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By Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)
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ABUJA, Nigeria, April 23, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- An experts meeting to consider a mechanism for enhancing the powers of the ECOWAS parliament in compliance with the 2003 directive of regional leaders opens in Accra on Monday, 22nd April 2013.

Three representatives from each member state as well as experts in parliamentary practice from within and outside the region are attending the meeting which will consider a draft supplementary act produced by a consultant commissioned by the parliament to make proposals for enhancing the powers of the institution.

The act proposes that the 13 year old parliament,which under its present instrument is vested with advisory roles in the regional integration process, should have its powers enhanced in five key areas.

It proposes that Parliament shares co-decision powers with the council of ministers in the areas of legislation and budgets while exercising oversight functions over specific organs of the Community, initiation of laws for the community and confirmation of the appointment of statutory appointees.

The five day meeting will review the Act and propose a mechanism for complying with the directive of regional leaders including institutional arrangements to be made for the realignment of responsibilities under the new dispensation. It will also discuss the implications of the implementation of the directive on existing structures and propose how this can be realistically implemented.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Kadre Desire Ou├ędraogo has already constituted an internal committee at the Commission led by Vice President Toga McIntosh to drive the process.

The 115 member community parliament was established under Article 13 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty of 1993 initially as an advisory institution but its protocol came into effect in 2000.