West Africa: Weah Urges 'West Africa' to Unite to Solve Problems Together

President George M. Weah, flanked by Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor and ECOWAS Parliament Speaker Mustapha Cisse Lo with members of the Parliament

-- ECOWAS Parliament Speaker Warns South Africa, Nigeria

President George M. Weah has earnestly urged the 115-member ECOWAS Parliament to vote on action oriented results to tackle and solve problems of West Africa.

The President, on Monday, September 16, 2019 during the opening of the 6-day second Extraordinary Session at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town at the outskirts of Monrovia, held from September 16 to 21, 2019, said amid the challenges the region faces, he is confident that the discussions to be held during this session will lead to important conclusions on the subjects being discussed.

Reports said ECOWAS Parliament amongst several issues will discuss terrorism, xenophobia violence, free movement, the single ECO currency and Information Communication Technology (ICT).

The President pointed that no matter how much countries can do by themselves on the national level, it is never enough, therefore in the spirit of true cooperation, ECOWAS Member States must join in an action-oriented effort to jointly tackle and resolve problems affecting West Africa.

"Remember, no matter how much we can do by ourselves on the national level, it is never enough. In the spirit of true cooperation, we in this region must join in an action-oriented effort to tackle and solve our problems together," the President said.

The President, a former head of Liberian delegation at the ECOWAS Parliament when he was a Senator of Montserrado County, extended special thanks to Members of the Liberian delegation for keeping the flag of Liberia high at the regional Body.

He also thanked out-going ECOWAS Parliament Speaker Moustapha Manneh Cisse Lo, who he described as his brother, and was traditionally named and gowned as 'Manneh' for the visibility, respect and credibility he has given the Parliament.

"As you (Cissse Lo) conclude your tenure in February of next year, please remember that we remain grateful for your service to our sub-region. Be assured that Liberia will always be your home," the President said.

In his formal opening statement, Speaker Cisse Lo, on behalf of the Members of the ECOWAS Parliament and on his own behalf, thanked the President George Weah, his Government and the Liberian people for the warm and fraternal hospitality.

He said this extraordinary session is the fourth of its kind held outside Headquarters (Abuja, Nigeria), after Lomé, in 2017, Dakar in February 2018 and Abidjan in September 2018, and first ever in Liberia.

He indicated that special attention must be given to terrorism and violence of any sort in the region "because they constitute real threats and serious obstacles to the African integration that is so dear to the region and for which we are committed.

"Indeed, in South Africa we have been witnessing, for the past few weeks, a resurgence of xenophobic acts of extreme violence. These sad images of Africa, these painful events and the tensions they engender challenge us as elected representatives of our people." He said.

"We are extremely concerned and strongly sad."

He added: "On behalf of the ECOWAS Parliament, I would like to express our compassion for the victims and their families and firmly condemn these barbaric, untimely acts with disastrous humanitarian, socio-economic and diplomatic consequences. The root causes of this recurrent situation should be studied with a view to reaching a permanent solution."

Speaker Cisse Lo said ECOWAS Parliament calls on the South African authorities to assume their responsibility by guaranteeing all their foreign nationals the right to life, physical integrity and freedom of movement.

He further calls on all African States and the African Union to take diligent initiatives to restore peace and security and restore calm in South Africa and all other States.

"In the same vein, the closure of Nigerian borders with Benin for more than a month and Niger, most recently, is a hindrance to the achievement of the Community's main objective of "creating a prosperous West African region without borders, where there is peace and harmony... "

The ECOWAS Parliament Speaker said closure of borders is a threat to the implementation of the protocol on the free movement of persons at a time when it is necessary to step up our efforts to effectively remove barriers within the Community. The harmful effects of this measure are observed on both sides."

He noted: "The ECOWAS Parliament calls for compliance with Community provisions and calls for the reopening of borders and a coordinated fight against smuggling in the region."

Speaker Cisse Lo mentioned that the adoption of the draft Budget of the Parliament, fiscal year 2020 will include the revision of Rule 13 of the Rules of Procedure of the Fourth Legislature of our Parliament, devoted to the Inaugural Session and, in this respect, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure, they have set up an Ad Hoc Committee to prepare a preliminary draft of Parliament's Budget, FY2020.

"With regard to the Budget Circular, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Mr. Jean Claude Kassi Brou, this Committee has prepared a preliminary draft of the Budget of US$20,184,970 Unit of Account, balanced in revenue and expenses."

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