Members of the ECOWAS Parliament have called for urgent actions from the Community’s institutions to stop the distortions of democratic rule in Member States.
The Members of Parliament made the call on Wednesday, at a technical session of the ongoing High-level Parliamentary seminar in Winneba, Ghana.
The parliamentary seminar with the theme, “Two decades of democratic elections in ECOWAS Member States: Achievements, Challenges and the Way Forward”, seeks to proffer solutions to electoral inconsistencies in Member States.
Hon. Ladi Ayamba, a Member of Parliament from Ghana, who lamented the situation, said ECOWAS has solutions to the problems, but needs to have the political will to take affirmative actions, pointing at the situations in Mali and Guinea that could have been averted if ECOWAS was proactive.
“To me, it was a shame that ECOWAS went to Guinea for mediation, when an action could have been taken when the people opposed the change of constitution, which led to the coup d’état.
“ECOWAS had every opportunity before the situation escalated, but treated the situation as very simple, and then it became a big problem.
“It is about time ECOWAS sits up and takes actions, before situations become problems,”Ayamba said.
Similarly, Hon. Fatoumata Njai, representing Banjul South, the Gambia, lamented the recent incidences of Coup d’état in Mali and Guinea, expressing fears that it may soon become a norm in other Member States.
Njali said it was important for ECOWAS bodies to act now that the problem is “domestic” before ECOWAS begins to solicit international interventions.
“We thought Coup d’état was a thing of the past but, unfortunately, it is becoming a trend.
“First, it was the unlawful amendment of constitution in Mali, then Guinea, then Cote d’ Ivoire, and we know what is happening in my country, the Gambia.
“We beg you not to sleep and turn a blind eye to this, stop it now before it becomes too late,”Njai said.
Prof. Dakas Dakas, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Expert at the seminar, also reiterated the need for proactive actions, especially in countries where there are already threats of constitutional alterations.
Dakas said that laws must be put in place by the regional institutions to stop amendments of constitutions by Presidents, who want to remain longer in power.
“ECOWAS needs to be more proactive instead of a fire brigade approach.
“It is clear that there is room for improvements, and it is obvious that there is enough work to be done in proactive engagements.
“It is important that a diversity of mechanisms are put in place and commitments are made to advancing the cause of democracy in the sub-region,”Dakas said. (NAN)
UN Secretary-General visits Buhari At State House
The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday paid visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja.
He was received by top government officials.
Buhari’s conversation with Guterres centred on the need to ensure peaceful and democratic elections as well as the robust participation of women and young people in all areas.
President Buhari also thanked the UN boss for the visit, stressing that it came at a time when the world is focussing on the Russia/Ukraine crisis. Buhari also believes that the visit underscores the assurance that the world is with Nigeria.
On his part, the UN scribe called for developed nations to ramp up vaccine support to countries in the global north, halt the asymmetrical distribution and reform the global financial system.
Earlier in the day, he visited the UN House in Abuja alongside some top officials and diplomats of the agency.
Guterres is on a two-day official visit to Nigeria – the first of such.
The UN chief had arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday and also visited Borno State where he proposed the reintegration of repentant terrorists. This, he said, is key to the restoration of peace in the North East region.
“The best thing we can do for peace is to reintegrate those, that in a moment of despair, became terrorists but want to become now citizens and to contribute to the well-being of their brothers and sisters,” he told a gathering at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.
The UN scribe is also expected to perform the wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the August 26, 2011, suicide bomb attack victims.
Ukraine : UN Agencies Condemn Attacks On Health Care Facilities
UN agencies on Sunday called for an immediate ceasefire and an end to attacks on healthcare professionals and facilities in Ukraine, describing such incidents as acts of “unconscionable cruelty”.
Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 31 attacks on health care have been documented via the WHO’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care (SSA), the heads of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Population Fund and the World Health Organization said in a joint statement.
“To attack the most vulnerable -– babies, children, pregnant women and those already suffering from illness and disease, and health workers risking their own lives to save lives –- is an act of unconscionable cruelty,” they said, calling for an immediate ceasefire.
In 24 of the reported attacks, health care facilities were damaged or destroyed, while in five cases ambulances were hit. A total of 12 people were killed and 34 injured, according to the UN agencies’ statement.
“Humanitarian partners and health care workers must be able to safely maintain and strengthen essential health service delivery, including immunisation against Covid-19 and polio, and the supply of life-saving medicines for civilians across Ukraine as well as to refugees crossing into neighbouring countries,” said the statement, signed by UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell, UNFPA counterpart Natalia Kanem and WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
At least three people were killed, including a young girl, in an attack Wednesday on a children’s hospital in Mariupol in southern Ukraine.
According to the United Nations’ reproductive health agency two other Ukrainian maternity hospitals had already been attacked and destroyed before that strike.
“Attacks on health care and health workers directly impact people’s ability to access essential health services -– especially women, children and other vulnerable groups,” the UN agency chiefs said in their statement on Sunday.
“We have already seen that the health care needs of pregnant women, new mothers, younger children and older people inside Ukraine are rising, while access to services is being severely limited by the violence,” the statement added.
Oxygen and medical supplies, including for the management of pregnancy complications, are running dangerously low, they warned.
“The health care system in Ukraine is clearly under significant strain, and its collapse would be a catastrophe. Every effort must be made to prevent this from happening,” the UN agencies warned.
“We call for an immediate ceasefire, which includes unhindered access so that people in need can access humanitarian assistance. A peaceful resolution to end the war in Ukraine is possible.”
Yoon Suk-yeol wins South Korea’s presidential election
Yoon Suk Yeol, a conservative former top prosecutor, has been elected South Korea’s new president, defeating his chief liberal rival in one of the country’s most closely fought presidential elections.
With more than 98 percent of the ballots counted, Yoon had 48.6 percent of the votes against his rival Lee Jae-myung’s 47.8 percent.
Yoon said on Thursday that he would honour the constitution and the parliament and work with opposition parties when he takes office as the country’s next leader, calling the election result a “victory of the great people”.
“Our competition is over for now,” he said in an acceptance speech, thanking and consoling Lee and other rivals.
“We have to join hands and unite into one for the people and the country.”
At a separate ceremony with supporters, Yoon said he would put top priority on “national unity,” adding all people should be treated equally regardless of their regional, political and socioeconomic differences.
“I would pay attention to people’s livelihoods, provide warm welfare services to the needy, and make utmost efforts so that our country serves as a proud, responsible member of the international community and the free world,” he said.
Yoon is to take office in May and serve a single five-year term as leader of the world’s 10th-largest economy.
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