ECOWAS leaders renew commitment to integration

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- ECOWAS leaders ended their two-day 25th ordinary Summit in Dakar Friday after renewing their commitment to political and economic integration as well as the fostering of democracy and good governance within the sub-region.
"The Authority stressed that the strengthening of the political and economic dimensions of regional integration must be accompanied by appropriate measures for the development of the national economies," the final communiqué of the Summit said.
Noting the progress being made in the area of democracy in the region, the ECOWAS leaders adopted the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance to further promote democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Member States as well as preventing conflicts.
They also adopted the Protocol on the fight against Corruption and appealed to all the governments of the community to abide by the provisions of the Protocol.
The Summit noted the opening of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money laundering (GIABA) in Dakar and called on Member States to take all necessary measures to make the institution operational and equip it to combat money laundering and all related crimes effectively.
"Considering that terrorism constitutes a serious threat to world peace and security, the Authority (of Heads of State) strongly condemned" the 11 September terrorist attacks on the US and called on ECOWAS members States to ratify all the UN and OAU Conventions on terrorism and the ECOWAS Conventions on mutual assistance in legal matters and extradition.
The communiqué expressed appreciation for the unrelenting efforts of the five countries (Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone) in the second monetary zone, to adopt a common currency with the eight nations in the West African Monetary Union (UEMOA), which is operating the CFA francs.
The two monetary zones are to merge into an ECOWAS monetary union in 2004.
The Authority called on ECOWAS Convergence Council composed of Ministers of Finance and Governors of ECOWAS Central Banks to ensure the harmonisation of programmes for the single monetary zone.
The 10 leaders, who attended the Dakar meeting, urged the 15 ECOWAS member States to ensure strict compliance with the Community's macro-economic convergence criteria.
The Summit also adopted the special regional food security programme in recognition of the important role of agriculture in the socio-economic development of member States.
Cognisant of the crucial role of integrated water resource management in West Africa to the achievement of regional food security, the ECOWAS leaders directed the Executive Secretary to take all necessary measures for the prompt implementation of the regional action programme on the integrated management of water resources.
The Executive Secretary was also directed to work closely with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to mobilise the necessary financial resources from external partners towards the implementation of the regional programme.
The ECOWAS leaders expressed concern at the continuing energy crisis in the region and reaffirmed their determination to build the West African Power pool, to promote the joint exploitation of the energy resources for Member states and enable them to fulfil their development needs.
They noted with satisfaction, the significant progress achieved in the creation of the private regional airline "ECOAIR" and the private coastal shipping line "ECOMARINE".
The Summit urged the regional promoters to make the projects operational as soon as possible and also called on Member States to ratify the Supplementary Protocol amending the ECOWAS Treaty and the protocol establishing the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) not later than June 2002.
The Summit, which also adopted the lyrics of the ECOWAS anthem, elected Ghana's Mohammed Ibn Chambas as sixth Executive Secretary for the next four years, taking over from Lansana Kouyate from Guinea, who assumed the post in 1997.
Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade took over the ECOWAS chair from Malian President Alpha Omar Konare, while the next 26th Summit has been fixed for December 2002 at a venue yet to be decided.

21 december 2001 18:18:00

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