Cote d'Ivoire/ECOWAS: Ghana's President assumes office as ECOWAS Chair as summit ends

Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) - The 44th ordinary summit of ECOWAS rounded off here Saturday with President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana assuming the post of the chairmanship of the 15-member regional bloc.

The leaders on Friday elected President Mahama to a one-year term, succeeding Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara who served two terms.

They also agreed to delay the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU, because of some concerns raised by Nigeria over the agreement.

Speaking shortly after President Ouattara handed over to him, President Mahama said his three priority areas would be peace and security, economic integration and development of West Africa as well as development and expansion of infrastructure.

He thanked his colleagues for electing him Chairman, saying he was ''truly honoured, deeply humbled and filled with a great sense of responsibility''.

''On behalf of the government and people of Ghana, I accept this important responsibility to serve the people of our region,'' he said, praising President Ouattara for his ''excellent leadership'' in the last two years.

On the EPA, the West Africa leaders decided to set up a committee to address the concerns raised by Nigeria before the agreement will be signed.

The committee, which comprises Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Cote d'Ivoire, will meet in Accra, Ghana's capital, within the next two weeks.

''Authority endorses the conclusion of the Agreement in principle but notes that there are outstanding issues. Consequently, Authority directs the Chief Negotiators to take all the necessary steps within the next two months to address the issues raised,'' the leaders said in their communique.

PANA reports that the two-day summit was the best attended in recent times, with Presidents of 13 out of the 15 member states in attendance.

Only Togo, which was represented by Foreign Minister Robert Dussey, and Cabo Verde, which was represented by its Prime Minister, Jose Maria Pereira Neves, did not have their Presidents at the summit.
-0- PANA SEG 29March2014

29 march 2014 14:26:08

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