President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo brought his term as chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to an end yesterday, amidst rising insecurity in the region and concerns over how the bloc can move to restore civilian rule in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso.
President Akufo-Addo handed over to the President of Guinea-Bissau, UmaroSissocoEmbaló, after serving two terms as chair of the ECOWAS Authority.
He led regional efforts to address armed attacks across the Sahel perpetuated by groups linked to ISIS and al-Qaeda.
Despite efforts by leaders of the bloc to address the problem, violence by terrorist groups has gradually spread from the Sahel to the coastal areas of the region, including Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo.
President Akufo-Addo also led sessions of meetings to take important decisions to help restore constitutional order in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, following military takeover of the governments of those countries
ECOWAS, under the President's tenure, suspended the membership of the three countries and imposed a number of sanctions against the military juntas currently controlling the countries, including trade and financial embargo.
The regional body is demanding from the military leaders, an acceptable timetable on plans to restore constitutional order in the suspended nations.
Opening the 61st Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority in Accra yesterday, President Akufo-Addo called for a coordinated approach to address the security concerns in the region and urged his colleagues to commit to the implementation of the regional action plan against terrorism to curtail the threat of terrorism.
"Our determination in this end must be stronger than ever and equally unshaken must be our resolve to maintain the stability of our region and of its member states," he said.
On the rising cost of food in the region driven by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Akufo-Addo urged ECOWAS members to focus on agriculture to attain self-sufficiency to reduce the impact of the high food prices.
He touched on the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region and entreated member states to continue to take precautions to protect their people and economies from the consequences of the pandemic.
He told his colleagues that the region could not afford another hit of the pandemic and commended the collective efforts of the region's leaders to control the spread of the pandemic.
"The management of this pandemic illustrates our organisation's ability to unite our energies to face a significant common threat. However, we must continue to remain vigilant as COVID-19 is still around," he said.