By Omar Bah
A Ghanaian MP and member of the Ecowas Parliament committee on legal affairs and human rights has advised the community to avert third term bids in The Gambia, Benin, Togo, and Guinea Bissau.
This is the second time an Ecowas MP is addressing third term issues in West Africa after Senegalese president Macky Sall announced he is not seeking one.
A week ago, the chairman of the Ecowas parliament’s committee on political affairs, Liberian MP Melvin Snowe Jr, advised President Adama Barrow not to consider running for a third term using constitutional technicalities.
In his turn, Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah said as the sub-regional bloc started strongly kicking against amending constitutions to allow presidents to bid for a third term, (with Senegal being a success story) Ecowas should strongly keep its focus on The Gambia, Togo, Benin, and Ivory Coast.
“In the case of The Gambia, one, the country does not have a term limit; we should be able to tell them to put a term limit as per the term limit plate developed by Ecowas. This would help ensure that President Adama Barrow steps down when he finishes his second term. He should step aside for someone else; but from every indication from what we are hearing, it is likely that he will run again; we need to put our satellites on that,” the Ecowas parliamentarian said.
Commenting on parliamentarians in the sub-region, Bedzrah added: “We are our own enemies; we create the problems for ourselves. As MPs, we should stand by our own standard of democracy that no one should temper with the law in our constitutions on third terms.”
Speaking on the just-ended political tension in Senegal, Mr Bedzrah said: “Blame it on MPs; for instance, in the case of Senegal, our colleague Vilane, who we know spoke his mind, was supporting the third-term bid of President Macky Sall until he changed his mind recently. I was surprised that a person of that stature was going that way; he should have said that their constitution should not be amended.”
“So, if you have people of that nature in the Community Parliament who would be singing the praises of their president and allow their constitution to be tempered with, then we have a challenge,” he said.
Bedzrah said the majority of his colleagues are worried over Ecowas inability to speak against their peers, who have the penchant of amending their national constitutions to run for third term.
Speaking on whether the current Chairman of Ecowas, Bola Tinubu, would be any different, Bedzrah said it’s too early to make that assessment. “But following what he has done so far, going by that, certain things should not be done in Nigeria. If you sack the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and say no crude oil should be processed outside Nigeria and you are being listened to, then it means he can do the job,” he said.