ECOWAS discuss Morocco’s membership as summit opens in Abuja

By Temitope Ponle
Abuja –   The 52nd ECOWAS Heads of State and Government summit opened in Abuja on Saturday as leaders discuss Morocco’s membership of the bloc and the security situation in Guinea Bissau.

Morocco had made its request to be a member of ECOWAS while Tunisia requested to be an observer country.

The 51st Ordinary Session held in Monrovia, Liberia in June agreed in principle to Morocco’s membership of the sub-regional bloc and directed the commission to consider the implications of the country’s membership.

The commission confirmed that study on the impact of Morocco’s membership was carried out and the outcome would be submitted to the Authority.

Morocco was, however not invited for the 52nd summit.

Its Foreign Ministry reportedly said that the country had to wait until the first quarter of 2018 to know the decision of the ECOWAS Heads of State which would be announced at an extraordinary session.

Tunisia has, however, been granted an observer status by the authority and the commission has been further directed to take necessary measures to ensure all procedures relating to an observer status are implemented.

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The commission also confirmed that the authority called on Mauritania to submit its request for readmission to ECOWAS.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and Tunisian President Beji Essebsi are scheduled to make presentations as special guests at the opening session of the summit.

The summit would also discuss the political and security situation in Guinea Bissau.

The ECOWAS recently said its mission in Guinea Bissau had taken an “excruciating toll” on the financial resources of the sub-region.

The ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau (ECOMIB) made up of troops from Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo and Niger was deployed in May 2012 following a military coup in April 2012.

ECOMIB helped to establish a civilian-led transitional government, which ended with the election of President José Mario Vaz in a run-off in May 2014 for a five-year term.

The international community has called on authorities of Guinea Bissau to implement the Conakry Agreement of Oct. 2016.

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The agreement is the primary framework for a peaceful resolution of the political crisis in the country.

The Heads of State went in for a closed-door session before making any statements, which is away from its usual tradition.

The West African leaders, during the closed session, would review the reports of the 79th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers and the 39th Ordinary Meeting of the Mediation and Security Council.

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria is scheduled to present a welcome address at the opening of the summit followed by statements of President of the commission, Marcel de Souza.

Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel and Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat would present statements.

The opening address would be made by the Chairman of the Authority, President Faure Gnassingbé of Togo.

NAN reports that all 15-member states of the ECOWAS are represented at the summit. (NAN)

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