tunis made this known on Saturday at the closing of the High-level Seminar of the ECOWAS Parliament in Winneba, Ghana, aimed at examining the state of democracy in Member States to proffer possible solutions.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the seminar is with the theme “Two decades of Democratic Elections in ECOWAS Member States: Achievements, Challenges and the Way Forward”.
Tunis said that in the last three decades, ECOWAS was working tirelessly to further promote democratic systems, political pluralism, representative institutions, free and democratic participation in Member States.
“ECOWAS remains committed to ensure neutrality or independence of the structures in charge of elections, transparency and reliability of the electoral register and transparency in the organisation.”
He said the regional body was also committed to conduct and declaration of election results as well as credibility in the handling of electoral disputes.
“This Seminar has provided an insight towards a better understanding of the legal, institutional, and material frameworks for conducting elections in Member States.
“We were able to come to terms with the fact that although there are shortcomings in our electoral systems, such shortcomings can be remedied by adopting best practices.
“We still believe that one of the best yardsticks for measuring democracy is the conduct of periodic elections that are considered credible through meeting best international practices,” Tunis said.
Tunis said that elections should be the yardstick for good and inclusive governance, adding that as Community, ECOWAS had strong faith in the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
The ECOWAS Speaker urged Member States to incorporate its relevant provisions into national legislations.
“All of us here can agree that our aims and actions as leaders of our communities are to make the lives of our people better.
“This why we must cast off all threats to our democracies not only by words but by action.
“Each and every one of us has a responsibility to create a sustainable environment for democracy to flourish in this sub region.
“If we believe that the rule of law must be upheld and that the freedom to vote and be voted for is a human right, then we must reject and eject obstructive forces that prevent us from conducting inclusive and peaceful democratic elections.
“If we allow indolence and indifference to conquer our will to rid ourselves of the evils of corruption and poverty, then we will find ourselves enslaved and reliant on others for our survival,” Tunis said.
Tunis said that the time was ripe for the community to stand firm and work toward the democratic future of our community.
He gave the assurance that the outcome of the Seminar would be shared with the Community Decision Makers, as well as other Stakeholders.
This, he explained, would ensure that the common man enjoyed his democratic rights and votes in every election in the sub-region count. (NAN)