By Victoria Ojeme
President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana has said that democracy is still at its nascent stages in West Africa following a bout of coups and election violence in recent times.
Akufo-Ado who spoke at the opening of the high-level parliamentary seminar on 20 years of democratic elections in West Africa in Ghana’s coastal city of Winneba on the theme: Evaluating Two Decades Of Democratic Elections In The ECOWAS Region: Achievements, Challenges And The Way Forward also cautioned incumbent Presidents of ECOWAS Countries against holding on to power beyond constitutional provisions, a phenomenon he noted is the major cause of political instability in the Sub-region.
“I am indeed pleased to reaffirm before you my unshakable belief in the principles of democratic accountability which constitute the basis of good governance in our member states.
“We note with sadness the crisis linked to the election processes in our culture tend to obscure the efforts made at various levels of the electoral process. It remains the duty of community institutions through constant interactions with all stakeholders to ring alarm bells whenever they feel things are going in the wrong direction.
“We must not forget that even with two decades of democratic elections in our member states, we still remain a work in progress as democracies. I’m convinced that we will continue to improve on our electoral systems and process out of duty towards our children and grandchildren,” the Ghanaian President said.
According to him, the “The profession of the sanctity of the ballot box carries with it, the subversion of good governance of good governance. Good governance should and must imperatively exclude political maneuvers to maintain power beyond constitutional requirements.
“Let us all be aware that beyond that, the marriage between the elected and the electorate becomes forced, the environment becomes toxic, the mandates become queried.
“It is for this reason that the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government and my Chairmanship in its last Extraordinary summit on 16 September 2021 in Accra on the Guinean and Malian situations.
“The Heads of State and Government authorized the ECOWAS Commission to take steps towards the urgent review of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and good governance to take account of contemporary developments.
“I also call on you Members of Parliaments to contribute to the process of this review. I welcome this decision and hope that the review will be swift and pointed,” Akufo-Addo said.
On his part, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou represented by Emmanuel Okorodudu, the Head of Division Democracy and Good Governance, Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Regional Security at the ECOWAS Commission in his address, observed that ECOWAS region has witnessed a considerable progress in its democratic consolidation efforts over the years, with member states organizing elections in manner that are credible, transparent, free, fair and peaceful.
He said that this success in promoting good electoral processes has been made possible with the active support of the ECOWAS Parliament in its participation with the ECOWAS Commission in the monitoring and observation of elections across the region.
Despite our joint benefits of witnessing success in the progress of the electioneering process in the region, the region in recent times has experienced a noticeable setback in the acceptance of the outcomes of elections. The contesting of election results has raised a serious concern that has threatened the region’s collective gains to consolidate and deepen participatory democracy.
He said that these new developments in the democratic trajectory of the region, has left a lot of room to be desired in terms of how the values and principles of participatory democracy and elections in particular can be managed to address the albatross of the current retrogression which elections have been experiencing in the region.