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W/African leaders conclude 54th summit in Abuja

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West African leaders have concluded the 54th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with a 59-Count Final Communique.

Several presidents from the ECOWAS region and other high-level officials representing some respective presidents restated their strong commitment to peace and security at the end-of-year Summit that held in Abuja, Nigeria on December 22, 2018, a release from the Liberian Embassy in Abuja says.

According to the release, Liberia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gbezohngar Milton Findley represented the President President George Manneh Weah.

Minister Findley was accompanied by the Liberian Ambassador to Nigeria, Professor Al-Hassan Conteh, who is also Liberia’s Permanent Representative to ECOWAS.

The opening ceremony of the Summit witnessed opening remarks from the Nigerian Head of State and Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou and the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas.

Declaring the summit open, President Buhari maintained that the gathering is a clear testimony of the continued collective resolve and commitment of the leaders to the effective integration of the West African region, the release adds.

Applauding the significant progress made by ECOWAS in the recent past, particularly in the areas of political governance, peace and security as well as economic and social fields, President Buhari said the achievements, “have positioned ECOWAS as an example of a regional economic community on our continent” He paid special tribute to Presidents Nana Akuffo-Addo and Alpha Conde of Ghana and Guinea respectively who as ECOWAS facilitators in the resolution of the Togolese political crisis, have been tireless in the search for its peaceful settlement.

Welcoming the successful elections in Sierra Leone and Mali in 2018, President Buhari noted the electoral support given to some countries, and said the Authority has also acted pro-actively to neutralise potential conflicts through preventive diplomacy before they exploded.

He then recommitted his personal support towards the electoral process expected to take place in Nigeria in February, 2019 where he himself will be the incumbent presidential candidate.The Chair of the Authority of ECOWAS however noted that despite the positive strides, ECOWAS is still confronted by several challenges in the economic, governance, peace, security and humanitarian fields.

For his part, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou in his opening remarks told regional leaders and guests that his team has been working to strengthen and accelerate the implementation of Community ECOWAS’ programmes and projects in the different fields.

Attributing the continuous growth of ECOWAS to positive leadership over the years, President Brou disclosed that 2018 has witnessed economic growth, inflation is in decline while the situation of public finances remains stable.

Like the Chair, the President of the ECOWAS Commission also acknowledged that the C:ommunity still faces significant challenges: “Ït is for us to continue to consolidate our customs union and our common market, to deal with extremism and terrorism and to fight effectively against the effects of climate change.”

Also addressing the 54th Ordinary Session, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas noted that the frequent citing of West Africa as a shining example of peace consolidation and democracy on the continent stems from the strong and positive role of ECOWAS as consistent promoter of integration.

Meanwhile, the West African leaders at the end of the summit adopted a 59-Count Final Communique.

This followed a closed-door session where the West African leaders considered several reports, including those on the political situation in Guinea Bissau, Togo and the region; the Presidential Task Force on the Trade Liberalisation Scheme of the regional organisation; the Community single currency; and infrastructure.

They also considered the final report of the 41st Ordinary Meeting of the Mediation and Security Council (MSC), and that of the 81st Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, as well as the 2018 Annual Report of the ECOWAS Commission President.

Prior to the adoption of the Final Communique, the regional leaders on the sidelines of the Summit held a roundtable discussion on electricity interconnection for sustainable development in Africa, the release concludes.-Dispatch

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