The Ghanaian Times reports that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says that ECOWAS is reviewing its protocols on democracy and good governance to prevent a future occurrence of the recent political upheavals in Mali and Guinea.
He said the review would prevent political leaders in the sub-region from maneuvering their way to maintain power beyond the requirements of their respective constitutions.
Military insurgents in Mali and Guinea have overthrown their respective governments for amending their constitutions to extend their mandates.
ECOWAS, Chaired by President Akufo-Addo, has, as a result, suspended the membership of the two countries pending the restoration of democratic rule.
Speaking at a high-level Parliamentary Seminar at Winneba in the Central Region yesterday, President Akufo-Addo said ECOWAS was amending its protocols in line with the recent happenings in Mali and Guinea.
He said although the overthrow of any constitutionally elected government was condemnable, political maneuverings by leaders to stay in power beyond constitutional requirements should also not be countenanced.
When political leaders amend laws to extend their mandates, he said “the marriage between the elected and electorates becomes forced, environment becomes toxic and their mandate becomes precarious.”
President Akufo-Addo called on the ECOWAS Parliament to contribute to the process of reviewing the protocols on democracy and good governance to prevent a future occurrence of the situations in Guinea and Mali.
The newspaper says that the Extraordinary Session of the Fifth Legislative Assembly of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament opened yesterday in Winneba, Central Region.
On the theme, “Evaluating two decades of democratic elections in the ECOWAS region: Achievements, challenges and the way forward”, the session brought together lawmakers from the 15-member states, reporteurs, and staff of the ECOWAS Commission.
Expected to end on October 22, the meeting, which follows the de-localised one earlier held in the central regional town, is the first outside of a national capital in the history of the ECOWAS Parliament.
The session would be used to discuss matters that pose threat to democracy and political stability in West Africa, consider and adopt the draft 2020 budget of the ECOWAS Parliament as well as matters including the desire of some heads of state to amend their countries’ constitution to hold on to power.
Opening the session, Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Dr Sidie Mohamed Tunis, said the region must pay attention to the phenomenon of constitutional amendments by sitting governments ultimately to satisfy their political ambitions.
“Amending a constitution to conform to current realities is not in itself a problem. However, when the proposed amendments to the Constitution protect the governing elite at the expense of citizens or will undermine the very nature of Constitutional democracy, thereby granting the incumbent undue advantage to extend his mandate, then we have a problem.
“The truth is, this practice is eroding the gains we have made as a community, sinking the region into more chaos, and creating a serious reputational risk for ECOWAS as an institution.
“If we do not take firm and very decisive actions against this ugly trend, ECOWAS will not only be perceived as a body of failed States but will indeed fail,” he said.
According to Dr Tunis, available evidence shows that political instability in some ECOWAS Member States in recent times are linked to electoral processes that precede the casting of ballots including compilation of vorers’ register organisation of ballot materials and to the declaration of results.
These practices, if not checked, Dr Tunis said, would continue to rock the sub-region, as he asked the session to consider these in their deliberations to make the region the bastion of democracy on the continent.
Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, in a statement on his behalf by the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, cautioned against pre-election developments which manifest in violence affecting the stability of those countries.
“Hate speech, insightful language, and unfounded allegation of fraud have been defining what should be proud moments in the democratic legacies of states.”
He said though, elections were not inherently a source of violence, they could exacerbate political, ethnic, regional, and religious tensions which could spill over into violence, especially if not conducted within acceptable and transparent institutional frameworks.
Mr Bagbin said the failure of elections or their absence largely defines the predominance of political dictatorships and personalised rule in Africa, a reason why democracy must be deepened in the region and on the continent at large.
The Ghanaian Times also reports that the country’s year-on-year inflation rate inched up to 10.6 percent in September, 2021 from 9.7 percent in August, 2021, being the highest inflation figure in 4 months, the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), has announced.
It said the September inflation rate was the highest post-COVID-19 inflation figure since the country recorded the lowest inflation figure of 7.5 percent in May 2021.
The September, 2021 inflation rate was 0.9 percentage higher that the 9.7 percent recorded in August, 2021, and a month-on-month inflation between August and September 2021 was 0.6 percent (o.3 percentage point higher than what was recorded in August 2021.)
Addressing a news conference on the September 2021, Consumer Price Index and Inflation, Government Statistician, Professor Samuel K. Annim said the September inflation rate was driven by housing, water and electricity.
“Housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels continue to be the leading division driving inflation recording 18.7 percent this month (though lower than the 12 months rolling average,” he said.
He said food inflation for September stood at 11.5 percent relative to the 10.9 percent recorded the previous month.
Prof Annim said the average food inflation for the last twelve months was 10.4 per cent and a month-on-month food inflation stood at zero percent.
“Inflation for September 2021 indicates that food contribution to overall inflation has declined, contributing less than half to overall inflation,” he said.
Prof Annim said vegetables, coffee, and coffee substitutes, and cereal products recorded negative month-on-month inflation between -0.1 to -3.3 percent.