The Liberian leader, following her election, immediately set out key priorities aimed at peace consolidation, security architecture, conclusion of negotiations and legal actions, the transformation of Vision 2020 and the improvement in financial stability.
According to the Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf’s election as Chairperson of the regional body comes on the heels of multifaceted challenges facing the Community ranging from terrorism, global economic meltdown, coupled with the recent Ebola outbreak.
In her acceptance speech, she described her selection as an indication of the progress and peace Liberia enjoys, which would not have been possible without the tremendous sacrifices and solidarity of “our brothers and sisters of ECOWAS”.
She commended her Senegalese counterpart, President Macky Sall, whose extraordinary leadership guided the work of ECOWAS in the past year. President Sirleaf also paid glowing tribute to Dr. Kadre Désiré Ouadraogo for the able manner in which he managed the affairs of the Community as President of the ECOWAS Commission. She also congratulated Dr. Ouadraogo’s successor, His Excellency Marcel Alain de Souza, and team as they assume their responsibilities.
The Liberian Chief Executive historicized the 48th Summit of the Authority held in Abuja, marking the 40th Anniversary of ECOWAS, specifically noting the achievements made during the last four decades across all sectors – including the harmonization of macroeconomic policies, trade integration, regional infrastructure, peace and security, regional institution development, democracy and rule of law.
“As we move towards the achievement of such lofty goal, we are reminded that our Community faces both challenges and opportunities; such as the sharp reduction in commodity prices and the effect of epidemiological outbreaks have resulted in a decline in investment and growth, Sirleaf said.
Beyond financial difficulties, she indicated that growth is affected by terrorism, drug and human trafficking, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the impact of climate change.
She said it was important to take pride in the high potential of ECOWAS for a vibrant integrated market which is currently estimated at the equivalent of US$1.3 trillion produced by a wide range of activities in agriculture, commerce, industry and services.
As President Sirleaf jump-starts her new post as Chairperson of the Authority, she laid out the consolidation of the regional body’s peace and security architecture, as guided by the Mechanism and other Protocols, and the need to work even harder as member states to stem terrorism, strengthen intelligence capacity and enhance coordination with the African Union, the United Nations and other partner institutions.