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General News
President Campaore is new Chairman of ECOWAS 1/20/2007
From Kwaku Osei Bonsu, GNA Special Correspondent, Ouagadougou

Oaugadougou, Jan. 20, GNA - The 31st Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS ended in Ouagadougou on Friday with the election of President Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso, as its new Chairman.

He takes over from the Nigerien President, Mamadou Tandja who completed his two-term tenure during the one-day summit attended by eight other Heads of State, including President John Agyekum Kufuor. The others were President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, President Thomas Yayi Boni of Benin, and Malian President Amadou Toumane Toure.

The new Chairman pledged to focus on the promotion of peace and security.

Earlier, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, President of the ECOWAS Commission, stated that the realities of global economic and trade relations enjoined the 15-member sub-regional body to re-examine the relationships between state sovereignty and collective interests. The world, he said, was now made up of powerful trade blocs, where even the most powerful states have long abandoned individual bargaining in favour of collective approaches to trade negotiations and security.

"We therefore need to re-examine and interrogate relationships between member-states and the Commission, between ECOWAS institutions and other regional institutions in the region to achieve greater synergy and avoid duplication of effort and wasteful proliferation of initiatives."

Dr Chambas noted that ECOWAS has chalked significant successes, citing the progress towards a common market and negotiations with Europe under the Economic Partnership Agreement, the ECOWAS common market involving the consolidation of the free trade area and the introduction of a common external tariff.

It has, in addition, made an appreciable headway in its infrastructure programme and mentioned the 500 million-dollar flagship West Africa Gas Pipeline project, now about 95 per cent completed and on course to pump Nigerian gas to Benin, Togo and Ghana as one of its achievements.

He used the occasion to pay glowing tribute to Nigerian President Obasanjo who was attending his last summit of the ECOWAS as Head of State, for his total and unalloyed commitment towards the promotion of peace, security, stability and democratic governance and development of the region.

He provided leadership and made Nigerian human and material resources readily available to end conflicts and restore hope to the people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Togo and Cote d'' Ivoire.

President Obasanjo said, 93We must remain steadfastly engaged in the stability of member countries coming out of crisis to ensure that there is no reversal of the peace situation.

"Our Organs and Agencies for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts must be strengthened and invested with the capacity for proactive and pre-emptive action."

He said it was his hope that now that the sub-region was moving away from conflicts, it would settle down to the purpose of economic cooperation and social integration.

Liberian President Johnson-Sirleaf, who was attending the meeting for the first time, conveyed her country''s deep gratitude to ECOWAS for saving it from total destruction.

She said they were going to pay back the sacrifices made for Liberia''s peace by working with all to help bring peace to all troubled spots in the sub-region.

Out-going President Tandja said without peace and security, the individual and collective effort at achieving integration by the ECOWAS member-states would come to nothing.

The 15-member sub-regional body set up in 1975 would hold its next summit in the Nigerian capital Abuja on June 7, this year. 20 Jan. 07Source:

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