REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY DR. GEORGE MANNEH WEAH
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA AT THE VIRTUAL MEETING OF THE EXTRAORDINARY SESSION OF THE ECOWAS HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT
FEBRUARY 2, 2021
Your Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
President of the Republic of Ghana
and Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government;
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government;
Mr. President of the ECOWAS Commission and Other Officials of ECOWAS Institutions;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership in steering the affairs of our regional community. The issues that you have put before us today for consideration are indeed important to the continued success of ECOWAS and the African Union.
One of the enduring principles of our organization is to build consensus on all matters, even those that are sometimes complex and challenging.
After all, has been said and done, we should always come out of our deliberations more united and stronger. Let us not lose sight of this time-honored principle in negotiation and managing differences in our opinions. For in unity; there is a success. And we are strong when we lift each other up.
In this context, please permit me, Mr. Chairman to make a few suggestions on the way forward regarding the matters before us.
Mr. Chairman and Excellencies, regarding the Chairmanship of the African Union, I would like to suggest that we remain mindful of the enduring values of our African unity, and our customary reliance on sound reasoning, accommodation, and compromise, to arrive at a practical and equitable consensus.
As we are aware, there are two countries which have expressed interest in the Chairmanship. As the leader of one of those countries is already ably pre-occupied with the burden and responsibility of serving as Chairman of this august body, I believe that consideration should be given to the other country to have an opportunity to lead the Continental Body at this time. I believe that this would provide the opportunity for enhanced cooperation and seamless coordination between the two organizations.
My further suggestion in this regard is that in terms of our succession planning for presenting candidates for the top leadership of the AU from within our Region in the future, we should consider doing this on a rotational or alternating basis between Francophone and Anglophone countries.
Today, we also have to choose between the option of selecting the post of Deputy Chairperson for the AU or opting for the positions of two sectoral Commissioners, one for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, and the other for Health, Humanitarian Affairs, and Social Development. In so doing, I suggest that we be mindful of the political realism of factors that represent significant threats to the political and social stability of our region.
As we are all aware, regional peace and security, conflict prevention and management, peacebuilding, democracy, and good governance are some of the major factors for achieving political stability in our region.
Unfortunately, the recent significant rise of terrorism, insurgencies, and maritime insecurity are existential threats to the economic development and peace of our Member States. This implies that we should, at this juncture, place greater priority on issues of peace, security, and political affairs.
In so doing, we must bear in mind that significant capacity and resources will be needed to support peace and security operations.
Although the AU has made significant strides in its efforts at achieving peace and security on the continent as a whole, many of its Member States are still affected by terrorism and insurgencies, for example in Northeast and Central Africa and also in West Africa; including the Lake Chad Basin.
Liberia would like to recommend, therefore, that the post of Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security be prioritized at this time to address the threat of terrorism, the menace of insurgency, and the increasing level of maritime instability in our region; the Gulf of Guinea being a case in point.
And that we should lend our support to the candidate from Nigeria, a Member State that has demonstrated many times, over many years, its commitment, capacity, and steadfast support to the cause of peace and the defense of freedom in our Region.
On the reform of ECOWAS Institutions, Liberia believes that the principle of equity and fairness in the distribution of ECOWAS posts should be sustained; consistent with the appropriate recommendations of the recent reform process, and the relevant Protocols of ECOWAS; including Decisions taken by the Authority.
In so doing, the distribution of posts should adhere to the recommendations made during the reform process, to promote transparency, accountability, efficiency, and gender equality in the selection of the best candidates that can provide value for money in our institutions.
Mr. Chairman and Excellencies, these are just a few points I wanted to bring to your attention for your kind and timely consideration.
Liberia remains open and committed to the time-honored principle of solidarity in reaching consensus on all matters considered for the benefit of ECOWAS and Africa.
I thank you.