By Alf Soninke
I just listened/viewed the QTV 20:00 hrs GMT news and heard the new Ecowas Commission President spell out their thinking on the issue of term limits for heads of state in member countries.
According to Dr Omar Alieu Touray, the regional body does not intend to pursue the matter of a specific term limit for leaders of Ecowas countries.
Rather, Dr Touray told the Ecowas parliament this week, Ecowas will focus on monitoring how leaders observe the term of office specified in each member country’s constitution, and to require Ecowas leaders to respect the provisions stipulated in their country’s constitution.
Meaning, if the constitution stipulates a specific term limit; for example, two terms only, then it will be so.
However, where a term limit is not stated in a states’s constitution, so be it!
And so in cases such as under the current constitution of the Gambia, where there is no set term limit – it means the incumbent could go on seeking re-election, and this would be legitimate so long as voters return him/her to office endlessly, never mind he/she has been in office already for as many as four terms and still counting, as in Togo.
Should this be the position now adopted by Ecowas, as stated openly by the new president of the Ecowas secretariat, then do not be surprised if coups continue to happen, when people (including members of the military establishment) become frustrated with their rulers who overstay their welcome.
In any case, this is a very retrogressive move considering that not long ago it was reportedly being debated at Ecowas that a two-term limit becomes the norm, and the expectation was that the regional organization will come round to endorsing that position. But it’s now clear that this will not be the case.
Instead, we heard Ecowas leaders deciding at their latest December 2022 summit meeting in Abuja to set up a joint military force, which is to be deployed whenever and wherever necessary to fight terrorism, as well as also prevent military coups in member states.
Now how that is to be done is debatable, as it will mean sending soldiers to fight soldiers and stop them from unseating civilian leaders who are seen by their people to be abusing office and power.
The reality though is that all this must be understood in the context of the West (US, France and UK) currently hatching schemes to contain China and Russia, and to maintain their neo-colonial influence in Africa.
They are doing this through all the ongoing military cooperation and training activities underway through the US Africa Command, French military bases in West Africa – disguised as offering them assistance to fight terrorism – and you want to ask where are these so-called terrorists coming from, and who is arming them?
Remember also that there is talk of UK forces being stationed in Ghana, plus the fact that right now we have UK military trainers for the Gambia armed forces, which is being spinned as preparing them for UN peacekeeping operations.
Also, see the increased military equipment of the Senegalese armed forces by France – and there you have it all – preparing and equipping our militaries to be at the service of the American empire and our former colonial masters, and to help them realize their new goals in Africa at a time of intense global geopolitical competition with China and Russia.
Definitely, these decisions by Ecowas leaders must be understood in this light!
Unfortunately for them and their aides at the national and regional (Ecowas) levels, these decisions they take show how they are failing Africa and its peoples at this crucial era in world history and will, no doubt, surly the legacy of the Ecowas leaders and national and international civil servants who support such self-serving decisions.
Indeed, the insecurity we now see in Africa is fostered by interests which want to promote instability in Africa, as this facilitates their continuing access to Africa’s natural resources for their voracious economies.
Thus you see the political shenanigans of leaders like Macky Sall of Senegal add to this climate of uncertainty in Africa – which serves the interest of those who seek military solutions for African problems.
This is so as President Sall will not say whether or not he will seek a third term in Senegal’s 2024 presidential election; and, unfortunately jurists in Senegal are not agreed on the constitutional position regarding whether or not Sall can participate in this election.
There is also the situation in Gambia, where the draft 2020 Constitution, which proposed a two-term limit, was not adopted by the country’s National Assembly.
Thus the 1997 Constitution which has no term limit stated therein is the prevailing law of the land, under which the incumbent, President Adama Barrow, was elected in 2016, and won re-election in 2021 and could go on seeking re-election for as long as there is no term limit in the country’s constitution. This is what the Gambian president of the Ecowas Commission secretariat has just told the Ecowas parliament!