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General News Fri, 29 Jun 2007

Ghana asked to issue ECOWAS passport

Accra, June 29, GNA - Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, President of the ECOWAS Commission, on Thursday appealed to Ghana to speed up the implementation of the common passport regime for member states, saying it was a key factor to bolstering the integration process. He said Ghana, one of the lead countries in the integration process, had till date not joined countries issuing the common passport needed for free movement within the sub-region.

"Six countries within the sub-region, namely Senegal, Nigeria, Niger, Benin Guinea and Liberia, have started issuing the common passport and we urge other countries to join to give meaning to the integration," he told the GNA in an interview at the ongoing Executive Council meeting of the African Union in Accra.

He was contributing to the need for a common passport for citizens if Africa was to unite under a common government. Dr Chambas said ECOWAS countries could not be left out in the globalization process, which meant free movement of persons across borders without hindrance.

Security issues should not be the hindrance for integration, he said, adding that those involved in criminal activities were a minute or insignificant proportion of the population of the ECOWAS sub-region. He said the ECOWAS passport had enhanced security features with an embedded chip, bearing the identity of the bearer. He added that if accepted by all the member states, criminals would be easily wiped out though the co-ordination of security forces at the borders. He said corrupt practices by personnel manning the borders would be one of the drawbacks to the smooth implementation of the ECOWAS passport.

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Dr Chambas said the Commission had set up a monitoring team along the Abidjan-Lagos corridor to identify corrupt practices and advice on how to curb it to enhance the free movement of people who were out to do genuine business.

"We should all be involved in working to remove all the unnecessary road blocks," he said, and called on countries that had still not joined the regime for the issuance of a common ECOWAS passport to do so. Dr. Chambas also called on member states to address the economic and social needs of the various institutions set up to enhance the integration process.

"Setting up institutions, without the requisite manpower and resources to work, cannot produce progress," he said, adding that what was needed was a functional Commission that would see to the implementation of the process to achieve the set mandate. 29 June 07

Source: GNA
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