New Ecowas Chair Sirleaf Prioritizes Economic Growth, Peace & Security

ellen-johnson-sirleafThe Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) leaders have elected Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as their chairperson this weekend in Dakar.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2011, is the first woman to be appointed President of ECOWAS. She takes over from Senegalese president Macky Sall whose tenure comes to a close after he assumed the mantle from Ghanaian president John Mahama.

In her acceptance speech, president Sirleaf described her election by her peers, as “a message to all women in the continent” and also as an indication of the progress and peace Liberia enjoys, which would not have been possible without the tremendous sacrifices and solidarity of the Ecowas community.

President Johnson Sirleaf pledged to work towards achieving the objectives of the regional community’s vision 2020 and to work on two specific areas: security, and strengthening cooperation among member states of ECOWAS.

On the security front, the new president of ECOWAS vowed to fight terrorism saying, “We must ensure that terrorism can no longer gain ground as has been the case in Burkina Faso, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, and Niger.”

“We must also, through a collective and determined effort, make sure that Boko Haram is completely defeated,” she said.

She pointed out further that “As we move towards the achievement of such lofty 2020 goals, we are reminded that the Community faces both challenges and opportunities; such as the sharp reduction in commodity prices and the effect of epidemiological outbreaks which have resulted in a decline in investment and growth,” she said.

Beyond financial difficulties, she indicated that growth is affected by terrorism, drug and human trafficking, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the impact of climate change.

President Sirleaf indicated that it was important to take pride in the high potential of the Ecowas Community for a vibrant integrated market which is currently estimated at the equivalent of $1.3 trillion produced by a wide range of activities in agriculture, commerce, industry and services.

Sirleaf’s tenure will run for 12 months and she faces a tough task ahead as she works towards achieving the objectives of the regional community bloc at a time West Africa is facing rising Islamist insurgency.

The member states urged for more co-ordination in intelligence sharing to counter the rising terror threats.

The leaders also called for a swift resolution to the political impasse in Guinea Bissau and said they will send a delegation to Gambia’s capital Banjul ahead of elections in November.

About Khalid Al Mouahidi 4431 Articles
Khalid Al Mouahidi : A binational from the US and Morocco, Khalid El Mouahidi has worked for several american companies in the Maghreb Region and is currently based in Casablanca, where he is doing consulting jobs for major international companies . Khalid writes analytical pieces about economic ties between the Maghreb and the Mena Region, where he has an extensive network