West Africa: Liberia Seeks 30 Percent Women in ECOWAS Parliament

13 September 2019

Liberia's Vice President Madam Jewel Howard Taylor calls for 30 percent women representation at the ECOWAs Parliament, which is convening an extraordinary session in Monrovia, Liberia.

She said if the regional body subscribed to a minimum of 30 percent women representation, it means governments in the ECOWAS region must support said agenda.VP Taylor made the call here Thursday, 12 September while addressing the opening of the 4th Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliamentary Seminar on Transhumance and Inter-community Conflicts in member countries.Liberia is hosting the regional parliamentary seminar for the very first time in history, bringing together Anglophone and Francophone member states.

She stresses the need for ECOWAS to invest more time, resources and energy in efforts to break down imagined barriers, perceived irreconcilable differences, as well as encourage leaders to build transparent governance systems which will remove suspicion of ills and blaming one another, the combination of which generates intolerance, hate and engenders violence.

She notes that it is imperative to underscore that farmers and herders have coexisted for centuries with mutually beneficial relationships, and that to this end, they have both generated enormous wealth and economic interdependence needed to promote socio-economic development.

Madam Taylor, herself, a former senator in Liberia, says conflicts between nomadic herders, farmers and encroaching population on the continent seem to increasingly take more and more lives. She adds that since 2018 thousands of people have been reported dead and thousands more displaced in the middle belt region of Nigeria, central region of Mali, on the border between Mali and Niger, in the Tillabery region of Niger and some parts of the Horn.

Also speaking, the Special Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia, Amb. TundeAjisomo notes that as violent conflicts appear to be declining in some of Member-States, the wave of insurgencies, banditry and kidnapping in the Sahel Region that is currently afflicting some West African countries sends alarming signals of the possible re-surfacing of internal and regional violent conflicts.

Amb. Ajisomo specifically points the issue involving Transhumance and Inter-Communal Conflicts in West Africa as one serious challenge that the Sub-Region has been dealing with for some time now."Given its pervasive nature, one is tempted to ask what are the causes and drivers of the problem of Transhumance and Inter-Communal Conflicts", he asserts.

According to him, experts have proffered the problems of growing demographic and population pressures; competition between herders and farmers over access to water and grazing areas, as well as expansion of agricultural activities; problem of climate change and acute variability and unpredictability of rainfall; increase proliferation of firearms have also intensified the misunderstanding between farmers and herders and resulted to the killing of one another; competition for scarce natural resources; local and national politics especially failure on the part of local authorities and Governments to find lasting solution for farmers and herders to co-exist, including weak enforcement of the rule of law; and more importantly, weak and sometimes non-implementation of ECOWAS Protocols and Regulations on Transhumance of 1998 and 2003 that delineate the roles and responsibilities of ECOWAS Member-States and the Commission in the implementation of the Protocol.

Liberia's Speaker Bholaf Chambers adds that efforts by the regional body to bring about socio-economic synergy between and amongst the people of ECOWAS must take cognizance of the values of its people.

Speaker Chambers however cautions the body to consider the sociology of the sub-region, ranging from traditions, respective economies to prescriptions that suite their wellbeing.VP Taylor is also expected to chair the ECOWAS Parliamentary Women Forum here, while President George Manneh Weah will officially address the ECOWAS Parliament's second extraordinary session on Monday as guest of honor. The regional deliberations continue today at the US$50 Million Chinese- constructed Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, outskirts of Monrovia. By Bridgett Milton-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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