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General News Mon, 9 Jan 2006

Nana Akufo-Addo leaves for ECOWAS Summit

Accra, Jan. 9, GNA - The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo left Accra on Monday for Niamey, Niger, at the head of a five-member delegation to attend the ministerial meeting of foreign ministers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The foreign ministers' meeting is in preparation for the 29th Summit of the Authority of Heads of State of ECOWAS that would take place in Niger on January 12.

A statement issued in Accra by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Nana Akufo-Addo would represent President John Agyekum Kufuor and lead Ghana's delegation to the Summit.

ECOWAS asks Ivorian parties to build on progress

Niger, Jan. 9, GNA - A meeting of West African Foreign Ministers opened in the Nigerien capital, Niamey on Monday with a call on parties in the Ivorian crisis to remain sincere towards an accelerated peace, following the election of a new Premier and a new Cabinet to hold elections as planned.

"The challenge is Herculean, but nonetheless surmountable. With our collective resolve and cooperation of the parties involved, the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire shall be history," ECOWAS Executive Secretary Mohamed Ibn

Chambas told the meeting in which the Foreign Ministers are expected to review political developments in the Sub-Region. The Foreign Ministers including Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo from Ghana are also expected to set the agenda for the 29th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government to be held on Thursday. Dr Chambas applauded the successful holding of the first post-war elections in Liberia, saying out of the ruins of several years of war, the country made history by being the first to elect a first woman president in Africa.

However, in a post-election Liberia, the challenge of national reconciliation and reconstruction was enormous, he said, and called for collective support for that country.

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He also reported on the political situation in Sierra Leone, Togo, Guinea and Guinea Bissau, saying remarkable progress had been made in promoting peace, democracy and good governance in those countries, as well.

"Sierra Leone still needs tremendous international assistance to rebuild its infrastructure and provide public services." Dr Chambas mentioned the problem of corruption and the enthronement of the rule of law as challenges the Sub-Region had to overcome to achieve its goals.

Efforts at establishing a 6,500 strong ECOWAS standby force are in progress, he said, adding that a support base had already been secured in Freetown for the Force.

An Electoral Assistance Unit is being established to facilitate not only election monitoring in member States but also to handle issues of training and capacity development and information flow on electoral matters in West Africa.

He, however, expressed regret that the goal of creating a borderless Sub-Region for the free movement of people, goods and services, was being hampered by delays by member countries in the issuing of ECOWAS Passports.

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As at December 31, 2005, the agreed deadline for the issuing of the ECOWAS Passport, only three countries - Benin, Senegal and Guinea had done so. Madam Aichatou Mindaoudou, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and African Integration of Niger, asked for the collective support for the legal and constitutional process in Togo.

Madam Mindaoudou, who currently chairs the ECOWAS group of Foreign Ministers, said the regional grouping's determination and commitment in the Cote d'Ivoire remained "unshakable" and that the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration programme in that country was a challenge that could be met.

At the meeting were heads and representatives of the international community engaged in the various peace efforts in the Sub-Region.

Source: GNA