Monrovia - Liberia — The President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, said in Monrovia on Monday 17th December 2012 that in addition to peace and security, the new leadership at the Commission also places high priority on regional economic development, food security, as well as human capital and infrastructural development.
At a meeting with Ambassadors of ECOWAS Member States in Liberia, he named other priorities to include institutional capacity building and reforms, to make the Community institutions function more efficiently and effectively, rigorous implementation of the free movement protocol, easing of a
"Peace and security is crucial, but at the same time we cannot talk about economic development where there is no free movement of people, goods and services," the President affirmed, and stressed the need to develop and harness the region's vast human resources through effective training and establishment of Centres of Excellence to drive economic and development. He equally highlighted efforts being made to establish a Common External Tariff by 2013 and the need to conclude a comprehensive and mutually beneficial Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), with the European Union.
The President also briefed the envoys on the progress in regional efforts to restore peace in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, successful elections in Sierra Leone and Ghana, and support to countries planning elections in the region. The Dean of the ECOWAS Diplomatic Corps in Liberia, Guinea's Ambassador Abdoulaye Dole, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, thanked the ECOWAS chief for updating them on developments in the region and pledged their individual and collective support to the Commission towards the realization of its objectives of regional integration.
The Ivorian Ambassador to Liberia, Mr. Kapieletien Soro, expressed his gratitude to the President and the Commission for the humanitarian assistance extended to Ivorian refugees in Liberia. Other Ambassador at the meeting, who also reiterated their countries' support to ECOWAS were Ambassadors Marie Jilo Barnett of Sierra Leone and Chigozie Obi- Nnadozie of Nigeria. Earlier, President Ouédraogo, and his delegation had attended the official lighting of the National Christmas Tree by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at the Executive Mansion Grounds, on Capitol Hill, Monrovia.
The colourful ceremony, attended by members of the diplomatic corps, government ministers as well as the leadership of the country's judiciary and the legislature, featured prayers and rendition of yuletide songs by different choirs. These were followed by a procession to the Foreign Ministry for refreshment. It was President Ouédraogo's, first official visit to Liberia since assuming office in March this year.
On his delegation, were the ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Gender, Dr. Adrienne Diop, Director of Humanitarian Affairs, Dr. Daniel Eklu, Mrs. Benetta Tarr of the External Relations Department and Mr. Paul Ejime of the Communication Department.