President Sirleaf Outlines Her Plans for ECOWAS

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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia and newly elected chair of the Economic Community of West African States and chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government marshals out plan to tackle security, terrorism, economic and political problems facing member states

ELLEN Johnson Sirlea, chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, has outlined her plans for ECOWAS to Marcel de Souza, president of the ECOWAS Commission, during a recent official visit to the Republic of Liberia.

This visit followed the election of Sirleaf, president of the Republic of Liberia as the chair of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government at the recent Summit held in Dakar, Senegal, on June 4.

Sirleaf’s election marks the first time, since the establishment of ECOWAS in 1975, that a Liberian Leader and in particular, a female president was unanimously elected as the chair of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.

By extension and as a coincidence, it is also the first time a Liberian female minister of Foreign Affairs would Chair the ECOWAS Council of Ministers.

President de Souza was warmly received at Roberts International Airport on June 16, by ECOWAS and AU Ambassadors accredited to Liberia. He subsequently had a tete-a-tete meeting with the Chair of Authority under a warm and cordial atmosphere, reflecting overwhelming desire for strengthening ECOWAS activities in the sub-region.

During the visit, Sirleaf discussed extensively with ECOWAS president and highlighted her Plan Programme of Action in areas such as peace and security, terrorism, post Ebola, economy and institutional reforms,

Sirleaf and Souza noted the political instability in Guinea Bissau and Mali and the threat this posed to the security in the sub-region.  They both agreed to work closely with all relevant stakeholders towards providing a lasting solution to the political and security crisis in Guinea Bissau.

Both leaders called on member-states to take ownership of, and implement without delay, all Protocols relating to peace and security, as well as the Early Warning and Rapid Response Mechanism. As a demonstration of her commitment, Sirleaf signed Executive Order No. 076 approving the legal framework and the commencement of the establishment of the Centre.

They highlighted the threats of terrorism and its attendant security challenges in the sub-region. They expressed that the fight against terrorism must not be left in the hands of security personnel alone and called for regular exchange of intelligence and information sharing so as to avoid a repeat of recent terrorist attacks in Cote d’Ivoire and elsewhere in the sub-region. They also committed themselves to re-dedicate their efforts to combating trans-national crime, transhumans herdsmen, human and drugs trafficking, and maritime insecurity in the sub-region.

The two leaders noted and appreciated the on-going recovery efforts in post-Ebola countries including Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Towards this end, they informed that President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo would be organising a meeting with international Partners and Donors on post-Ebola recovery for affected Member-States as the Regional Coordinator on post-Ebola recovery.

They also  announced that ECOWAS, through the West African Health Organisation, WAHO, has constituted a standby medical team (While Helmets) ready to assist in combating communicable diseases.

The leaders noted that most economies in the region were going through strains and stress and called for improved infrastructure and increased trading activities among member-states to facilitate economic integration.  They also called for the ratification and implementation of all ECOWAS instruments such as Common External Tariff, CET, Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA, and ECOWAS Trade Liberation Scheme, ETLS.

Sirleaf also expressed satisfaction to the reforms that the President of ECOWAS Commission has embarked on especially in cutting down on meetings that have no relevant value to integration projects of the sub-region.

Both leaders expressed appreciation to member-states that have paid up the arrears of Community Levy and called on those that are yet to fulfil their obligations to do so promptly with a view to achieving ECOWAS Vision 2020 for the benefit of the people of the sub-region.

— June 22, 2016 @ 2:20 GMT

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