The ECOWAS Parliament, also known as the Community Parliament, is one of the Institutions of ECOWAS. It is the Assembly of Peoples of the Community serving as a forum for dialogue, consultation and consensus for Representatives of the people of West Africa with the aim of promoting integration. It was established under Articles 6 and 13 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty of 1993. The initial Protocol establishing the Parliament was signed in Abuja on August 6, 1994. It provided for the Structure, Composition, Competence and other matters relating to the Parliament. The Parliament is composed of one hundred and fifteen (115) seats. Each Member State shall have a guaranteed minimum of five (5) seats. The remaining forty (40) seats shall be shared on the basis of population.
Objectives and Vision
The need for a Community mechanism to forge greater ties with the citizens of the West African Community served as impetus towards the creation of the Community Parliament:
- to strengthen representative democracy in the Community ;
- to contribute to the promotion of peace, security, and stability on the West African Region;
- inform and sensitize the population on issues of integration;
- promote and defend principles of human rights, democracy, the rule of law, transparency, accountability and good governance;
- promote the practices of accountability;
- contribute to the efficient and effective implementation of objectives and policies of the Community among other objectives.
The founding fathers considered that this would sustain inspiration and legitimacy for actions the ECOWAS Community was taking on behalf of Community citizens. It was believed this would be best achieved by allowing the Parliament to play the traditional role of a Parliament within the ECOWAS regional governance architecture. This sentiment is also in consonance with the ECOWAS Vision 2020 of transiting from an ECOWAS of states to an ECOWAS of People.
The First Legislature was inaugurated in Bamako, Mali with a five-year mandate (16 November 2000 to 5 October 2005). The Rt. Honourable Prof. Ali Nouhoum Diallo was elected the first Speaker. Subsequently, the Parliament held its First Ordinary Session in January 2001 at its Seat in Abuja, the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In 2006, a Supplementary Protocol was signed to amend certain sections of the initial Protocol relating to the Parliament, notably, the Life of the Legislature and Terms of Office, both of which changed from five to four years.
Following the restructuring of ECOWAS Institutions by the Authority of Heads of State and Government in 2006, in which the life span of the Legislature was reduced to four years, the Second Legislature was inaugurated on 11 November 2006, under the leadership of His Excellency Mahamane Ousmane from the Republic of Niger. The Legislature lasted until 10th November, 2010.
The Third Legislature was inaugurated on 8 August 2011 with Distinguished Senator Dr. Ike Ekweremadu from Nigeria as the Speaker of Parliament. That Legislature lasted till 7th August, 2015.
The Fourth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament was inaugurated at its first sitting on 4 February 2016. The Right. Honourable Moustapha Cisse Lo from Senegal, was elected Speaker. It was inaugurated by H.E. Macky Sall, President of the Senegal and then Chairman of Authority of Heads of State and Government. The Legislature lasted until 3rd February, 2020.
This fifth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament was inaugurated during its first sitting on 9th March, 2020 by His Excellency, Issoufou Mahamadou, President of the Republic of Niger and Chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.