By Edrissa Jallow
The Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs, Peace and Security and Africa Peer Review Mechanism, of The Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) Parliament, Hon Edwin Snowe Junior urged Gambian President Adama Barrow and Senegalese President Macky Sall to abstain from contesting a third term.
Hon Snowe Junior delivered this statement to members of the press on Tuesday 15th August 2022 during a briefing in the Gambia. According to the Chairperson, ECOWAS delegates visited Senegal to discourage President Macky Sall from contesting ahead of their 2024 Presidential elections.
“We were just from Senegal and we have been very robust in discouraging the President from attempting to serve a third term in office,” said the Chairperson of Political Affairs.
With regards to the Gambian President, Chairperson Snow Junior hopes that “after [serving] the second term [President Adama Barrow] will respectfully leave office so that the Gambian people or he himself may also have the pleasure of seeing a successor” as “It is very important for our (ECOWAS) region”.
He seized the opportunity to encourage other “Presidents to desist from running for a third term”. Chairperson Snowe Junior also urged the Gambia’s National Assembly to pass a bill where the President will not dream of contesting a third mandate giving examples of Nigeria and Ghana. He describes the problems within the ECOWAS region as “enormous”.
ECOWAS Parliament Promises to Introduce Two Terms Bill
Responding to questions from the press, ECOWAS Parliament’s Chairperson on Political Affairs noted that the Banjul meeting will also be “discussing good governance … that will encourage governments and Presidents in the region to desist from the third term because you ambush your constitution and give the citizens the right to ambush your tenure”.
“Now we want to introduce a good governance bill where no president will seek a third term,” said Chairperson Snowe Junior.
Hon Snowe Junior explained that “If the citizens are comfortable with you and you have done well in your first term, then you have a second term but most governments will wait until they enter their second term and say we want to make the constitution better for the people and if they change the constitution, they will go on to serve a new term under the pretext that it’s a new republic”.
He highlighted that “corruption is killing our region and the issue of a third term too. Sometimes, people are afraid to talk about the issue of a third term but it is only fair that when you serve your people for two terms you step down”.
Hon Snowe Junior: “We have Problems with Countries Domesticating the Law”
Chairperson Snowe Junior, also outlined that among ECOWAS’ major challenges is the reluctance of member States to domesticate community laws developed by the ECOWAS Parliament. He explained that the ECOWAS system is structured where documents to be changed or adopted are proceeded to parliament to develop opinions.
He added that, after Parliamentarians develop their opinions on the document it is passed it on to the Council of Ministers which he said involves the Foreign Affairs Ministers. After this stage, the document is then passed on to the West African Heads of States for another review. After the Heads of States review the document ECOWAS then distributes it to the member countries’ respective National Assemblies to ratify and pass into law.
However, when “you go to that country, the Parliament of that country (who is) now supposed to ratify, to domesticate, so it forms part of the local laws, most of the times, we (ECOWAS) have problems with the countries domesticating the law even though it is a community text”.
“So now we have to come to make sure that we put together a strong mechanism. That’s why every country has a delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament”. Highlighting the main function of the ECOWAS delegation Hon Snowe Junior added that all ECOWAS Parliamentarians should submit the legislation to the Speaker of their respective Assembly for consideration.