THE ECOWAS Commission is strengthening the capacity of Guinea Bissau law makers on the use of negotiation, dialogue and mediation as effective tools for the management of parliamentary disputes.
Declaring open an on-going workshop to this effect in Accra, Ghana, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Gen. Francis Behanzin, recalled the political and institutional crises which had engulfed the country since 2015 and the sustained interventions by ECOWAS and its partners in seeking lasting solutions.
The Commissioner, represented by the Director of Political Affairs, Dr Remi Ajibewa, identified notable progress made so far to include the successful conduct of the 10th March 2019 Legislative elections in Guinea Bissau, the formation of a new government after weeks of stalemate, and the promulgation of a law to pave the way for the holding of Presidential elections scheduled for 24th November 2019.
He noted that the ECOWAS Commission recognized the central role of the country’s Peoples National Assembly (Parliament) in political conflict management and the need to enhance the capacity of the MPs in negotiation, dialogue and mediation.
In a goodwill message to the four-day workshop which opened on the 23rd of July, Dr Abdel-Fatau Musah, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Officer-In-Charge of the UN Integrated Peace building Office in Guinea Bissau, (UNIOGBIS), welcomed the ECOWAS initiative and its timeliness.
He lauded the strong collaboration between ECOWAS, which also has mission in Guinea Bissau, ECOMIB, and UNIOGBIS, in addressing the multi-faceted political and peace building challenges in the country.
While commending Bissau Guinea stakeholders for their contributions, Dr Musah encouraged the MPs to work towards removing all avoidable impediments to allow for the smooth functioning of the legislature.
The objectives of the workshop, funded under the European Union Support for ECOWAS Regional Peace, Security and Stability Mandate (ECOWAS-EU PSS) Project, include to promote cohesion, trust and reduce tensions between and amongst the main political actors in the National People’s Assembly; enhance capacities of the leadership of the National People’s Assembly in negotiation, dialogue and mediation skills; and promote the formation of an inclusive structure at the level of parliament to manage and mediate conflicts/disputes.
Others are to promote confidence and consensus-building among parliamentarians in conducting parliamentary business; create opportunity for ECOWAS to proactively engage with the leadership of the Parliament and political actors in promoting national peace and stability; familiarize participants with broad ECOWAS integration agenda, and in particular, its peace and security architecture, instruments, protocols and normative frameworks.
The participants include members of ruling and opposition parties – the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), the Movement for Democratic Alternative G-15 (MADEM G.15), the Party for Social Renewal (PRS), Assembly of the People United (APU-PDGB), the New Democratic Party (PND) and Union for Change (UM). Also in attendance are representatives of the Female Mediation Network of Guinea Bissau and inter-faith organizations.
It is expected that the workshop would also inspire the participants to forge collaborative partnerships and promote trust-building based on national interests, for the purpose of maintaining peace, stability and efficient functioning of the business of the Parliament and other institutions of state.
The ECOWAS Directorate of political affairs, the workshop organizers, explained that the “choice of a location outside of Guinea Bissau is to minimize distractions of participants and create an enabling atmosphere for them to reflect on political developments in Guinea Bissau and the role expected of them in the new political dispensation.”