12 states adopt ECOWAS travel document

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- Twelve out of the 15 countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have printed the sub-regional grouping's identity card, the organisation's executive secretary, Lansana Kouyate, said in Dakar Saturday.
"The citizens of these countries embraced the ECOWAS travel document because it is less expensive and gives people the opportunity to move freely in the sub-region," Kouyate said.
"In some ECOWAS countries, citizens are looking for this document more than the national passport, particularly travellers who don't go beyond ECOWAS," Kouyate revealed when assessing the progress reached in promoting sub-regional integration through the free movement of populations.
On the other hand, Kouyate said, ECOWAS had launched on May 25 2000, a passport whose specimen were distributed to member states.
"Benin already issued it and the other countries will soon do so.
I have promises from two or three countries who will issue it between now and December 2001", he added.
ECOWAS also abolished visas between its state members as part of the free movement of people which is a prerequisite for economic integration, he said, describing this decision as "very important".
"The right of residence and settlement, which were also adopted and approved by ECOWAS, were not equally successful because they were violated here and there," Kouyate regretted.
He called for continued efforts to find solutions to these outstanding problems.
"We need to do our best for these rights to be applied and for visas to be abolished," he said in an interview with PANA in Dakar.
"The presence of ECOWAS in conflicts like those in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and all the other latent ones where it intervened was so remarkable, appreciated and criticised to the extent that in the end, we forgot that the community organisation achieved very important things in the economic field," the executive secretary concluded.

07 october 2001 18:37:00

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