ECOWAS Justice Ministers meet in Abidjan

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - ECOWAS Justice Ministers Thursday kick-started a two-day meeting in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, to consider a revised draft Act for enhancing the powers of the 13-year-old community parliament.

The Act is in response to the 2006 decision by regional leaders through a supplementary protocol which provides that the “powers of the ECOWAS Parliament shall be progressively enhanced from advisory to co-decision making and subsequently to a law making role in the areas to be defined by the Authority of Heads of State and Government”.

The ministerial meeting of the technical committee of the legal and judicial affairs of the community will examine the adequacy of the proposed Act, which originated from the Parliament but has since undergone significant transformations to align with the realities of the Community’s power arrangement.

At inception in 2000, the 120-member parliament, reduced to 115 after the withdrawal of  Mauritania from the Community, was vested with advisory powers focusing mainly on issues of human rights and fundamental freedoms, with members nominated from the parliaments during a transition period.

This instrument was clarified in 2006 by Heads of State and Government with the adoption of a Decision that defined the modalities for the effective discharge of its advisory powers, defining the procedures for interaction between the parliament and other community institutions.

The draft Supplementary Act to be examined by the ministers proposes a hybrid arrangement for composing the parliament, where national parliaments constitute electoral colleges for electing the members instead of through direct suffrage as envisaged for this stage of the evolution of the institution.

The new powers proposed by parliament in the draft Act include legislative, budgetary, oversight, confirmation of the appointments of statutory appointees, initiation of “modern and uniform laws” and the creation of a conciliation committee drawn from parliament and the Commission to resolve divergent views.

The recommendations of the ministers' meeting, which were preceded by that of legal experts, will be submitted for the approval of the Council of Ministers and Heads of State and Government later in the year.
-0- PANA SEG 12Sept2013

12 september 2013 12:56:21




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