Friday, February 19, 2010

ECOWAS Summit Addresses Issues in Guinea, Niger, Among Regional Concerns

Liberia Government (Monrovia)

West Africa: Ecowas Summit Addresses Issues of Guinea, Niger, among Regional Concerns

17 February 2010

The 37th Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government opened in the Nigeria capital, Abuja, on Tuesday, February 16th.

The opening session was addressed by the Acting President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who is also serving as Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government; the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas; and the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa, Ambassador Said Djinnit, who delivered a special message on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The leaders expressed concern over the increasing wave of trafficking and organized crime in the sub-region. Beyond the political crisis, they observed, the region is confronted with transnational organized crime such as trafficking of humans, small arms and light weapons, terrorism and drugs. The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Chambas, made specific reference to drug trafficking, which he said is "steadily permeating our societies, threatening the very moral fabric of our community and undermining efforts at enthroning democracy and good governance."

ECOWAS, Dr. Chambas said, is confronting the challenges squarely with the support of its development partners, and expressed confidence that the body would overcome the challenges.

"For this to happen quickly, we need to sustain the solidarity of the region in the face of threats to the regional peace and security by continuing to remain faithful to the high standards you have set around the constitutional convergence principles of good governance and zero tolerance for power obtained or maintained by unconstitutional means," the ECOWAS Commission President maintained.

The political situation in Guinea and the constitutional crisis in Niger were also highlighted, with an assurance by the United Nations to continue to work closely with the Mediator, President Blaise Compaore, ECOWAS, and the African Union, as well as all the other international stakeholders to ensure that "the current opportunity be fully seized by the Guineans to restore democratic rule and build their nation."

Dr. Chambas commended the efforts of ECOWAS mediators, including Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, for their mediatory role in the situation in Guinea. "To all of your esteemed Heads of State and Government of the region, no sacrifice, no price, and no personal effort have been too demanding in our pursuit of peace and security, democracy and economic development of our region," the outgoing ECOWAS Commission President noted in his remarks.

The meeting went into closed session Tuesday afternoon to review a number of reports, including the Annual Report of the ECOWAS Commission President; the Report of the 63rd Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers; and the Report on Regional Transport and Energy Infrastructure. Reports of the Mediation and Security Council and the ECOWAS Mediation in Guinea and Niger are also expected to be presented during the closed-door session which also features the appointment of the Chairman of the Authority.

The regional leaders will also sign supplementary acts and decisions to improve the areas of telecommunications and information, communication and technology (ICT), as well as facilitate the creation of a regional copyright observatory.
A final communiqué is expected to be issued later following deliberations by the Heads of State and Government.

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