From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
In order to advance regional integration in the West African sub-region, member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) were invited to strengthen their resilience in the face of terrorist attacks, health crises and climate change.
The President of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of the Republic of Ghana, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, made the appeal during the 87th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers in Abuja.
Botchwey said 2021 has been a particularly busy year at the regional level, with several extraordinary Council of Ministers and summits.
Botchwey also said it was a sign of vitality and also a manifestation of a community facing challenges.
She added, however, that the regional body can take pride in the fact that the ECOWAS region has resolutely faced these challenges and made constant efforts to address the challenges.
Botchwey further stated that the solidarity of action of ECOWAS member states and the collective determination to move forward has enabled the sub-region to improve its resilience in the face of health and security shocks, asserting that by Consequently, the sub-region expected an improvement in economic growth compared to 2020.
âIn order to advance our regional integration agenda and transform the lives of Community citizens, we must continue to build resilience and improve our integration agenda. This is particularly necessary vis-Ã -vis the following threats: The health crisis of the Coronavirus which persists and has completely changed our way of life. With the new variant and the risk of a new wave and several countries closing their borders, we must more than ever count on our regional solidarity.
“The recurrence of terrorist attacks in the front-line countries of the Sahel (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria) with their many victims and to which the response at this time is the assiduous implementation of our action plan against terrorism to support and complement national efforts.
“Climate change, which is a constraint on the regional integration process and against which we must undertake an ecological transition, with, for example, renewable energies, and an adapted agricultural policy”, said Botchwey.
Botchwey added that by working together on all the issues facing the region, the prospects for success are greatly improved and would create the conditions for a prosperous region.
Regarding the political situation in the sub-region, Botchwey said that the ECOWAS region has recorded significant achievements in the area of ââdemocracy and governance.
She also said that the recent elections in Cabo Verde and Gambia, following those in Niger and Benin, were examples of the dynamism of democracy in the region.
Botchwey said, however, that violations of constitutional order in Guinea and Mali have undermined the region’s progress and pose significant risks.
âIn this regard, the heads of state and government of ECOWAS have taken very strong measures to ensure the restoration of constitutional order in these countries. One of the key decisions of the ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit on the Situations in Mali and Guinea held in Accra on November 7, 2021 was the agreement to revise our Additional Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance. A report on the work done so far on the Protocol revision proposals will be presented to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government at the Conference on December 12, 2021, âBotchwey said.
For his part, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, declared as the year 2021 drew to a close, the activities of the ECOWAS institutions took place in a global and regional context that was still marked. by the COVID-19 pandemic. and the challenges it poses, especially with regard to the emergence of the new variant, the Omicron, the risks of a new wave and inequalities in access to vaccines.
Brou added that on the security front, the ECOWAS region is still painfully marked by deadly terrorist attacks.
âOn behalf of the institutions and staff of ECOWAS, I respectfully bow to the memory of the innocent victims who have unfortunately been unfairly torn from the affection of their loved ones in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. To these victims must be added those of the accidents in Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
âIn addition to the devastating effects of this security crisis, there are the ravages of climate-related natural disasters, especially floods.
âOn the political level, the credibility of the recent elections in Cape Verde and the Gambia, as well as in Niger and Benin, attests to the vitality of democracy in our region. Nevertheless, the challenges of the transition in Mali and Guinea must be taken up to allow these two brotherly countries to resume their place within the Community â, declared Brou.