Nigeria: ECOWAS seeks peace, stability in troubled member states

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is pushing for the restoration of peace and stability in several of its member states which are facing political instability and terrorism or are in the throes of transition to democratic governance, especially Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria and Niger.

In a communique issued at the end of its one-day Summit in Nigeria's capital city of Abuja on  Monday, ECOWAS leaders also indicated that they were eager to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU.

They also called for the involvement of all member states in next year's celebration of the 40th anniversary of the founding of ECOWAS, a regional group of 15 member states dedicated to promoting economic integration of the region.

With Burkina Faso's interim President Michel Kafando attending the Summit for the first time since his appointment, the regional bloc welcomed the consensus reached in the country by all the stakeholders and the establishment of transitional organs, while commending political parties, civil society and the armed forces for their contribution to resolving the crisis.

"The Authority urges the transitional authorities to comply with the provisions of the Transitional Charter, particularly the provisions relating to the duration of the transition and to the ineligibility rules contained in the Charter. More importantly, it urges them to strictly comply with the deadline for holding democratic elections by November 2015," it said

The Summit urged the Transitional Authorities to ensure, at all times, inclusiveness in the process and consensus-building in the implementation of the transition programmes, and urged them to respect the Constitution, adhere to the rule of law and to guarantee individual freedom and the safety of all political leaders.

On Mali, the communique expressed deep concern over the security situation in the northern part of the country and strongly condemned the continued terrorist attacks on civilian populations and international troops.

The leaders reiterated their call on all the armed groups in northern Mali signatories to the Ouagadougou Agreement of 18 June 2013 to distance themselves from the terrorist groups.

They commended the progress recorded in the Algiers Talks to end the crisis and urged all the parties, in particular the general secretaries of the armed groups, to be personally involved in the process with a view to reaching an Agreement as soon as possible on the basis of the Draft submitted to the Parties by the Mediation, as a solid ground for negotiation.

The Summit expressed deep concern over the continuing terrorist attacks of the insurgent group, Boko Haram, in Nigeria, and expressed its sympathy with the Government and people of Nigeria as well as to the families of victims of the recent terrorist attacks in the north of the country

"The Authority appeals to the International Community to support Niger in order to enable this country to deal with the effects of refugees inflow due to Boko Haram attacks in Northern Nigeria," the communique said.

The Nigerian insurgency has spurned 142,000 refugees and returnees in Niger and Chad.

On Guinea Bissau, the Heads of State and Government reaffirmed their firm commitment to support the country in the pursuit of reforms aimed at consolidating peace, stability and security in the country, and promoting sustainable development.

"In that regard, they encouraged the Government of Guinea Bissau to be fully involved in the conduct of the reforms and the implementation of defined programmes.

"The Authority underscores the need to mobilise sufficient financial resources to support Guinea Bissau in its post-transition consolidation efforts. In that regard, and in view of the Donors’ Roundtable scheduled for March 2015, the Authority appeals to all ECOWAS bilateral and multilateral partners to participate in the roundtable and take due account of Guinea Bissau’s medium and long term development prospects in designing their support to the country,'' the communique said.

The leaders decided to extend the mandate of the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau beyond 31 Dec. 2014 for another six months with the retention of the existing force strength.

On the EPA, the communique urged the West African Chief Negotiators to expedite actions to organise, as soon as possible, the signing of the Agreement and its ratification by all member states.

PANA reports that the text of the Agreement was signed on 12 December 2014 by the European Council of Ministers

On the 40th anniversary of ECOWAS, the Authority said it had taken note of the programme of activities for 2015, both in member states and the headquarters of the Commission, welcoming, in particular, the cultural and sporting events planned to that effect as well as the publication of a book on the achievements and the stakes in the deepening of the integration process in West Africa.

"The Authority urges all Member States to fully get involved in the celebration of this anniversary. It requests the Commission to work closely with Nigerian authorities in the preparation of this important event in Abuja," the communique said.

PANA reports that the meeting was attended by Presidents of nine out of the 15 member states, while the remaining six countries were represented by the Foreign Ministers or other top government officials.

The leaders who attended included Presidents Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin Republic; Michel Kafando of Burkina Faso; Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire; John Dramani Mahama of Ghana; José Mario Vaz of Guinea Bissau; Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of the Republic of Mali; Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger; Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria and Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe of Togo.

Cabo Verde; Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone were represented.

The 47th Ordinary Summit of the regional bloc will also be held in Abuja, Nigeria, in May 2015
-0- PANA SEG/MA 15Dec2014

15 december 2014 23:16:12




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