ECOWAS Communique: AU, others urged to lift Guinea Bissau sanctions

BY: Isaac Yeboah

Kadre Desire OuedraogoThe Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS has called on the African Union (AU) and the international community to lift sanctions on Guinea Bissau since the country has made significant progress in its reconciliation and democratic progress.

The sub-regional leaders said the lifting of the sanctions on Guinea Bissau would ease the pressure on the people and allow them to carry through with the transitional process and the holding of elections.

This was part of the recommendations contained in a communiqué' issued at the end of the 43rd  Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday.

The two-day summit focused on the roadmap for sustaining peace and restoring constitutional order to Mali and Guinea Bissau.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Kadre' Desire Ouedraogo, who read the communiqué, said the sub-regional leaders were pleased with the progress made in Guinea Bissau.
The communiqué noted that all the stakeholders in Guinea were part of the transitional government.

Besides, it said, the processes for the holding of elections in Guinea Bissau by the end of the year were on course.

On Mali, the communiqué said the leaders were impressed with the efforts put up by member countries as well as France and other countries to restore peace and order in that country.

It said the leaders were particularly pleased with the commitment of the leadership in Mali to the scheduled election in July, 2013.

The leaders expressed appreciation to the United Nations for taking over the mission in Mali. They again commended the mediation role of Presidents Blaise Compaore and Goodluck Jonathan in Mali.

The communiqué said the leaders expressed satisfaction at the economic performance of the member countries, with the average growth of seven per cent.

They called for the soliciting of efficient financial arrangements for the Abidjan-Lagos highway.

The communiqué said the sub-regional leaders could not reach an agreement on the common external tariffs because Nigeria had some reservations.

They have, therefore, scheduled to hold an Extraordinary ECOWAS meeting in Dakar in October, 2013, to reach a consensus on the areas of disagreement.

In his closing remarks, the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, Mr Alassane Ouattara, said the leaders had identified the needed to make sacrifices to achieve their noble objectives.

For instance, he said, it was only when markets in the sub-region were strengthened that they could attract the needed economic deals with their development partners.

President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire stressed the need for the international community to lift the sanctions on Guinea Bissau to facilitate the transition process in that country.

By Musah Yahaya Jafaru, Abuja, Nigeria