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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
13 January 2006

WEST AFRICA: Tandja wins new ECOWAS mandate

NIAMEY, 13 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - President Mamadou Tandja of Niger has been re-elected chairman of the West African regional group ECOWAS at a summit where leaders pledged strides in bolstering peace across the world’s poorest region.

“To further consolidate peace and stability, priority will need to be placed on promoting democracy and good governance,” Tandja said at Thursday’s close of the summit of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States.

Peace-sealing elections in 2005 in Liberia and Guinea-Bissau have brought new hope to one of the world’s most troubled regions, Tandja said.

“This should help us to commit to development.”

In a closing statement ECOWAS leaders called on the international community to help the group meet post-conflict challenges, especially in Liberia and Guinea-Bissau, “for the reconstruction, rehabilitation and launch of programmes enabling sustainable development and job creation.”

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the African Union, said ECOWAS would continue to play a strong role in regional peace efforts, in particular in Cote d’Ivoire where newly appointed Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny has been tasked with overseeing disarmament and organising elections by next October.

ECOWAS, created in 1975 and headquartered in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, comprises eight French-speaking countries, five English-speaking, and two Portuguese-speaking.

With its 250 million people deemed the world’s most impoverished, Tandja urged G-8 nations to extend to the entire region debt relief promises already made to six ECOWAS states.

Leaders also discussed progress in setting up a 6,500-strong military standby force, due to begin training this year, and the launch of a regional airline.

Ghana’s Mohamed Ibn Chambas was also re-appointed ECOWAS Executive Secretary for a second four-year term.



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