2nd Extraordinary ECOWAS Parliamentary Session Will hold via Videoconference

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Sidie Mohamed Tunis, Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament

By Abdul Malik Bangura

This medium was reliably informed that  the Second Extraordinary session of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is due to hold from July 20th to July 25thth 2020, virtually (online).

Sidie Mohamed Tunis, Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament has said in Freetown that he directed for the conveying of the extraordinary session to get the participation of the entire membership of the ECOWAS Parliament to discuss important referrals received from the ECOWAS Commission and also to consider the Parliament input in the implementation of the community levy.

His Excellency Sidie Mohamed Tunis confirmed that there are certain documents which are going to be tabled by the ECOWAS Commission at the Heads of States meeting, but procedurally these documents are to be reviewed by the ECOWAS Parliament for the opinions of the members.

He added that though the Bureau of ECOWAS Parliament, which consists of the Speaker and his four (4) Deputies has the power to review and approve the documents on behalf of Parliament in line with the supplementary Act 2016, but he says he feels it right to get the input and thorough scrutiny from all the Parliament’s 115 (one hundred and fifteen) members.

Meanwhile,  it could be recalled that the first inaugural session of the Parliament this 2020 was held in Niamey, Niger, in March this year and was convened by the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of States and President of Niger, His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou. That session saw Sierra Leonean Member of Parliament Honourable Sidie Mohamed Tunis unanimously elected as Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament.

The second extraordinary session of the Parliament in 2020 which is going to take place virtually from 20th to 25th July 2020 will have the composite activities lined up as follows:

  1. Meeting of the Bureau: 20th July 2020
  2. Meeting of the Conference of Bureau: 20th July 2020
  3. Extraordinary Session: 21st to 25th July 2020

Meanwhile, it is prudent to note that the Bureau of the ECOWAS Parliament is the governing organ of the Parliament. The meeting of the Bureau on the 20th July 2020 shall consist of the Speaker and all the four (4) Deputy Speakers of the Parliament. At their meeting, they will determine the draft agenda and all programmes or business of the extraordinary session.

Furthermore, the meeting of the Conference of Bureau on the 20th July 2020, shall consist of the Bureau, the Chairmen and the first Rapporteur of each of the Standing Committees. They work with the Bureau of the Parliament to prepare the draft annual work-plan taking into account the priority Community programmes.

The ECOWAS Parliament is composed of 115 seats from each of the 15 Members States. States have a guaranteed minimum of five seats. The remaining seats are shared on the basis of population. Consequently, Nigeria has 35 seats, Ghana 8 seats, Cote d’Ivoire 7 seats, while Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal have 6 seats each. The others – Benin, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo have 5 seats each.

The ECOWAS Parliament, also known as the Community Parliament, is a forum for dialogue, consultation and consensus for representatives of the people of West Africa with the aim of promoting integration. It was established under Article 6 and 13 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty of 1993. The Protocol relating to the Parliament was signed in Abuja on 6th August, 1994 and entered into force in 14th March, 2002. It provides for the structure, composition, competence and other matters relating to the Parliament. At its 25th session held in Dakar, Senegal on the 21st and 22nd December, 2001 the Authority of Heads of State and Government decided that Abuja should be the headquarters of the Parliament.

Normally, based on directives from the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, the Parliament chooses a venue to convey their meetings. However, this particular 2nd extraordinary session is to hold via videoconference apparently because of the dreadful impact of Coronavirus in the West Africa sub-region. So far as at Tuesday 7th July 2020, according to estimates from the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) 88,453 (eighty eight thousand four hundred and fifty three) cases of Coronavirus have been confirmed in the region, with 51,535 (fifty one thousand five hundred and thirty five) recoveries and 1,473 (one thousand four hundred and seventy three) deaths and still 35,445 (thirty five thousand four hundred and forty five) active cases in the region.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has caused all ECOWAS Members to shutdown airports and because of social distancing, individual conveying for the 2nd ECOWAS extraordinary session is impossible. However, the Parliament based on the directive of the Speaker, His Excellency Sidie Mohamed Tunis has resolved to hold a videoconference 2nd extraordinary session from the 20th to 21st July 2020.

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