Konare hands over ECOWAS mantle, challenges colleagues

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- Malian President Alpha Oumar Konare handed over the mantle of ECOWAS leadership to Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade at the end of a sub-regional Summit in Dakar Friday, and challenged his colleagues to work toward a federated West Africa within the African Union.
Konare described the 25th Summit as a "another decisive step," in the 26-year-history of ECOWAS, saying the Community was being "built with determination and faith.
" But he warned that the 15-nation Community "must go beyond profession of faith" and take concrete steps towards sub-regional integration.
Konare paid tribute to his colleagues, especially President Olusegun Obasanjo, the government and people of Nigeria, for their tremendous support during his two-year tenure as chairman of the Abuja-based Organisation.
He described Nigeria, which accounts for 50 percent of the Community's population and GDP, as the "engine of ECOWAS".
He also expressed gratitude to outgoing ECOWAS Executive Secretary Lansana Kouyate of Guinea, for his fortitude and exemplary qualities in steering the affairs of the organisation since 1997.
Mohammed Ibn Chambas of Ghana was elected at the Dakar Summit as the sixth Executive Secretary to succeed Kouyate.
Konare said he was vacating the ECOWAS chair for Wade, "an able son Africa," and Chambas "who is very well know to us.
" "We have a great chance to succeed individually and collectively as a great 'Country' of 230 million people.
"We have everything, from farm lands to rivers, fish resources, livestock, cocoa, cotton, petroleum and gas, gold, phosphates, hydro-electricity, and human resources," Konare outlined.
In describing West Africa as a land of great sports people, Konare, whose country is hosting the African Cup of Nations' football championship in January 2002, said the sub-region only needed to harness its abundant resources to become a "super power".
In an acceptance speech, Wade commended Konare and Kouyate for their "able leadership" of ECOWAS, and promised to consult them during his tenure.

21 december 2001 22:28:00

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