Parliament has thrown the searchlight on the political situation in neighbouring Burkina Faso with members being asked to hold the executive and other arms of government in check to forestall the perpetuation and abuse of power.
Members were of the view that as elected representatives of the people they had to listen to the people and not to do their own bidding or that of the executive to maintain the respect of the people and confidence in the constitution.
Some of the legislators said the people were losing their respect for the legislature and it was necessary immediate steps were taken to restore the dented image of parliament and prevent it from becoming a rubber stamp institution.
The concerns were raised in contributions to statements by Mr Emmanuel Bandua, Chairman of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Mr Isaac Osei, Ranking Member, on the political situation in Burkina Faso.
In the statement, Mr Bandua indicated that the deposed President Blaise Compaore came into the limelight in 1987 after the mysterious killing of his predecessor, Captain Thomas Sankara, by a group of soldiers.
“For 27 long years, President Compaore ruled Burkina Faso and during this period, he won four disputed elections, the last one being in November 2010,” Mr Bandua said.
The protests that culminated in the resignation of President Compaore were triggered by his plan to amend the constitution so that he could run again in next year’s elections.
During the protests, demonstrators stormed parliament, setting fire to the building, ostensibly to prevent the parliamentarians from changing the constitution to allow President Compaore to run for another term.
The confusion that emanated from that attempt, made the former President resign, and together with the former Speaker and his two deputies fled the country, with the military taking over.
The ECOWAS intervened and discussed with the military leaders and key groups how to restore normalcy to the country.
However, under Burkina Faso constitution, the President of the Senate is mandated to assume the administration of the country when the President resigns while elections shall take place between 60 and 90 days later.
After the ECOWAS meeting, President Dramani Mahama noted that it was important that leadership vacuum was not created in Burkina Faso, but observed that even though the constitution stipulated that elections shall take place between 60 and 90 days the period was too short to organise the process.
He, therefore, suggested that the transitional government operated pending the general election next year.
Mr Bandua asked: “Mr Speaker, the question that comes to mind is what lessons can we learn as a nation and particularly as Members of Parliament from the Burkina Faso crisis?
“The first lesson in my opinion, Mr Speaker, is that freedom and democracy are usually not given on a silver platter. They are taken through the exercise of vigilance and force when necessary,” Mr Bandua said.
Mr Bandua said if the Burkina Faso Parliament had sent a signal to President Compaore that any attempt to amend the constitution with the view to prolonging his stay in office would not be countenanced, Burkina Faso would have been spared the crisis.
Source: Graphic Online