ECOWAS extra-ordinary meeting ends in Abuja, fails to select new President

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - The Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS) extra-ordinary meeting of Heads of State, held Tuesday at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, ended without agreeing on which country -- Benin or Burkina Faso -- would produce the next President of the ECOWAS Commission.

A replacement for James Victor Gbeho, who is retiring after completing Ghana's tenure as President of the ECOWAS Commission, was supposed to have been selected at the summit.

Gbeho was appointed following the exit of Ibn Chambas as the Commission’s head.

Gbeho told journalists at the end of the meeting that the Chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State, President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, wanted to hold further consultations with both Benin and Burkina Faso before announcing a replacement, especially as President Blaise Campore of Burkina Faso was absent from the summit.

He said "An ad-hoc Committee, headed by the President of Sierra Leone, Bai Ernest Koroma, had been constituted in March 2011 to draw up modalities for the smooth exchange and distribution of offices among member States."

Koroma's report was discussed in the spirit of keeping the principles of equity, transparency and fairness in the distribution of positions.

According to Gbeho, “The Heads of State in particular deliberated on the principles enunciated in that report that should guide ECOWAS in determining the positions in the Commission for an equitable, transparent and predictable basis.

He said: "In that respect, they accepted all the principles that were enunciated by the Committee as well as the recommendations made as to which post should go to which country. They agreed on all except the position of President of the ECOWAS Commission.

"The Chairman of the authority will hold talks with the Presidents of the two countries with a view to breaking the logjam.

Gbeho went on to indicate which countries would get what as soon as the new Commissioners are appointed.

"The post of Vice President will go to Liberia; the rest of the post of Commissioners will be as follows: Macro-economic policy will go to Mali; Political Affairs, Peace and Security will go to Nigeria; Agriculture, Environment, Water Resources will go to Togo; Administration and Finance will go to Sierra Leone; Customs, Trade, Industry and Free Movement will go to Niger; Infrastructure will go to the Gambia; and as you know, Senegal will continue to occupy the position of Human Development and gender until 2012 and therefore there will be no change as far as that position is concerned.”

Gbeho explained: "each country where the positions had been zoned to would forward three candidates each who would be interviewed. Selected candidates will be screened before
announcements will be made."

The Summit was presided over by the Chairman and President of Nigeria, Dr. Jonathan, with  Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, Mohaoumdou Issoufou of Niger Republic, Yahaya Jammeh of Gambia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Boni Yayi of Benin Republic, Abdul Wade of Senegal and Alpha Conde of Guinea were in attendance.

Ghana Vice President Dramani Mahama, represented his President. Other leaders were represented by Ministers.
-0- PANA MON/VAO 18Oct2011

18 october 2011 19:38:52


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