Dr. Sidie Mohammed Tunis, the outgoing Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, has emphasised the necessity for direct elections of Members of Parliament (MPs) to elevate the institution’s legitimacy and relevance, transforming it from an advisory body to a legislative powerhouse.
Dr. Tunis underscored the imperative for the incoming ECOWAS Parliament administration to prioritise the continuation of efforts initiated by the fifth legislature towards implementing direct elections of MPs.
Speaking from Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dr. Tunis highlighted the prevailing frustration among MPs, stemming from their perception of their role as merely proposing resolutions that often remain unactioned.
He emphasised that, without direct elections, the parliament lacks the mandate to independently enact policies.Dr. Tunis illustrated this with the example of resource allocation, stressing the need for MPs to have autonomy in decision-making regarding financial matters sourced from the Community levy.
However, the current setup lacks this autonomy, necessitating closer collaboration between the parliament and the ECOWAS Commission to ensure effective governance.
Reflecting on the accomplishments of the Fifth Legislature under his tenure, Dr. Tunis commended its efforts in raising awareness among citizens about the benefits of transitioning to direct suffrage for the Community Parliament, contrasting it with the existing selection process.
He advocated for universal suffrage, asserting that it would bestow greater democratic legitimacy upon the ECOWAS Parliament, fortifying its representative capacity.
Dr. Tunis urged the incoming leadership of the Sixth Parliament to escalate the campaign for universal suffrage to new heights, consolidating efforts towards a more transparent and participatory electoral process.