The Togolese President, Faure Gnassingbé, has been elected by his West African peers to preside over the destiny of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, for a one year term, in replacement of the Liberian President, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who steered the affairs of the organisation for twelve months.
A released from ECOWAS Information Bureau informed the general public that such was one of the decisions of the 51st ordinary session of the Authority held on Sunday 4th June 2017, in Monrovia, Liberia, in the presence of 12 out of the 15 Heads of State and Government of the Community.
Absent at the Summit were Patrice Talon of Benin, Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria.
Aside from electing Faure Gnassingbé, the West African leaders decided to hold their 52th ordinary session in Lome, Togo, in December 2017. The King of Morocco and the Presidents of Tunisia and Mauritania will be invited to the said session.
They requested Mauritania, a former Member State, to reapply for full membership, and granted observer status to Tunisia. In that regard, they directed the Commission to take the necessary steps to ensure that all rules and procedures relating to the grant of observer status were in place.
With respect to Morocco, the Heads of State and Government gave their agreement in principle for membership to the Community, in view of the strong and multidimensional ties it has with West Africa. They directed the Commission to further reflect on the implications of the request from the Kingdom of Morocco in the light of the provisions of the Revised ECOWAS Treaty and to represent the matter at the next ordinary session of the Authority.
The other decisions of the Authority related to the institutional reform of the Community. It was decided to reduce the size of the Commission from 15 to 9 Commissioners, and to 18 statutory positions in all ECOWAS Institutions.
The Authority requested the ad hoc Ministerial Committee set up to propose modalities for the allocation of positions to ensure that each Member State had at least a statutory position, and instructed the Commission President to extend the reform to other Community Institutions.
It further commended the President of the Commission for the steps taken to streamline institutional processes and procedures in order to guarantee optimal performance of the Commission and all other Institutions and encouraged him to continue in that direction.
On security, the Summit decided to extend for 3 months the mandate of the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau (ECOMIB) and for 12 months that of the ECOWAS Mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG).
The Authority commended the Government of Mali for the significant steps taken to ensure the implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, and expressed concern over the recurrence of terrorist attacks in the north and centre of the country.
Regarding the forthcoming elections in Liberia, the Authority commended the political parties for their decision towards ensuring violence free presidential election in the country and urged them to be fully committed to their Resolution of September 21 - 23, 2016, as well as the Political Declaration signed in the margins of this Summit.
Still on Liberia, the Heads of State and Government sincerely applauded H.E. Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, outgoing Chair of the Authority, for her exemplary leadership and unrelenting commitment to regional integration, peace and security of West Africa.
With regard to the economy and implementation of regional integration programmes, the West African leaders welcomed the favourable economic growth prospects in Member States. They also reaffirmed their strong commitment to the implementation of the provisions of the protocol on free movement of persons, right of residence and establishment.
Concerning the Customs Union, they welcomed the progress made in the implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) by Member States, and the development process of the Community Customs Code.
They also welcomed the results achieved in the implementation of the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP), and progress made in road and maritime infrastructure development.
The opening ceremony of the Summit was followed by the signing of the Supplementary Act on Dakar-Abidjan Corridor, and laying of the first stone for the regional electricity project. The project covers Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The ceremony was graced by several personalities, including the United Nations General-Secretary's Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, and Chairperson of the African Union Commission.