29 August 2017

West Africa: President Sirleaf Receives Vice President of Ecowas Commission - Edward Singhatey

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has received in audience the Vice President of ECOWAS Commission, Edward Singhatey and members of his delegation at her Foreign Ministry Office on Capitol Hill in Monrovia. She commended him for the visit and progress that has been made by ECOWAS.

According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader spoke on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 when Vice President Edward D. Singhatey and members of his delegation paid a courtesy call on her where she was among other things briefed on the purpose of his visit and other activities of the Commission. She however, paid tribute to ECOWAS Ambassador accredited near Monrovia, Babatunde Ajisomo who accompanied him.

President Sirleaf applauded Vice President Edward Singhatey for the visit and commended him for the progress ECOWAS has made and is making in the region. She said she looks forward to a strong support to Liberia during these elections and termed his visit as fundamental at this time. She assured Vice President Singhatey that the overall environment of the elections are now better off them before, something she said tells that Liberians are ready and prepared to continue on the path of peaceful elections and democracy.

Speaking further, she informed Vice President Singhatey of government's support to the National Elections Commission (NEC) for the conduct of peaceful elections. She made particular reference to the 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections slated for October 10; stressing, although ECOWAS has being supportive of the process, more needs to be done.

Touching on the stationing of ECOWAS Radio, she welcomed the initiative and said it is a great tribute for Liberia. According to her, the fact that ECOWAS Radio will be based in Liberia signifies a great tribute to ECOWAS, adding: "We think this is a great tribute to ECOWAS, especially that it will be based in Liberia." She further described it as a breakthrough for all Liberians emphasizing - "All we need now is the roadmap leading to the process."

On the question of storage facility for ECOWAS' equipment at Star Base (Freeport of Monrovia), she said she was yet to receive a report from the committee, although has been briefed and that the government remains very positive to ECOWAS' initiatives in Liberia. President Sirleaf furthered that as soon as all of the technical details are worked out, the go ahead will be given to ECOWAS.

She assured him that she had noted his proposals expressed and would initiate the necessary consultations in order to inform a collective decision on proposals made. "I don't want to leave too many things hanging for the next government; we will get back to you as soon as all of the procedures and processes are done with," President Sirleaf emphasized.

The Liberian leader used the occasion to inform ECOWAS Commission through its Vice President - Singhatey that Liberia deserves better when a comes to representation at the top level of the sub-regional Body. "Let me raise this issue, though I have raised it before; Liberia is grossly under-recognized and represented at the top level in ECOWAS given Liberia's role in the founding of ECOWAS, I think we deserve preferential treatment," she noted.

While appreciating ECOWAS for the Chairmanship Liberia just passed on as well as other positions including Vice chair at the ECOWAS Court and junior positions, President Sirleaf urged the Vice President of ECOWAS Commission to always inform Liberia about various vacancies so that qualified Liberians can apply and go through a competitive process that will qualify them for top level positions instead of junior level positions. She then urged Vice President Singhatey to convey her sentiments to the President of ECOWAS Commission.

Speaking earlier, the Vice President of ECOWAS Commission, Edward D. Singhatey thanked President Sirleaf for receiving him and his delegation and for the warm reception accorded them by the Government of Liberia since their arrival. He noted among other things that his purpose for his visit to Liberia is to engage with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) on the transfer of UNMIL Radio when the Mission withdraws from Liberia and for the establishment of ECOWAS equipment storage facility in Liberia among others.

Vice President Singhatey further indicated that the transfer of the radio station will be turned into a specialized agency of ECOWAS something he said he is extremely excited about. He informed President Sirleaf about the launch of a platform of ECOWAS and MRU to ensure Liberia holds peaceful elections and at the same time provide a platform for a dialogue - stressing full cooperation. "Peaceful elections are a prerequisite to good governance," he said.

Vice President Singhatey thanked President Sirleaf for hosting the 51st ECOWAS Summit, her personal intervention, interest and leadership skills exhibited as chairperson of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, which according to him has allowed them to do their work at the Commission with commitment and diligence.

Vice President Singhatey told President Sirleaf of fruitful meetings held with top government Ministers aimed at ensuring peaceful elections and ECOWAS initiatives and engagement with the government of Liberia on his visit. He assured President Sirleaf that before January 2018, all the processes leading to the roadmap would have being completed for the transfer of the Radio.

He also informed President Sirleaf that the ECOWAS Commission receives annual equipment from the People's Republic of China but storage facility is a serious challenge, something he said is contributing to the deterioration of some of the equipment. Vice President Singhatey stressed that Liberia's assistance remains extremely critical. He said the Commission will be counting on President Sirleaf and her government continued support to ECOWAS.

The Meeting was graced by senior government officials including Liberia's Foreign Minister, Information Minister, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, among others.

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