Thursday, June 20, 2013 05:12
ECOWAS To Harmonize Budgetary Policy
The Heads of State and Governments Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have committed themselves to pursue efforts aimed at harmonizing budgetary and fiscal policies among Member States in order to ensure greater macroeconomic convergence.
The organizational body in the sub-region reached this decision among several recommendations at the 41st Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government when it convened in the Ivorian political capital, Yamoussoukro, from June 28-29, 2012.
The Heads of State and Governments also welcomed the region's positive economic growth of 6.4 percent in 2011 and the bright prospects for 2012 and reiterated their determination to remove so as to effectively implement the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Goods and the Right of Establishment.
The Heads of State and Government also instructed the Commission to step up the establishment of the Common External Tariff (CET) and to take all necessary measures to ensure the finalization of the Community investments code and the implementation of the common industrial policy in order to consolidate the common market and reinvigorate the Community development policies.
On the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the Heads of State and Government repeated their commitment to the swift conclusion of a development-oriented Partnership Agreement. Concerned by the different trade regimes and the challenges posed by the ratification of interim agreements by Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana to the integration process in the event a Regional Agreement is not concluded, the Heads of State and Government underscored the need to find solutions to the main remaining disagreements.
They therefore urged the chief negotiators of the two parties to endeavor, in a consensual manner and with the required flexibility, to find ways and means of signing, as soon as possible, an EPA that safeguards the interests of both parties. They further insisted on the need for adequate resources to finance the EPA Program for Development.
On Regional Peace and Security, the Heads of State and Government expressed concern over the atmosphere of tension that generally surrounds the preparation and conduct of elections, and electoral reform processes, across the region and directed the Commission to undertake timely fact-finding missions to Member States to facilitate the peaceful resolution of election-related tensions.
The Authority expressed concern at the upsurge in terrorism in the Sahel region and in Nigeria. It further stated its deep worry with the volatile security situation in the Gulf of Guinea caused by piracy, robbery at sea, dumping, environmental degradation, as well as drugs, humans, and weapons trafficking. They underscored the devastating impact of these criminal acts on regional and international peace and security, and reaffirmed their determination to confront these scourges through the appropriate measures.
On the situation in Mali, the Summit strongly condemned attempts by certain extreme political and social forces in Mali to obstruct the smooth execution of the ongoing political transition, in particular the violent mob-attack on the Interim President on May 21; the campaign to impede the deployment of ECOWAS troops and to impose leaders; as well as the incitement to disobedience and violence by sections of the military, political class and the partisan media. It encouraged the Transitional Authority to speedily conclude the investigations into the mob-attack on the Interim President and submit its report to ECOWAS for the appropriate action.
The Summit instructed the Commission to facilitate the speedy return of the Interim President to Mali to resume his functions. It reaffirmed all its previous decisions on Mali and directed the Commission to facilitate their full implementation. Consequently, while upholding its commitment to a peaceful settlement of the rebellion, the Heads of State and Governments reiterated their determination not to compromise regarding the territorial integrity of Mali nor negotiate with terrorist organizations. They reaffirmed their resolve to assist Mali in re-establishing state authority over the entire country.
In that regard, they decided to fast-track the deployment of the ECOWAS Standby Force Mission in Mali (MICEMA) under the mandate already adopted, and in line with Article 25 of the Protocol relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security. To this end, the Heads of State and Government decided to immediately dispatch a Technical Assessment Mission to Mali to liaise with the Transitional Authority, with a view to preparing the ground for the imminent arrival of MICEMA. The Summit directed the Commission to take all necessary measures to implement its directive.
On the situation in Guinea Bissau, the Heads of State and Government endorsed the transitional organs established with its support, and called on the international community to recognize and support the Transitional Government. The Summit decided to suspend the general sanctions imposed on Guinea Bissau, while maintaining the country under close watch in order to ensure the definitive return to constitutional normality. It urged all the political actors and civil society to work together to achieve a truly inclusive government in order to ensure a consensual transition.
On Other Security Concerns, the Summit welcomed the ongoing initiatives between ECOWAS, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) to hold a Joint Regional Summit on Maritime Security in 2012. The leaders looked forward to the adoption of a common strategy in conformity with UN Security Council Resolution 2039 on Piracy, Robbery at Sea and other threats to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, with the facilitation of the UN Offices in Central and West Africa (UNOCA and UNOWA). They encouraged Member States to actively engage in the process.