The newly elected President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has highlighted the need for peace and security to be maintained at the Liberian-Ivorian border, while hailing the present coordination between the two countries.
Speaking to journalists here at a joint press conference with President Sirleaf at the close of his three-day visit, the newly elected President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, said both countries were cooperative in maintaining security at their common border.
However, he said as part of the Commission's mandate, it will continue to monitor and intervene in matters affecting the region.
He said besides peace and security, the new leadership at the ECOWAS Commission also places 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, including institutional capacity building and reforms, to make ECOWAS institutions function more efficiently and effectively.
"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 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 ECOWAS leader also briefed the envoys on progress achieved 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 President 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.
Ivorian Ambassador to Liberia, Mr. Kapieletien Soro, expressed gratitude to the President Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo and the Commission for the humanitarian assistance extended to Ivorian refugees in Liberia.
Other Ambassadors 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 attended the official lighting of a National Christmas Tree by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Tuesday on the grounds of the Executive Mansion on Capitol Hill, Monrovia. It is President Ouédraogo's, first official visit to Liberia since assuming office in March this year.
At a joint news conference with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at her Foreign Ministry office, President Ouédraogo said ECOWAS is proud of the Liberian leader for the level of leadership she has brought in the region.
"We are proud to have a leader like President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who has shown a sense of women leadership in the region," he told journalists. President Johnson-Sirleaf commended the ECOWAS President for the level of security and intervention provided in the region.
President Ouédraogo is being accompanied to Liberia by 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, respectively.