Monrovia - Benin — The President of the ECOWAS Commission Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo was received at the Executive Mansion, Monrovia on Tuesday 18th December 2012 by Liberia's President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, for talks on wide ranging issues including security at the Liberia-Cote d'Ivoire border, as well as political and economic developments in the region. Addressing journalists after a working lunch, both leaders accompanied by their powerful teams, including government ministers and senior ECOWAS Commission officials, were unanimous that concerted measures were required to consolidate the peaceful atmosphere along the Liberia-Cote d'Ivoire borders after the unfortunate incident that resulted in the deaths of some Niger UN peace keepers on the frontier last June.
The ECOWAS chief, who is on a humanitarian mission to Liberia, his first official visit to the country since he assumed office in March, said the talks also covered areas of ECOWAS support, engagement and encouragement to Liberia in deepening democratic governance, security sector reforms as well as economic and infrastructure development. Other priority areas are the energy sector with progress in the West African Power Pool (WAPP) project that will ensure interconnectivity among ECOWAS countries, and the Liberia leg of the Trans-West African Highway. President Ouédraogo said there was the urgent need for effective implementation of the region's flagship Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Goods and the Rights of Residence and Establishment. He noted that regional integration and economic development would be a pipe dream without free movement of persons, goods and services across the borders of Member States. The ECOWAS chief commended President Jonson-Sirleaf for providing exemplary leadership in the region and for her contribution to conflict resolution, particularly on Mali and Guinea-Bissau. He noted that Liberia was on the path to economic prosperity after a devastating civil war and pledged the Commission's continued support to the country.
President Ouédraogo, who had earlier in the day, presented 300 metric tons of rice to the Liberian government for distribution to Ivorian refugees in the country, thanked the Liberian government and people for their generosity towards the Ivorians. He later visited the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Coordinator of UN operations in Liberia, Mrs. Karin Landgren for talks on ECOWAS-UN partnership and cooperation. The meeting also featured political, peace and security issues in the region and the need to strengthen and consolidate collaboration between ECOWAS and the UN system. President Ouédraogo expressed the Commission's gratitude to the UN through its Office in West Africa, adding that ECOWAS and the international community were intensifying efforts to end the crises in Mali and Guinea-Bissau and ensure that West Africa becomes a zone of peace. To round off the mission, Liberia's Finance Minister Honourable Amara Konneh hosted the ECOWAS chief to a reception, which was attended by cabinet ministers and members of the diplomatic corps, among others.