Accra, Jan. 19, GNA - Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Executive Secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Wednesday stressed the need to develop a culture of dialogue, tolerance and good neighbourliness among member countries.
He said: "We in West Africa are learning difficult lessons about nurturing peace and stability within our national borders. Our recent regional experiences are teaching us the urgent need to develop a culture of dialogue, tolerance and good neighbourliness." Dr Chambas made the call when addressing the Opening Session of the 28th Ordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in Accra.
Among the agenda for the Summit is the election of a new Chairman for the 15-member Sub-Regional body to succeed Ghana's President John Agyekum Kufuor, who has served two terms.
Other items on the agenda are a review of the security situation in the West African Sub-Region and the current status of the implementation of key ECOWAS Protocols.
Reports of the Technical Committee meeting of the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA), the Committee of Central Bank Governors on WAMA and the Convergence Council on the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) would also be presented to the Summit.
Dr Chambas said to ensure conducive atmosphere to make progress within the Sub-Region and human security, ECOWAS and its member countries must continue to foster greater peace and security. He said peace and stability was desirable and without it economic performance could not improve or even be sustained.
The Executive Secretary said the vision of the Founding Fathers of ECOWAS about 30 years ago was still valid and even more urgent than ever before in their desire to create a borderless West Africa in which people could move about freely.
Others were the desire to develop the enormous resources of the Sub-Region, create and exploit business opportunities, trade and economic growth, create stable, peaceful and democratic conditions in West Africa.
Dr Chambas commended the outgoing Chairman of ECOWAS, President Kufuor for his immense contribution to the peace and prosperity of the Sub-Region.
"During the entire two-year period of his tenure, President Kufuor has given freely of his time, energy and resources in the service of West African integration.
"He deployed his exemplary leadership qualities at every turn to involve his peers in the different vital regional issues that ECOWAS has had to deal with", he said.
Dr Chambas said by such cooperation among the leaders, the world had ample proof of the regional solidarity and high political leadership that the ECOWAS Community enjoyed, adding: "West Africa has earned an enviable place for itself in matters of regional cooperation and integration."
Nine Heads of State and Government of the Authority attended the Summit.
They were, President Yahaya A.J. Jammeh of The Gambia, President Henrique Pereira Rosa of Guinea-Bissau and the African Union (AU) Chairman, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria.
The others were President Mathieu Kerekou of Benin; President Mamadou Tandja of Niger, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d'Ivoire; President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso and the host, President Kufuor. Other representatives were Mr Charles Gyude Bryant, Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL); Mr Solomon Berewa, Vice President of Sierra Leone; Mr Kofi Sama, Prime Minister of Togo.