TERM LIMITS IN WEST AFRICA Civil Society organizations to urge ECOWAS

Dakar, Senegal – September 8th, 2015 – The West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) seeks to push the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to take the step of adopting term limits at Community level. WACSOF wants such a provision to be included in the texts governing the organization. The major Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in West Africa will be meeting in Dakar to discuss and develop a strategy for this objective.

Supported by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), WACSOF acts in consideration of its mandate and capacity as the civil society coordination hub in West Africa and in connection to its supportive role to ECOWAS agenda.

30 participants representing leading CSOs in the area of democratic governance in West Africa are meeting in Dakar (Senegal) from 9th – 10thSeptember. This meeting is being convened with experts on constitutional matters with the aim of addressing the issue of presidential term limits in West Africa. The two-day meeting will seek to harmonize the positions of civil society actors on the issue of the limitation of presidential terms in West Africa. These organizations will also discuss ways to convince ECOWAS member States to consider and adopt a common provision on this issue.

During the last Summit of Heads of State and Government held on May 19th 2015 in Accra, Ghana, the issue was raised but set aside for further consideration in the future. It is for this reason that the call for the support of term limits in the West Africa region was issued by WACSOF in June 2015 to urge West African leaders to accept the ECOWAS proposal for term limits within member States. Because, as Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), WACSOF Acting General Secretary WACSOF, pointed out, “unlimited tenures may encourage violence, dictatorship and coups as it was observed in the region and in Africa in recent years.”

Yet in the ECOWAS region, “with the exception of Togo and The Gambia, the constitutions of all the other member states, 13 out of 15 countries, are provided with term limits of not more than two tenures in office” Says Mathias Hounkpe, Political Governance Program Manager at OSIWA.

In including presidential term limits in ECOWAS texts, the organization will, however, engage in a new direction regarding a common position on democratic governance.

The West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) is an umbrella network of civil society organizations from the fifteen member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

WACSOF press release