West African leaders in Nigeria to discuss Morocco’s membership

(From L) Sierra Leon’s President Ernest Bai Koroma, President of ECOWAS official Marcel Alain de Souza, Liberian President and Ecowas Chairperson Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (R) and Guinean President Alpha Conde (C) pose during the 50th summit of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, on December 17, 2016. West African leaders called today for a swift resolution of the political impasse in The Gambia after disputed elections in which long-term president Yahya Jammeh is refusing to concede defeat. The appeal came at the 50th summit of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Nigeria, attended by 11 heads of state but without the leaders of four members including The Gambia. PHOTO: Pius Utomi EKPEI / AFP

The 52nd Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Heads of State and Government summit opened in Abuja, capital of Nigeria on Saturday as leaders discuss Morocco’s membership of the bloc and the security situation in Guinea Bissau.

Morocco had made its request to be a member of ECOWAS while Tunisia requested to be an observer country.

The 51st Ordinary Session held in Monrovia, Liberia in June agreed in principle to Morocco’s membership of the sub-regional bloc and directed the commission to consider the implications of the country’s membership.

The commission confirmed that study on the impact of Morocco’s membership was carried out and the outcome would be submitted to the Authority.

Morocco was, however, not invited for the 52nd summit. Its Foreign Ministry reportedly said the country had to wait until the first quarter of 2018 to know the decision of the ECOWAS Heads of State which would be announced at an extraordinary session.

Tunisia has, however, been granted an observer status by the authority and the commission has been further directed to take necessary measures to ensure all procedures relating to an observer status are implemented.

The commission also confirmed that the authority called on Mauritania to submit its request for readmission to ECOWAS.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Abdel Aziz and Tunisian President Beji Essebsi are scheduled to make presentations as special guests at the opening session of the summit.

The summit would also discuss the political and security situation in Guinea Bissau.

The ECOWAS recently said its mission in Guinea Bissau had taken an “excruciating toll” on the financial resources of the sub-region.

The ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau, ECOMIB, made up of troops from Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo and Niger was deployed in May 2012 following a military coup in April 2012.

ECOMIB helped to establish a civilian-led transitional government, which ended with the election of President Jose Vaz in a run-off in May 2014 for a five-year term.