The Jophus Anamuah-Mensah Conference Centre at the North Campus of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), has played host to the opening ceremony of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliamentary Seminar.
The weeklong seminar, expected to end on Friday, 22nd October 2021, was under the theme “Two Decades of Democratic Elections in the ECOWAS Member States: Achievements, Challenges and the Way Forward”.
The seminar aims to appraise the electoral systems in the Member States to identify the challenges and put forward proposals for possible solutions to the various shortcomings observed in the organisation of elections.
The conference also intends to identify the deficiencies as well as good practices for conducting elections in the Member States within the context of existing legal, institutional and material frameworks. It again seeks to make recommendations for new frameworks and mechanisms to improve existing legal, institutional and material frameworks for conducting elections in the Member States.
The President of the Republic of Ghana and current Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, His Excellency (H. E.), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at the opening, lauded the Parliament for the theme asserting the relevance evidenced in the light of recent happenings in the ECOWAS community, especially in Guinea and Mali.
H. E. Akufo-Addo underscored that the use of the phrase, “free and fair elections”, which remains the bedrock of any genuine democracy and the running of credible elections poses a big challenge to many democracies including those in West Africa.
“On several occasions in West Africa unfortunately, the contrary is often time the case. Recent events in Mali and Guinea have undermined democratic governance in our region. ECOWAS, whose authority I have the honour to be the current Chair, is unreservedly committed to maintaining democratic governance in the community. That is why both Guinea and Mali, foundation members of the community, have been suspended from ECOWAS pending the restoration of democratic rule,” he stressed.
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The President of the Republic of Ghana charged parliamentarians to take a critical look at the effectiveness of the ECOWAS community’s electoral systems and processes to provide free and fair elections to guarantee accountable governance.
His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo being presented with a royal artefact by the Paramount Chief, Neenyi Ghartey VII
The Member of Parliament (MP), Effutu Constituency and Head of the Ghanaian Delegation, Hon. Alexander Afenyo-Markin, expressed joy and pride to welcome the delegates back to Winneba. “This is the second time in three months that Effutu has had the rare honour of hosting distinguished West African MPs and other international dignitaries for a crucial meeting of this pedigree.”
The opening ceremony also witnessed goodwill messages from the President of ECOWAS Commission, H. E. Jean Claude Kassi Brou; Electoral Commission Chairperson, Republic of Ghana, Mrs. Jean Mensa; and Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.
There were addresses by the Rt. Honourable Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, H. E. Dr. Sidie Mohamed Tunis, Rt. Honourable First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana, Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu and the Paramount Chief of the Effutu Traditional Council, Neenyi Ghartey VII.
Dignitaries in a pose with the President after a successful opening ceremony
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