The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament is set to convene in Freetown, Sierra Leone for an appraisal session of its Fifth Legislature. As per a Media Advisory dated January 28, 2024, signed by Uchena Duru-Nwaotule, Head of the Communication Division, the 2024 First Extraordinary Session of the Parliament is scheduled for February 5-8, 2024, in the Sierra Leonean capital.
The Advisory notes that this session, the last for the Fifth Legislature, will be an appraisal meeting of its mandate.
Prior to the Extraordinary Session, a Parliamentary Seminar themed "Illegal Mining and its consequences in the ECOWAS region" will be held from January 31 to February 2, 2024, in Freetown. Additionally, the ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians Association (ECOFEPA) Symposium is slated for February 9-10, 2024, also in Freetown.
The House of Representatives of the peoples of the Community is designated the "ECOWAS Parliament '' under Article 2 of the Supplementary Act and established under Article 6 and 13 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty of 1993. The Fifth Legislature was installed by President Mahamadou Issoufou of the Republic of Niger on March 13, 2020, in Niamey, and is presided over by Rt. Hon. Speaker Sidi Mohamed Tunis, a ranking member of the Sierra Leone delegation to the Parliament.
Illegal mining, particularly Galamsey activities, is a significant issue in Ghana, which exposes Ghanaians to drinking and inhaling gaseous mercury, leading to mercury absorption into the bloodstream. Galamsey refers to illegal small-scale gold mining in Ghana and is a primary cause of river pollution.
Sierra Leone, on the other hand, enjoys the presidency of ECOFEPA, with one of the longest-serving female MPs, Hon. Veronica Kadie Sesay, serving in this capacity. The country boasts its greatest number of female MPs, with 42 out of 146 in the current Sixth Legislature following the enactment of the Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment Bill.
It is expected that the Parliament's activities in Sierra Leone will serve as a moment of introspection on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing the sub-regional body's interventions on its competencies, emerging issues, and women's empowerment.