Monrovia – The First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament has resumed with the Liberian Delegation fully represented, except for Montserrado County Senator George Weah, who is currently in Paris, France as the session was ongoing on Wednesday.
Session at the parliament began on May 10 and ends on May 25 and the Montserrado County lawmaker and standard bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change have been absent from the beginning of session till now.
Senator Weah was nowhere to be found during last Tuesday’s session as the Liberian delegation presented its 2017 Country Report to the body.
The report was read by Representative Edwin Snowe (Mont. District #6).
It is not clear what the lawmaker is doing in Paris when and is he expected to be in Abuja, Nigeria.
Ironically, Senator Weah was quizzed about his continuous absence from sessions at ECOWAS during an interview with Radio France International in Paris on Tuesday but he was quick to spurn it.
“It’s fallacy—we’re in a political time. People against my ideology will say what they want to say. If you say I don’t go to ECOWAS – there’s no facts.”
Senator Weah is noted for notoriously abandoning sessions at the regional parliament which, during its last gathering held in February, prompted the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo, to issue a memorandum introducing a new set of regulations to govern sessions, meetings and missions.
Then, the Senator was paying an unofficial visit to the President of Ghana, Nana Akufu-Addo.
“The bureau of ECOWAS Parliament has noted with utmost concern that a good number of its members have not been demonstrating the expected measure of diligence through regular attendance of session as well as other important meetings and/or missions,” stated the memo.
“The regional parliament also observed that other members who endeavored to attend sessions and meetings hardly stay through the entire duration and tend to take their leave just after collecting their allowances due them.
“At a personal level, I need hardly emphasize that this conduct is not benefitting our highly exalted offices as representatives of over 300 million citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
“Even more regrettably, this kind of conduct amounts to a betrayal of the confidence reposed on us by the West African populace who are anxiously looking up to us to turn around their chequered fortunes.”
He appealed to his colleagues to consider their seats at the parliament as a sacred trust which must be treated as such.
He further noted that the Bureau of Parliament in consonance with the situation has decided 60 percent of allowances due would be disbursed while the balance of 40% will be reserved until the end of sittings.
In addition, members who have to unavoidably have to depart sitting would have to forgo the allowances due for that period.
It can be recalled that in May 2016, Senator Weah, who headed the Liberian delegation to the ECOWAS parliament, transferred his official responsibility to Representative Edwin Snowe to make Liberia’s case at the regional body.
Senator Weah has also been criticized by residents of Montserrado County for not adequately representing the county in the Senate – with some branding him as “bobo” (dumb) lawmaker.
Meanwhile, the Liberian delegation, in its 2017 Liberia’s Country Report to the ECOWAS Parliament, highlighted progress made in the country since it presented its last Country Report about seven months ago during the regional body’s Second Ordinary Session in 2016.
A release from the Liberian Embassy in Abuja says Montserrado County Representative Edwin Snowe, Jr. read the report on behalf of the Liberian delegation on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, during the ongoing First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja.
Liberia’s other members to the ECOWAS Parliament include Senator Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba County, Representatives Jefferson Karmoh of Sinoe County, who is also the Parliament’s third Deputy Speaker, and Haja Fatta Siryon of Bomi County.
According to a recent release from Abuja, the 2017 Liberia Country’s report, among others, discussed progress in the political and security situation, the status of the implementation of the community texts, ratification of ECOWAS community protocols and conventions, implementation of the community programs and the refugee situation in the region.
The report also touched on the pending electoral process in Liberia, the status of implementation of the ECOWAS Macro-Economic Program as it relates to the level of achievement of convergence criteria, the status of implementation of the ECOWAS Infrastructural and Transportation Policies and Programs and sensitization activities carried out by parliamentarians.
On the political situation in the country, the report says Liberia continues to enjoy a peaceful democracy ahead of the October general elections: “There have not been any major political conflicts in terms of violence or crisis.”
The report then outlined progress made already by the National Elections Commission (NEC), including the Commission’s recently released timetable for the electoral progress.
On the Code of Conduct, the report added, “On March 3, 2017, after two years on the dockets of the Supreme Court of Liberia, the [Supreme Court] bench on March 3, 2017, in a 3-2 vote ruled that the Code was constitutional and does not in any way violate any provision of the Constitution”.
On security, the Liberian delegation observes that the country continues to support African solidarity in the area of security as the recipe to regional peace, democracy, and good governance.
“Currently, Liberia is contributing troops to ECOWAS’ initiative towards the defense of democracy, peace, and security in Mali.
Unfortunately, Sergeant Ansu Sheriff of the Liberian Contingent lost his life when their base was attacked wounding other members of his Unit.
Liberia also played a pivotal role in the peaceful resolution of the Gambian political stalemate that ended peacefully without bloodshed.”
The report said that as head of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, Liberia is currently leading a peaceful settlement to the ongoing political situation in Guinea Bissau.
On the regional front, the report noted Liberia’s considerable progress in achieving key deliverables under President Sirleaf as Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS.
“Liberia has demonstrated remarkable leadership in addressing some of the critical political, social and economic crises confronting the region.
It has supported peace initiatives and political governance in the region.
Similarly, it has become a key player in driving the region’s health reform process as well as advancing critical agenda to address and enhance its financial and economic viability.”
The Senegalese and Guinean delegations also presented their respective country reports during today’s session of the Fourth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament.
The ongoing first ordinary session, which opened on the 10th of this month, closes on the 25th of the same month.
Comprising of 115 members from all of the 15 countries of ECOWAS, the Parliament sits in session three times a year with two ordinary sessions in May and September.
There may, however, be an extraordinary session at any time in the course of the year to discuss any urgent and specific agenda.