Editorial: Defying ECOWAS Rules can make you the Next Chair





The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is said to be convening a meeting in Ivory Coast’s Capital Yamoussoukro for the 44th Ordinary Session of the Conference of ECOWAS Heads of States and Government. The ECOWAS Chairmanship is rotated within member states and is voted into every two years. The current Ivorian President Alasan Wattara is the current outgoing chairman.

The vibes in the media is that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh is said to be en-route to Ivory Coast to attend the meeting. He has reportedly been lobbying to become the next chair of the Regional body. This is evidence in his meeting of the regional leaders within the last several months including Nigerian President, sending his delegation to Blaise Campoare of Burkina Faso.

While President Jammeh has defied every ECOWAS ruling on his human rights records and earned him a boycott of the regional body during his last President elections, the visit of the ECOWAS Parliamentary speaker Ike Ekweremadu to the Gambia few days ago may signal the support for Jammeh’s chairmanship. The Parliamentary speaker’s pronouncements that “Jammeh has always kept within the bounds of the law” is a slap on Gambians’ face and at best the epitome of ignorance and blatant deception on President Jammeh’s records.

Readers may recall that President Jammeh is in defiance of two landmark ECOWAS rulings on the Gambian President’s records. The case of Journalist Musa Saidykhan who was tortured beyond any believe was heard by the ECOWAS Court twice which found the government culpeble of illegal detention and torture and order it to pay $200,-000 to compensate the victim. To date Jammeh has paid a deaf ear to that ruling. Veteran Journalist Deyda Hydara’s brutal killings were also heard by the ECOWAS court and Gambia Gov’t were ordered to compensate the family of Deyda Hydara and credibly investigate the case, and to date Jammeh ignored that ruling. The very ECOWAS body boycotted Gambia’s Presidential elections in 2011 claiming that the conditions did not meet the standard of free and fair elections as recognized by ECOWAS. Where in the world then does the Speaker of ECOWAS parliament get the evidence that Jammeh acts within the boundaries of the law. What law – his own?

For the longest time in history Africa’s governing problems have been associated with its failed leadership. If leaders like President Jammeh can defy the law, act irresponsible on his regional and international obligations yet be voted into a chairmanship of a regional body, then that spells the doom of this subregion. Did the ECOWAS Parliamentary speaker in fact understand and know what he was talking about when he said “President Jammeh as one such person who not only insisted on the rule of law but has always kept within the bounds of the law” What law and which constitution did President Jammeh insist on? Was the speaker truthful or simply being bought cash to spew something he does not know about? Did he knew that both house of Parliament in Gambia and the judiciary are puppets and rubber stamps of the Gambian President? Is he aware of President Jammeh’s irresponsible behavior in pulling out the country from the Commonwealth of nations and issue constant threats against his citizens? Is he aware of the recent rant against former colonial powers and President Jammeh blatant disrespect for freedom of the press, democracy and Human Rights in Gambia? Was he speaking from his brain or his pocket?


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ECOWAS Parliamentary Speaker Ike Ekweremadu

It is disgraceful for people like Ike Ekweremadu to hold any position of higher authority in Africa for they simply are corrupt and inept African leaders who only see the people of Africa and their plight in the prism of dictators like President Jammeh. Mr. Ike epitomizes what is fundamentally wrong with not only the ECOWAS body but African leaders themselves. Regardless of whether President Jammeh is voted for the Chairman of ECOWAS, one thing is fundamentally clear, birds of the same feathers flies together.  For President Jammeh to defy ECOWAS courts, free and fair elections processes, Human Rights among other treaties only to have the guts to lobby for the Chairmanship; show the sorry state of leadership crisis African continue to witness. As US President Obama once said “Africa does not need strong men, but strong leaders” ECOWAS is showing exactly the opposite!


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