25 February 2013

West Africa: ECOWAS Mandates Free Movement

ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) has mandated member states to engage in sensitization on the ECOWAS Free Movement Protocol, which forms the basis for the integration of 300 million citizens within member states

Speaking in Ganta, Nimba County at a sensitization campaign on the Free Movement Protocol, the head of the ECOWAS National Unit-Liberia, Mr. Otis D. Wesseh said free movement is essential and crucial to the realization of the ECOWAS Vision 2020: an ECOWAS of the people.

The ECOWAS Vision is intended to provide a reference point for an integrated development approach for the West Africa region.

It also advocates a movement from an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of the People through the implementation of several objectives aimed at establishing a single economic region (a single currency, a single central bank, a Legislative Community Parliament) where the populations could go about their businesses and live in dignity, in peace, in a state of law, and good governance.

Mr. Wesseh told participants that the exercise is the first of a series of sensitization campaigns scheduled to cover the entire country this year.

He explained that Ganta was chosen as first stop based on the strategic location of the city situated at a crossroads connecting Liberia to the Republics of Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire. This location demands that inhabitants of Ganta be fully sensitized to enable them adequately interact with other West African nationals who frequently transit or reside in their city and county.

He admonished participants to develop a new approach to the way they have been interacting with their West African brothers and sisters based on the knowledge they have gained from the campaign.

The campaign brought together stakeholders on the Free Movement Protocol, the Bureau of Immigration & Naturalization, the Bureau of Customs and Excise, the Ganta business community, civil society, educational institutions, media institutions, insurance and transport institutions and UNPOL.

The head of the National Unit presented a paper on the general overview of the Free Movement Protocol (the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital across West Africa); BIN made a presentation on the free movement of persons, while the Bureau of Customs spoke on the free movement of goods.

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