Ghana handed strategic ECOWAS positions

BY: Isaac Yeboah

Ghana at an ECOWAS summitGhana has been nominated to occupy the position of the Deputy Director General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing in West Africa (GIABA).

The Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS gave the enviable slot to Ghana following a request put forward by President John Dramani Mahama.

The sub-regional body has also given air services contract to the Ghana Air Force to provide air support in Mali.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo, made these known at the closing ceremony of the 43rd Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS in Abuja, Nigeria.

He again mentioned that the position for the Commissioner for Administration and Conferences for the ECOWAS Commission had been reserved for Ghana.

In an interview with journalists in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday, President Mahama said the nomination of Ghana to serve as the Deputy Director of GIABA was in recognition of the enviable steps taken by the country Ghana against money laundering.

He noted that Ghana was recently taken off the black list of countries which were not doing well in terms of fighting money laundering.

He said since then Ghana had developed some competence in terms of legislations and the work by the Financial Intelligence Centre against money laundering.

The President said occupying a top position in GIABA would intensify Ghana's efforts at intensifying surveillance against money laundering.

"And so I thought that having a Deputy Directorship of GIABA will be a way of strengthening our own action against money laundering in our country.

ECOWAS endorsed it, and so Ghana is going to propose a Deputy Director General of GIABA," he said.

GIABA is an institution of ECOWAS responsible for facilitating the adoption and implementation of Anti- Money laundering legislations and programmes.

‎About GIABA - About GIABA - ‎Mutual Evaluation - ‎Upcoming - ‎Recent President Mahama also shared his views on the developments in Mali and Guinea Bissau, which were the main focus of the summit.

On Mali, he said, so far the situation was favourable for the holding of election in that country this month.

For instance, he said, recently, two of the rebel factions had signed an agreement under the mediation of President Blaise Compaore to allow elections to take place in all the regions that they controlled.

Besides, President Mahama said the transition from African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) into a UN-led mission was taking place, and indicated that the UN had just appointed a new force commander.

"So the expectation is that elections will take place in all of Mali's territories.

We believe that when the elections take place, they will create the platform for Mali to reintroduce a constitutional government and a democratic culture" he said.

Touching on Ghana's support, President Mahama said Ghana originally committed a 120-man strong company of engineers.

The 120 engineers were engaged only in logistical arrangements, which involved the construction of roads and bridges and other engineering components of the operation.

The President said the air services contract given to the Ghana Air Force, indicated that Ghana would play a significant role in the new UN-led mission in Mali.

On Guinea Bissau, President Mahama said the country was doing well, and expressed the hope that elections would be held in that country by the end of this year.

"When the elections are held, it will bring Guinea Bissau back to a normal environment and create a constitutional platform for going forward,'' he said.

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

President Mahama said the attainment of the common external tariff was the first step towards creating a common market and a free trade zone.

"So if we take that step early, it will allow us to take the following steps towards creating a common market in the West African region," he said.

Besides, he said, countries in sub-region needed a common external tariff before they could enter into the negotiation with the European Union for the Economic Partnership Agreements.

"That was the low point of the summit. We had expected that at long last, we were going to agree and adopt a common external tariff, but unfortunately at the last minute, Nigeria expressed some reservation. So we have to do some more homework to see how to come to that agreement," he said.

By Musah Yahaya Jafaru, ABUJA, NIGERIA