Friday, March 28, 2014

Ghana's Mahama, Liberia's Johnson Sirleaf and Gambia's Jammeh in the running for the Chairmanship of ECOWAS

Ouatarra flanked by ECOWAS Commission President and  Compaore
The 44th Summit of ECOWAS opened this morning in the political capital of Cote d'Ivoire of Yamoussoukro chaired by the President of Cote d'Iviore and outgoing Chairman of ECOWAS, Alassane Dramae Ouatarra who has served in that capacity for two consecutive terms.

The Summit will elect a new Chairman tomorrow to close the two-day Summit which is attended by 14 of the 15 Heads of State.  The only one missing is Faure Gnissingbe of Togo.  The reason for his absence was not stated publicly.

Whereas the center of attention is centered on the election of a new Chairman which can be contentious at times because of the likes of Yaya Jammeh, there are very important issues on the agenda.  The crises in both Mali and Guinea-Bissau.

In his opening statement as out-going Chairman referred to the "international respect" gained by ECOWAS and its widely-acclaimed role in successfully managing the crises in Mali which led to the election of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as its President.  In Guinea-Bissau, "we are", Mr. Ouatarra said, "in the process of re-establishing constitutional order with presidential elections slated to take place in two weeks time."

The Cote d'Ivoire President also highlighted progress made and the main features of the negotiations between the regional organization and the European Union.

Of course, the elections of Ouatarra's successor is a major preoccupation of the delegates at the Summit. A source revealed to us that in addition to Jammeh who has been a perennial candidate for the post, Ghana's Mahama is considered a very strong candidate.  Another name that has surfaced in the corridors of the Summit venue is Liberia's First and Africa's Second Female President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

When her name emerged as a contender, we remarked that Jammeh is toast.  If he had any illusions of being the next Chairman despite the eight reasons we advanced as to why he will never lead ECOWAS, they should have faded some what with these two strong and highly respected Anglophone candidates.

The female candidate is not only qualified in her own right - without reference to her gender - her election to the post would be a fitting tribute to the two-term President of Liberia, an investment banker and former Director of the UNDP's Regional Bureau for Africa.  What a way to cap a carrier of someone who is on her final term as President of a country that is slowly emerging from a civil war had destroyed many lives, ravaged the economic infrastructure and sent hundreds of thousands, if not millions of its citizens into exile.

We hope she's elected the next Chairman of ECOWAS.  Mahama will have his turn, assuming Ghanaians will reelect him their President.  As for Yaya Jammeh, he should take his cue from Ouatarra's opening remarks about the hard-earned "international respect" enjoyed by the regional organization, and refrain from further embarrassing himself by insisting on throwing his hat into the ring, year after year with no success. It doesn't seem that he's good at taking a hint either.