By Omar Bah
The head of the Ecowas election observer team in the just concluded presidential election in The Gambia Ernest Bai Koroma, a former president of Sierra Leone has tasked Ecowas to insist on making it a policy for all West African countries to have term limits in their constitutions.
“We have to ensure that it becomes a policy of Ecowas to insist on a term limit. I think term limits must be supported and issues of good governance are addressed at all times along the way. We should have a look at every president’s way of governance because these are the early warning signs that are not adhered to,” Koroma told journalists at a post-election press conference.
The former Sierra Leonean leader further disclosed that the issue of term limit has been discussed in Ecowas meetings, even as recently as a couple of weeks ago at the reviewing of its protocol on good governance and democracy.
“The position as at now is that where you have a term limit the countries must ensure that they adhere strictly to the provisions of the term limit and where you don’t have a term limit as it is the case with The Gambia, it is left with Gambians to review their constitution to consider implementing term limit,” Koroma said.
President Koroma added: “Generally, we hold the view that the term limit gives the voting population a choice, and to be fair, in the end, a president who is lucky to serve two terms, I don’t see anything more you can offer beyond your two terms. I think the essence is to bow out”.
“However, I think we have implications here; there are times when people want to stay beyond their term limits because of the lack of guarantees of life after the presidency but I believe we have had a lot of past presidents that engage in doing so many other things after office,” he said.
A representative of the West African Elders Forum and former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo said his team is tasked to serve as preventive diplomacy. “We go into countries to interact with key stakeholders before and after elections if there are issues and since we arrived in The Gambia, we have been doing just that,” he said.
On the issues raised in terms of electoral reforms, Obasanjo said: “If the new constitution was adopted it would have accommodated the majority of the gaps identified by the observers but because of one provision in the constitution, a stalemate occurred. We have had several meetings in The Gambia and Abuja but we couldn’t agree and we agreed that we should wait until after the election”.