The heads of state and governments of the sub-regional grouping ECOWAS have directed that body’s commission to ensure that Liberia is in conformity with the relevant provisions of the its Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance as the country heads toward presidential and Legislative elections in 2017.
A dispatch from Abuja, Nigeria said, the sub-regional Heads of State and Government took the decision during the 50th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel – Abuja on Saturday, December 17, 2016.
In the communique read by Liberia’s Foreign Minister and Chair of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, Madam Marjon V. Kamara, at the end of the Meeting, the Authority also decided that in order to promote human rights and inclusive governance mainly with regards to women and youths, set aside January 16th of every year as the ECOWAS Human Rights day.
The day is symbolic in the region as it marks the ascension to power of Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as President of Liberia and the first African Woman Head of State.
On peace, security and democracy, ECOWAS leaders reaffirmed the importance of peace, security and stability in the sub-region for the economic development of the region.
They expressed deep indignation at the terrorist attacks of Friday, December 16, 2016 against a detachment of the Groupement des Forces Anti-terroristes de l’Armee (GFAT), which resulted in the death of 12 people whilst many others sustained injuries. The leaders strongly condemned this latest attack and expressed its sympathy and full solidarity with the people, Army and Government of Burkina Faso. They honored the memory of the victims of the attacks, presented its condolences to the bereaved families and wished the wounded persons speedy recovery.
The Authority reaffirmed their determination to relentlessly pursue the fight against terrorism and lauded the efforts by Member States to prevent and address this scourge. They commended the activities of the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram, as well as the clear results obtained by the Force in spite of the difficulties encountered.
The Authority directed the President of the Commission to take the necessary steps to organize, as soon as possible, an international conference on the security situation in Mali, in conjunction with the AU and United Nations, with a view to accessing the most appropriate means of intervention likely to enhance the efficiency of the actions underway in order to preserve Mali’s territorial integrity.
On West African economic performance, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government welcomed the progress made in some Member States, nearing double-digit growth rates, but expressed concern about the region’s poor performance due mainly to the combined negative effects of the fall in oil prices since 2014 on the fiscal balance of oil-exporting countries, particularly Nigeria, deteriorating prices of other commodities, especially mineral ores as well as the fragile political situation in some countries.
In this respect, they urged Member States to initiate the necessary structural reforms and take appropriate economic and financial stimulus measures in order to be less vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations and improve their economies’ resilience to exogenous shocks.
On regional integration and development matters, the ECOWAS leaders expressed concern about the continuing obstacles to free movement of persons and goods in the Community and have invited Member States to take all the necessary measures to strictly implement all the provisions of the Protocol on free movement of persons and goods, right to residence and establishment.
They welcome the setting up of the Presidential Task Force on free movement, and urged the Task Force to recommend as soon as possible innovative and effective measures to curb the scourge. They also directed the Commission to intensify awareness creation for the Community citizenry and regularly organize joint sensitization meeting between border security service and the local populations.
On infrastructure development, the ECOWAS leaders emphasized the need to develop road, railway, air and maritime infrastructure necessary for boosting intra-Community trade, to enhance development prospects and to assist in the fight against poverty.
On institutional matters, the ECOWAS Authority took note of ongoing institutional reforms in the Commission and other ECOWAS Institutions but stressed the need for the reforms to take account of the economic and financial situation within the region thus paving the way for the establishment of cost effective, efficient and sustainable structures for the Community.-press release