Experts meet in Accra to consider enhanced powers for ECOWAS parliament

Accra, Ghana (PANA) - Ghana's Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, has tasked experts charged with developing a mechanism for wider powers of the ECOWAS Parliament to come up with concrete proposals that will enable the institution influence community legal instruments.

In a message to a meeting of regional experts which opened in Accra on Monday, Ms Appiah-Oppong said "To make Parliament more effective, it must move from making non-binding decisions to making binding decisions."

The message, delivered on her behalf by Mr Samuel Nerguaye-Tetteh, the Ghana Chief State Attorney, indicated that Ms Appiah-Oppong also endorsed the proposals in the draft Supplementary Protocol being considered during the five-day meeting for the parliament to be involved in approving the budget of the Community and statutory appointees.

The meeting is being attended by experts from ministries of justice, national focal points responsible for ECOWAS affairs in Member States and members of national parliaments.

In his address, the ECOWAS Commission Vice President, Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, highlighted two possible challenges based on the 38 years of
regional integration experiences.

These are in the areas of enforcement of laws to be made by the parliament considering the difficulty experienced with the ratification and domestication of regional instruments and the role of parliament in realizing the objectives of the regional vision of a citizen-driven community.

"There is no divided opinion that the community parliament is indeed the institution that is well placed to acquaint community citizens with our vision and take home the ECOWAS project in order to gain their full support," affirmed the Vice President who chairs the Commission’s internal Committee on the enhancement project.

Describing the meeting as part of continuing efforts at "capacitating our parliament to play its assigned role in our regional integration and development process," Dr. McIntosh urged the experts to consider various implications of the proposed enhancement and "come up with realistic and pragmatic recommendations”.

“The task ahead of us is clear and we must join hands and work assiduously to empower the Community Parliament and enable that esteemed and honorable organ take its rightful place in the ECOWAS family of decision making and action-oriented institutions," he added.

The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said the institution, inaugurated in 2000, has matured from the periphery of decision making into a "formidable tool for the promotion of the goals of the Community for a prosperous and secure region".

He also explained that the draft Act, to be considered by the experts, "embodies a series of proposals which I believe will primarily deepen the involvement of the Parliament with its traditional constituency, the Community citizens and permit the parliament to effectively channel their aspirations into Community decisions".

Ekweremadu said the Parliament does not "seek to appropriate new competences from Member States and shift them to the ECOWAS Community but rather seeks to optimize the existing competence of the Community through the reorganization of mandate among community institutions".

In his goodwill message to the meeting, the Speaker of Ghana's Parliament, Honourable Edward Korbly Doe Adjaho, argued that enhanced powers would enable the Parliament to provide leadership for political dialogue to support the implementation of community protocols and regulations.

"An empowered Community parliament will be able to approach age-old challenges from a different perspective and do so with good results," he said in the speech read by the first Deputy Speaker Evo Barton-Odro.

The experts meeting will consider the provisions of the draft Act and make proposals for implementation as well as discuss its implications based of the existing power arrangements.
-0- PANA PR/VAO 23April2013

23 april 2013 14:35:18

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