ECOWAS Leadership Curtain Falls on Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Monrovia – President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ends her one-year tenure as Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS on a high note of successes and landmark achievements.
She was elected ECOWAS Chairperson on June 4, 2016, at the 49th Ordinary Session of the Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government in Dakar, Senegal.
She replaced Senegalese President Macky Sall, who was preceded by Ghana’s Former President John Mahama in 2015.
Upon assuming the chairmanship, she immediately prioritized peace consolidation, strengthening of the regional security architecture, concluding negotiations and legal actions, and financial stability, all within the context of ECOWAS Vision 2020.
Consequently, the Liberian President accomplished the following milestones during the last 12 months working in concert with the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and in collaboration with Community institutions and development partners.
Consolidating Regional Peace and Security Architecture: With the support of partners and other multilateral organizations, including the African Union and the United Nations, President Sirleaf’s tenure has fared well in regional peace and security.
To this end, terrorism has been seriously tackled, intelligence capacity is being strengthened, transhumance activities being managed, and democratic consolidation and coordination have been enhanced over the past one year.
The successful mediation of the political crisis in The Gambia, including successful resolution of the outcome of the presidential election that upheld the rightful winning party, followed by the departure of Former President Yahya Jammeh, and the holding of parliament elections, received the commendation of the international community.
The peaceful transitions of power in Cape Verde and Ghana, and ongoing mediation efforts in the Republics of Guinea Bissau and Mali are tangible feats in ECOWAS’ commitment to democracy, peace and security under President Sirleaf.
ECOWAS’ conflict mechanisms are being applied on the ground actions to tackle violent extremism in Northern Mali and Burkina Faso, Northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin.
Recent successful dialogues between the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari Boko Haram led to the release of 88 kidnapped Chibok Girls further improving regional security.
President Sirleaf‘s proactive diplomacy contributed to the elimination of recent tensions in Cote d’Ivoire caused by mutinous soldiers.
She and her colleagues remain committed to resolving transnational organized crimes in the Gulf of Guinea.
Conclusion of negotiations and legal actions that enhance trade and regional integration: ECOWAS’regional integration plans remains on course.
This is a result, largely, of the Community’s collective resolve to fully implement the Protocol on Free Movement of People and Goods, particularly the Common External Tariff (CET), the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), and the Economic Partnership Agreement.
Outstanding, unsigned Protocols and Conventions are now significantly reduced. For example, Liberia made history by ratifying all remaining ECOWAS instruments under the watch of President Sirleaf.
Transformation of ECOWAS Vision 2020: The gradual march towards attaining ECOWAS Vision 2020 of transitioning from an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of People remains within reach.
ECOWAS and its partners are accelerating work on The Lagos-Dakar highway, joint border posts, and regional projects on energy, including the regional power pool. These projects and others will accelerate cross border trade.
Air Transport Master Plan is being implemented in line with the Yamoussoukro Declaration and Decision. Already, air connectivity that provides cost effective movement of citizens are improving with new fleets and hubs of Air Cote d’Ivoire and Med View Airline.
New models in agribusiness are being validated to improve production and extension and the attraction of young people in agriculture to minimize youth unemployment.
Institutional Reform: As one of main priorities of her tenure as Chair, President Sirleaf‘s desire to finalize the ongoing review of the restructuring of the Community institutions was implemented when she paid working visits to ECOWAS Institutions early last December.
While in Abuja, the ECOWAS Chair met with the President, the Vice President and staff of the Commission, the President and Judges of the Community Court of Justice, and the Speaker and Bureau of the ECOWAS Parliament at their respective headquarters.
The visits provided her an opportunity to better understand the internal workings of the Commission and other principal community institutions. This led to the implementation of many timely reform matters, including the fast tracking of the work of the Maxwell Stamp consultants in restructuring Community institutions.
Improved Financial Stability: Careful negotiation by the Chair and the ECOWAS Commission has led to a steady increase in the payment of the Community Levy by Member States.
Enhancement of powers of ECOWAS Parliament: The ECOWAS Parliament, during President Sirleaf’s one year-tenure, finally received the endorsement of the Authority of the Supplementary Act on the Enhancement of Powers of the Parliament that includes the regional Parliament to review the Community budget.
Full involvement with ECOWAS Parliament’s Delocalized meeting: Four decentralized meetings of the ECOWAS Parliament were held in April intended to bring the Community’s Parliament closer to the over 300 million people of the region.
President Sirleaf inaugurated the first session in Liberia. The Liberia meeting and subsequent delocalized meetings in Mali and Cape Verde were designed to address urgent matters affecting democracy, health and youth in the ECOWAS region.
Nat Bayjay, Minister Counselor, Liberian Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria