August 12, 2020
By Mohamed M. Sesay
Speaker of the 5th Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) Parliament, Honorable Sidie Mohamed Tunis has on the 10th August, assured President of the Republic of Niger of his firm commitment in ensuring that the next configuration of ECOWAS Parliament, Members would be elected through universal suffrage voting.
Hon. Tunis made the above affirmation in his courtesy visit to the President of the Republic of Niger, President Issoufou Mahamadou at the Presidential Palace in Niamey Niger, stressing on the need for representatives and their alternates to be elected by direct universal suffrage by citizens of Member States.
“The institution is in its Fifth Legislature. To this day, MPs who constitute the Community Parliament are still elected by the National Assemblies from amongst themselves. Perhaps it is time now, Mr. President, to consider their election by direct universal suffrage,’’ said Hon. Tunis.
He continued that the importance of direct universal suffrage has an advantage of having elected representatives fully available to the Community Parliament, adding that it would easily “help strengthen the rapport between elected representatives and citizens.
He stated that election by direct universal suffrage would also give a new legitimacy devoid of any partisan influence based on the direct link with the voters.
Hon. Tunis further intimated the president of Niger that he has set up an Ad hoc Committee which comprises 16 MPs chaired by the 1st Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, in order to lead the reflections on the parameters and implementation of the process leading to the election of Community MPs by Direct Universal Suffrage. He noted that the Ad hoc Committee has not yet met due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but said it was important for him to have led the mission to the president of Niger, in order to seek his wise counsel and guidance so that he could report same to the Ad hoc Committee.
He further expressed his condolences on behalf of the ECOWAS Parliament to the Head of State and to the Nigerien people for the terrorist attack carried out on Sunday, August 9th, 2020 in the Kouré area, some 80km east of Niamey, which killed at least eight people, including six French aid workers and two Nigerians. He also discussed the socio-political situation in Mali, with President Issoufou, announcing that in the coming days, ECOWAS Parliament would send a delegation to that country with the aim of studying the ways and means to restore peace and security in that part of the continent.
‘’Your Excellency will recall that during the said inaugural session, your historic and inspirational opening speech addressed the issue of election of Community Representatives by direct universal suffrage, and I quote you: “in order to strengthen your role in the ECOWAS region, we must fast-track your election by Direct Universal Suffrage. This will give more powers to our Regional Parliament. Following this call, I believe that this Legislature under your leadership, could transform itself into a transitional Parliament’’, he concluded.