ECOWAS Urges Gambia to Expedite Adoption of New Constitution

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The Authority of Heads of States and Governments of the Economic Community of West African States, during its Sixty-Fifth (65th) Ordinary Session on 7th July 2024 in Abuja, Nigeria urged the Gambia government and stakeholders to expedite the adoption of a new Constitution.

To consolidate the achievements recorded in the integration process and sustain an inclusive region of peace, security, and prosperity, the Authority takes several decisions.

On Economic Performance, the Authority said it took note of the global economic context characterised by the lingering geopolitical tensions and the easing of inflationary pressures linked to the tightening of monetary policy by most central banks. 

“Against this backdrop, it welcomes the positive economic outlook for ECOWAS in 2024, with economic growth expected to accelerate to 4.3% and continued fiscal consolidation efforts. Nevertheless, it notes the persistent inflationary pressures and growing public debt ratio in the Region,” it said in its final communique.  

According to the statement, it urges Member States to continue to implement economic and financial policies conducive to sustainable and inclusive economic growth, with sound public finance management that will lead to compliance with the macroeconomic convergence criteria.

On the ECOWAS Single Currency, the authority said to enable the Commission to regularly map out the macroeconomic convergence path for Member States and the Community, there is a need for Member States to regularly transmit to the Commission their Multi-Year Convergence Programmes (MYCPs) for the relevant periods.

“Accordingly, it invites all Member States to prepare and transmit to the Commission their Multi-Year Convergence Programmes for the period 2025-2029 no later than 31st October 2024. The Commission is to provide an update on the transmission of the MYCPs at the next Ordinary Session of the Authority,” it says.

The authority further explained that it has taken note of the conclusions of the second meeting of the High-Level Committee on the Practical Modalities for the creation of the ECO. Commending the Committee for the quality of its report, it has decided to maintain the Stability and Macroeconomic Convergence Pact among the ECOWAS Member States as it stands and further directs the Commission to submit a draft Supplementary Act defining the modalities for the participation of Member States in the Monetary Union at its first Ordinary Session in 2025.

The authority further instructed “the Commission, in conjunction with WAMA, to conduct a cost assessment and identify sources and modalities of financing for the establishment of the institutions needed for the creation of the ECO and submit it at its first Ordinary Session in 2025, the High-Level Committee to submit a report at its next Ordinary Session”.

On Food Security, the authority said: “The Authority took note of the concerns raised on the worrisome food crisis in the region and instructed the Commission to take all the necessary measures to support ECOWAS Member States in mitigating the impact on the most vulnerable people.” Furthermore, it calls on all the technical and financial partners to rally their support for ECOWAS Member States and jointly tackle the issues of food insecurity and malnutrition in the region.

On Road Transport, the authority noted the excessive damage incurred by Community roads by overloading and directed Member States to comply with the axle load limits in the new harmonized Community Text (Supplementary Act SA.3/07/22) on overloaded haulage trucks which it said results in the premature deterioration of roads constructed with Member States limited financial resources.

“The Authority further directs Road and Transport Ministers in Member States to implement the new Road Safety Policy as adopted by the Authority at its December 2021 Session in Supplementary Act A/SA.4/12/21, towards reducing the number of fatalities by 50% by 2030 as set by the World Health Organisation in the global 2nd Decade of Action on Road Safety,” it added.

On Air Transport, the authority reported that it has raised concerns about the high cost of air transport in the region, describing it as the highest on the continent, adding that it has an impact on the development of Tourism, Trade, and the free movement of persons and services.

“The Authority directs Air Transport 5 Ministers, and Civil Aviation Authorities of Member States to work with the ECOWAS Commission to implement the ECOWAS Common Policy on Aviation Charges, Taxes, and Fees, to use air transport to expedite economic development and deepen regional integration process,” it directed.

On obstacles to the Free Movement of Goods, the Authority said it has instructed the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) Task Force and the Commission to accelerate the implementation of measures to facilitate the free movement of persons and goods along the regional corridors.

“The Authority welcomes the operationalization of the Interconnected System for the Management of Goods in Transit (SIGMAT) as efficient tool to secure the movement of goods along the corridors, to fight fraud, and to substantially improve the mobilisation of customs revenue and invites all the Member States to use this digital platform. The Commission is directed to provide technical assistance to Member States for the full deployment of SIGMAT,’ the statement indicates.

Peace, Security, and Governance 

On Peace, Security, and Governance in the region, the Authority commended the ‘laudable’ efforts made by Member States and the ECOWAS Commission to consolidate democracy, peace, security and stability in the region.

“It notes, in particular, the successful and peaceful elections that took place during the year in Senegal and Togo. The Authority welcomes the peaceful outcome of the dialogue between the All Peoples Congress (APC) and the Government in the Republic of Sierra Leone, a testament to the collective efforts towards peace and stability,” it adds.

The authority, however, said it has noted the continued challenges to security and stability in the region caused by terrorism, violent extremism, transnational organised crime, unconstitutional changes of government, misinformation and disinformation sowing distrust and undermining regional values and norms. It further expressed concern over the specter of proxy wars in the region as a consequence of renewed geopolitical and geostrategic competition unfolding in the region.

The authority said, it has in this regard, taken the following decisions: On Democracy and Good Governance: “The authority reaffirms its unflinching commitment to good governance and Constitutional order.

While commending the Commission for its diligence in engaging Member States in consultations for the review of the 2001 Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, it has directed the Commission to pursue further consultations with Member States, to finalise the revision for consideration at its next session. 

On The Gambia, ECOWAS urges the Government and stakeholders to expedite the adoption of the new Constitution.

“On Ghana, the Authority takes note of preparations for the 7th December 2024 General Elections and encourages the Government and stakeholders in the electoral process to continue prioritising inclusivity, transparency and consensus-building towards the peaceful conduct of the elections to further strengthen the country’s enviable democratic culture and stability.

“In that regard, the Authority directs the Commission to undertake a pre-election fact-finding mission to Ghana and to accompany initiatives towards enhancing a participatory and peaceful electoral process.

“On Guinea Bissau, the Authority urges the Government to accelerate the process of holding new legislative elections to re-establish the Popular National Assembly and enable the election of members of the National Electoral Commission,” the communique says.

The bloc also reiterates its call on all political stakeholders to prioritise dialogue and consensus building to enhance social cohesion towards strengthening the country’s stability and progress, and instructs the Commission to accompany Guinea Bissau in consolidating democracy, peace and stability.

While congratulating the Government, institutions and the people of Senegal on the peaceful conduct of the 24th March Presidential election for the resilience and adherence shown during its recent election, and the Government and people of Togo for the successful conduct of its Legislative and Regional elections, it said it has taken note of the adoption of a new Constitution in Togo by the National Assembly, “the Authority encourages the Togolese authorities and stakeholders to continue to prioritise dialogue towards social cohesion and national unity.

“On Sierra Leone, the Authority commends the Government and the All Peoples Congress (APC) for the signing of the ‘Agreement for National Unity’ and urges them to commit to implementing it within the stipulated timeframe and persevere it in resolving all differences within the agreement’s framework.

The Authority further urged all stakeholders to commit to the implementation of the Report of the Tripartite Committee and refrain from resorting to violent means to avoid escalating the already tense political situation in the country. It directs the ECOWAS Commission to accompany the Government and people of Sierra Leone in the implementation of the ‘Agreement for National Unity’ and the recommendations of the Tripartite Committee’s Report, and called on development partners to continue supporting the Government and people of Sierra Leone in consolidating democracy, peace and socio-economic development.

On the planned deployment of the ECOWAS Stabilisation Mission in Sierra Leone, the Authority welcomed the preparations made so far and directed the Commission and the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff to expedite the arrangements with Troop Contributing Countries (TCC) towards the deployment of the Mission.

On the fight against terrorism and other security threats the authority said: “The Authority reasserts its commitment to the eradication of terrorism and other threats to the peace, security and stability of the region. In that regard, it welcomes the proposals made by the Ministers of Defence and Finance towards activating a regional force to fight against terrorism, notably the setting up of a 5000-man Force with a start-up of a 1650-man Brigade that could be incrementally scaled up within a specified timeframe.

“The Authority instructs the President of the Commission to facilitate further consultations on the modalities and options for mobilising internal financial and material resources on a mandatory basis to support the activation of the regional counter-terrorism force, including the convening of a technical meeting of the responsible ministries.

“The Authority directs the President of the Commission to explore further resource mobilisation opportunities with the African Union Commission, including within the framework of the UNSC Resolution 2917 of 21 December, 2023 and the outcome of the jointly facilitated AU-UNECOWAS High-Level Panel on Security and Development in the Sahel. The Authority directs the Commission to strengthen synergies and collaboration with sub-regional initiatives, including the Multinational Joint Task Forces of the Accra Initiative and the Lake Chad Basin.”

The authority further reported it has directed the ECOWAS Commission to develop a reinforced regional framework to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IIU) fishing and to initiate discussions with external partners to combat IIU fishing and the associated dumping of toxic waste in the Region’s maritime domain.

On Peace Support Operations, the authority said it has instructed the Commission to deploy a mission to assess the financial implications of the ECOWAS Mission in The Gambia and the ECOWAS Stabilisation Support Mission in Guinea Bissau and to evaluate the current security and political situations in The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau concerning the status and operations of the missions.

On the transition process in Guinea, the Authority said it has welcomed the relative progress achieved, including the planned referendum on the Constitution in 2024. “It welcomes on-going interactions between the Commission and the transition authorities and commends the Guinean authorities for reaffirming their unflinching membership in the ECOWAS Community.

The Authority said it has directed the Commission to dispatch the technical mission to further deepen collaboration with Guinea on the transition and urged the Transition authorities to prioritise the facilitation of an inclusive inter-Guinean dialogue involving all political stakeholders to ensure a consensual and peaceful transition process.

The authority, however, expressed disappointment with the lack of progress in engagements with the authorities of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger and instructed the President of the Commission to facilitate a more vigorous approach in line with the decisions of the Extraordinary Summit of 24th February, 2024.

“In addition, the Authority directs the Commission to develop a forward-looking contingency plan for its consideration regarding all eventualities in relations with the AES countries, considering the exigencies of Article 91 of the 1993 ECOWAS Revised Treaty. Furthermore, the Authority instructs the Commission to support all ongoing mediation efforts to put an end to the tensions between the Republic of Benin and the Republic of Niger.

“The Authority designates H.E. Bassirou Diomaye Diakhar Faye, President of the Republic of Senegal as ECOWAS Facilitator in ECOWAS engagement with the AES (Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger) in collaboration with H.E. Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, President of the Togolese Republic. And H.E. General Umaro Sissoco Embaló, President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau has offered to support the engagement, especially with Burkina Faso,” it added.

The Authority said it condemns the continued detention and the lifting of the immunity of the former President of the Republic of Niger, H.E. Mohamed Bazoum and called for his unconditional release.

“To enhance consistency in the application of the provisions of the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the Authority calls for an enhanced cooperation and collaboration between the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council (MSC) and the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) to ensure synergy on decisions taken at the regional and continental levels,” the communique says.

The authority said in the view of the evolving regional and global political and security dynamics, it has directed the Commission to convene a Special Summit on the Future of Regional Integration in West Africa, considering the state of governance, peace and security and the regional integration project, and has instructed the Commission to facilitate deep reflection on the relationships between electoral processes, democracy, and development, and to undertake measures to scale up efforts to meet the goals of Vision 2050.

On Institutional Matters, the Authority said it has endorsed the conclusions of the 92nd Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers.

On the Community Parliament, the Authority ‘welcomes the election of Honourable Memounatou Ibrahima from the Togolese Republic as the first female President of the ECOWAS Parliament’.

On Community Levy performance: “The Authority expresses concern over the recurring issue of non-payment of Community Levy by Member States, which affects the performance of Community Institutions and programmes and urges Member States to honour their Community Levy obligations by ensuring that proceeds collected are remitted to the Commission without delay.

On International Cooperation, it says: “On the African Union Commission elections for statutory positions scheduled for February, 2025, the Authority endorsed the candidacy of Ambassador Bankole Adeoye for re-election as the sole male candidate for the region.” 

The Authority expressed its appreciation to the ECOWAS’ development partners for their continued support towards the attainment of ECOWAS’ objectives and interest shown in the development of the West African region.

On the proposal for a Special Summit on the future of the Community: the authority said after deliberation on the objective of the proposed ECOWAS Special Summit, which includes among others enhancement of the regional peace and security, good governance and constitutional order as well as deepening the regional integration process. The Authority directs the Commission to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Chair of the Council, to come up with the format and timeframe.

H.E. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was re-elected as the Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government for another one-year term.

This year’s summit was attended by the following Heads of State or duly mandated representatives: H.E. Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia; H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana; H.E. General Umaro Sissoco Embaló, President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau; H.E. Joseph Boakai, President of the Republic of Liberia; H.E. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; H.E. Bassirou Diomaye Diakhar Faye, President of the Republic of Senegal; H.E. Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

H.E. Tiémoko Meyliet Koné, Vice-President of the Republic of Côte d’lvoire. And H.E. Olushegun Adjadi Bakari, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Benin; H.E. Dr. Rui A. Figueiredo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cabo Verde; H.E. Prof. Robert Dussey, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and Togolese Abroad of the Togolese Republic.

H.E. Omar Alieu Touray, President of ECOWAS Commission; H.E. Abdoulaye Diop, President of the UEMOA Commission; H.E. Leonardo Santos Simão, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS). H.E. Amb. Bankole Adeoye, African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security attended the session.