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ECOWAS Parliament holds first virtual parliamentary session

By John Okeke

The Second Extraordinary Session of ECOWAS Parliament is scheduled to hold a five-day virtual Extra-Ordinary session to consider some referrals from Community institutions on germane issues that border on the wellbeing of the people of the sub-region, in line with the provisions of the Supplementary Act relating to the Enhancement of the Powers of the Parliament.

The Virtual Extraordinary Session which commenced on Monday, 20 July 2020, is using the Zoom virtual Platform.

With this virtual session, the regional Parliament has joined the league of Community institutions to deploy the use of technology in conducting its sessions and meetings, following guidelines on the Covid-19 protocols for ECOWAS Institutions, issued by the President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou.

Notable among the referrals is the request by the President of the ECOWAS Commission seeking assistance from the Parliament in implementing the ECOWAS protocol on the community levy.

That Parliament takes decision relating to the contribution of ECOWAS Member States to the African Union Solidarity Fund in the fight against COVID-19.

Other referrals from the ECOWAS Commission are on the fight against COVID-19, the stabilization and recovery of the economies of ECOWAS Member States.

This virtual Extra-Ordinary session heralds an era of a new normal occasioned by the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consequently, Parliament’s administration has concluded all technical and manpower arrangements to ensure a seamless session.

The virtual session is an innovation that is yet to be ventured into by many national and supranational parliaments around the world, an indication of the level of importance the ECOWAS Parliament arrogates to its duties and responsibilities towards the Community’s Citizens, preferring that its work is not stalled regardless of the ravaging pandemic.

Preceding the opening of the Extra-Ordinary session would be the Conference of Committees Bureaux, statutorily composed of the Bureau, Chairman and 1st Rapporteurs of the 14 Standing Committees as well as Chairmen of Parliamentary Groups, with the mandate of considering and adopting the Draft Agenda and Work Program of the session, legitimizing those documents to be considered and adopted by the Plenary.

The meeting is usually convened and chaired by the Speaker of Parliament.

The virtual Extra-Ordinary Session is scheduled to end on Friday, 25 July 2020.

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