ECOWAS holds 64th ordinary session in Abuja.

The 64th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government opened on Sunday, December 10 at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Nigeria.

In his opening statement, H.E. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, urged West African leaders and Heads of Government to prioritize good governance for the people, as it serves as a catalyst for socio-economic transformation and development.

‘’By providing good governance that tackles the challenges of poverty, inequality and other concerns of the people, we would have succeeded in addressing some of the root causes of military intervention in civilian processes in our region’’.

He emphasised that the goal of ECOWAS to achieve a fully integrated region cannot be realised without peace, security, and stability saying; ‘’This is why the region, as far back as 2001, rec-ognized democracy as the only form of governance capable of fostering development, inclu-siveness and social well-being of our people. It is on this basis that the West African region be-came the first part of the Continent to fully embrace democratization, by establishing compre-hensive frameworks with legal protocols that emphasize respect for Democracy, Good Govern-ance, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law.’’

The ECOWAS Chairman added that it was in furtherance of this objective that the leaders sub-scribed to the protocols and the conditions attached which stipulated ‘’specific punitive measures to be taken against any Member State opting for an unconstitutional change of government”

He reiterated that ECOWAS is still committed to re-engaging with the countries under military rule on the basis of realistic and short transition plans that can deliver democracy and good governance. “On our part, we should be prepared to provide them with technical and material support, to ensure the achievement of these strategic goals”.

The ECOWAS Chairman described the attempt by some of the countries under military rule to float an Alliance of Sahel States as a ‘phantom attempt to divert attention from our mutual quest for democracy and good governance that will impact the life of our people.’’

On the recent disturbances in Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau, the ECOWAS Chairman asked fellow leaders to pay attention to protecting democracy, reiterating ECOWAS’ zero tolerance to unconstitutional changes of government.

“I urge all of us to stand strong and be highly committed in the face of any challenge in Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau. The message must go down clearly that we support a democratically elected government, not an unconstitutional exercise.”

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, H.E. Dr. Omar Alieu Touray told the summit that in line with provisions of the ECOWAS protocol, the commission has allowed the countries under military rule access to medical and humanitarian supplies in the interest of the population.

However, he said, “reports from humanitarian agencies show that the military authorities have been interfering with humanitarian access.”

He reported that there had been violations of the sanctions imposed on the affected countries as there had been a massive movement of cash by individuals across borders and a high vol-ume of transit goods through Burkina Faso to reach the territory of Niger and smuggling through porous borders and inland waterways.

The ECOWAS Commission President said the Commission had signed several financing agree-ments with development partners including seven agreements with the European Union cover-ing areas of trade, migration, energy and agriculture amounting to 212 million Euros.

The African Union described the commitment of ECOWAS to zero tolerance to unconstitution-al change of government as exemplary and said the AU will intensify its collaboration with ECOWAS towards the development of the African Standby Force.
Represented by the commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, the African Union reiterated its commitment to promoting collective security and democracy in the region.

A communiqué is expected at the end of the Summit.