House Speaker Condemns Criminalization Of Opposition By Regional Govts

Mohamed Sidi Tunis, Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, said on Friday in Dakar that decriminalization of opposition parties doing their function needs to be addressed.

He was speaking at the Sub-regional Dialogue on Sustaining Democratic Principles in West Africa as a panelist in the breakup session titled: “Revamping and Harnessing Sub- Regional and Continental Responses to the Unconstitutional Changes of Government in West Africa’.

Tunis – who is also an elected member of the Sierra Leone Parliament in the ruling SLPP party, said that across Africa, opposition leaders are being harassed and detained randomly for merely performing their functions.

“There can be no effective government without an effective opposition and so to ensure checks on the executive and to underpin good governance, the judiciary should be strengthened, and elections should be monitored from the preparation stages on to elections day,” he stated.

“I have been elected three times and also seen candidates lose three times, I can therefore ascertain that if someone contests and loses an election genuinely, they will readily accept the outcome, but where they believe, and the evidence is available, that they lost because the polls were rigged then that’s a recipe for trouble.”

The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament further said that “ECOWAS must do more to be involved in the preparation of elections and not just during Election Day.” He also said that “observers must be seen to be neutral and not in bed with incumbents.”

Regarding the role of civil society actors, Tunis commented that there are several instances where CSO actors would go to constituencies, constantly oppose the Member of Parliament and when elections come up, such actors present themselves as candidates. “Those actors who use the CSO platform to promote their political ambition or being bankrolled by incumbents, undermine their efficacy and neutrality,” Mr Tunis warns.

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