The ECOWAS Parliament has recommended the revision of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance to prohibit all forms of political manoeuvring to hold on to power beyond constitutional limits.
The Parliament made the recommendation at the end of its High-level seminar on “Two decades of Democratic Elections in ECOWAS Member States: Achievements, Challenges and the Way Forward” on Friday, in Winneba, Ghana.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the recommendation was contained in the communique on the outcomes of the seminar, which was read by Hon. Zargo Stephen, a member of Parliament from Liberia.
READ ALSO: ECOWAS parliament appoints Ghana’s President to champion its direct universal suffrage campaign
The recommendation for a revised protocol to prohibit tenure elongation is coming on the heels of the phenomenon seen to be the leading cause of the disruption of democratic rule in Mali and Guinea.
The parliamentarians and experts at the seminar also recommended that in order to consolidate democracy and good governance, election of members of the community Parliament should be by Direct Universal Suffrage.
They also recommended that “a study be conducted for the adoption of regional standards to govern electoral processes.
“Such as an effective independence of election management agencies, the impartiality of courts that sit on electoral disputes, regulation of electoral campaigns, computerization of electoral registers and use of voters’ card.
“Compliance with the quota or gender equality system to enhance women’s representation in decision-making bodies, including the ECOWAS Parliament.”
On the role of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and non-state actors in elections, they cautioned Civil Societies, political parties and electoral candidates against disclosure of results before the body mandated to do so.
“There should be the adoption of mechanisms to ensure adequate participation of Civil Society in the democratic process; such as the protection of the members of civil society organisations, transparent financing, regular cooperation “and consultation with civil society and the promotion of its mediation role between communities and political actors.”
They also recognized the critical role of the media during elections, and made recommendations on what they should do to ensure the conduct of credible elections.
Participants at the seminar stressed the need for greater monitoring of social media during election periods, and the repression of abuse, in order to prevent any media misstep due to disinformation and the spread of fake news.