West Africa: Defend Rights of Citizens

ECOWAS urges political leaders

Ahead of the 2023 Presidential and legislative elections in Liberia, the office of the Special Representative of the President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission here has hosted a one-day consultative meeting with heads of political parties.

Speaking at the meeting, the Resident Representative of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia Ambassador Josephine Nkrumah urged members and heads of political parties to defend the rights and freedom of citizens.

“Political Parties must fiercely protect and defend the rights and freedom of citizens through the system of Justice and governance”, Madam Nkrumah says.

She made the call on Thursday, August 4, during a one-day consultative meeting with heads of political parties in the country.

“As we inch into 2023 general elections, these are issues that must be on our front burners, drive our agenda for Liberia, what matters to ordinary Liberians, what is reflected in our manifestos and utterances” she emphasized.

She notes that there might be deficiencies in the way political parties represent the views of ordinary citizens, of how responsive they are to their aspirations, further urging, “we must double our efforts, our commitment, our passion to serve.”

Madam Nkrumah continues that refining of the democratic process that oils the wheels of Liberia’s development can’t be achieved without active, vibrant and objective participation.

“You must serve as platform through which Liberian citizens can express their aspirations, interest and grievances which drive the process of development and the nation’s destiny.”

She however said political parties’ members and leaders become alive to their sacrosanct role of working for the wellbeing of their citizens by enhancing vibrant civic engagement and national discourse that assures accountability, rule of law, inclusiveness, and the tenets of democracy.

When the average Liberian can reap the dividends and benefits of our democracy, then and only then, we can call ourselves politicians ruling or opposition, she adds.

She says Ecowas remains a faithful and committed partner to Liberia, assuring that the regional body will work with Liberians through the dark, and even in these times as they stride to consolidate their democracy.

Madam Nkrumah outlines three things that she says are required for active involvement of political parties to ensure the adherence to Ecowas principles, including recognition, promotion and protection of human and people’s rights in accordance with the provision of the African Charter on human and people’s rights.

She also names accountability, economic and social justice as well as popular participation in development, and promotion and consolidation of a democratic system of governance in each member state as envisaged by the declaration of political principles adopted in Abuja on July 6th, 1991.

The consultative meeting brought together heads of Liberia’s major political parties including the Ex-ruling Unity Party, the Musa Bility’s faction of the Liberty Party, People Liberation Party, All Liberian Party, Vision for Liberian Transformation, Movement for one Liberia, and People Unification Party, among others.

Earlier, the Political Affairs Officer in the Office of the ECOWAS Resident Representative, Mr. Nathaniel B. Walker said, the gathering provided an opportunity to introduce the new Ecowas Resident Representative to Liberia, who took office in March this year.

He said prior to Madam Nkrumah’s appointment to Liberia as ECOWAS Resident Representative, she served as second female executive chair of Ghana National Commission for Civic Education or (NCCE) with the mandate to educate Ghanaians on their civic rights and responsibilities and inculcate the values of democracy in all Ghanaians. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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