Lagos, Nigeria - ECOWAS has renewed the mandate of the Ivorian President, Alassane Ouattara, as the Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government for another one year.
This is contained in a 57-point communique, issued Thursday in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, at the end of the 42nd ordinary session of the West African leaders.
The Heads of State and Government paid glowing tribute to President Ouattara for the constant commitment he had demonstrated throughout the year, in guiding the affairs of the community, congratulating him for his positive contribution to the consolidation of the regional integration process and the management of the crises in Mali and Guinea Bissau.
On democracy and good governance, the Heads of State and Government welcomed the increasing acceptance of the Community’s constitutional convergence principles and the gradual deepening of democratic culture in the Region.
They commended the Governments and people of Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Ghana for conducting peaceful Presidential and Legislative elections in the course of 2012, which were adjudged by ECOWAS, as well as local and international observers as free, fair, and transparent.
It also commended Burkina Faso for conducting successful legislative and municipal elections in December 2012.
Authority congratulated President Ernest Bai Koroma on his re-election as President of Sierra Leone, and John Dramani Mahama, on his elevation to the highest office in Ghana.
Authority said it expected that the legislative elections in Guinea and Togo, as well as the general elections in Mali and Guinea Bissau, anticipated in 2013, will similarly be peaceful, consensual, inclusive and credible.
The West African leaders, however, expressed concern about the incidents of political violence, non-acceptance of election results, and military interference that mar the advances made in the democracy agenda, and instructed the ECOWAS Commission to deepen its electoral assistance to Member States.
The Heads of State and Government reiterated their firm commitment to the development of the Region through the acceleration of the integration process, including the implementation of sectoral programmes and the consolidation of the common market within the framework of respect for fundamental principles as contained in the founding Act, Protocols and other relevant texts of ECOWAS, including those relating to the promotion and consolidation of democracy and good governance.
On Regional Economic Performance and Consolidation of the Common Market, the Authority regarded as encouraging the economic performance recorded by the Region in 2012, saying 'In order to consolidate the performance and sustain growth capable of reducing poverty, West African leaders should undertake targeted measures towards sanitizing the macroeconomic framework, deepening structural reforms, diversifying the productive base of the economy, and improving social services.
In that regard, Authority directed the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo, to take additional measures to reinforce the achievements of the different integration projects, particularly those aimed at consolidating the common market, enhancing convergence programmes, promoting the private sector and boosting the resilience of the region through the implementation of appropriate sectoral policies.
The Heads of State and Government welcomed the progress made in the finalization of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) and directed Ouedraogo to continue, in collaboration with the UEMOA Commission, the coordination work needed for the creation of the Customs Union.
Authority stresses in this regard, the need for the effective implementation of the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Goods and therefore, calls for greater appropriation of the Protocol by Member States.
The Heads of State and Government reaffirmed their commitment to the conclusion of a fair and development-oriented regional Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union and welcomed the efforts undertaken by the West African Region in fine-tuning the market access offer.
They directed Ouedraogo to finalize, as soon as possible, proposals to that effect in line with the on-going work on the CET and the development objectives of the Region.
The leaders welcomed the 14 December, 2012, Sipopo Declaration of ACP Heads of State and Government on EPA and called on the Chief Negotiators of the two parties to intensify consultations with greater flexibility, in order to conclude negotiations on the pending issues.
They therefore, called for a meeting of the Chief Negotiators as soon as possible with a view to reaching agreement on the different areas of divergence.
On the crisis in Mali, the West African leaders strongly condemned the on-going suicide bombings and guerilla attacks by terrorist and extremist groups in northern Mali and urged the allied forces to take all necessary steps within the framework of the counter-insurgency operation to neutralize them and ensure the prosecution of collaborators.
Authority expressed its profound gratitude to Government of France for its decisive action and also expressed its deepest gratitude to the Government and People of Chad for their exemplary demonstration of concrete solidarity with the people of Mali and their commitment to the ideals of the African Union.
Its special tribute went to the gallant heroes of this great nation (France) who paid the ultimate price helping Mali to assert its territorial integrity.
Authority endorsed the revised Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for AFISMA and urged both the political leadership and Commanders of the allied forces to ensure improved coordination among themselves for a harmonious and effective operation.
Leaders or duly mandated representatives of the 15 ECOWAS member states were present at the meeting. The Chadian, Burundi, Mauritanian and Moroccan leaders, as well as the President of the UEMOA Commission, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Guinea Bissau, the Commissioner for Peace and Security of the AU Commission, the Secretary-General of the CPLP, and the AU High Representative to Mali and the Sahel and Head of AFISMA, the Force Commanders of AFISMA and ECOMIB, as well as the President of the African Development Bank also participated in the Summit as observers.
The representatives of the following invited countries and Organizations also observed proceedings at the Summit: Algeria, Canada, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, France, Italy, Libya, Spain, UK, USA, and the EU.
The next Ordinary Summit will hold in Abuja, Nigeria, on a date to be determined after consultations by the Chairman of Authority.