Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have encouraged member states affected by the closure of Nigerian land borders to continue consultations to reach a solution acceptable to all parties.
In a communique issued at the end of the ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit in Niger last Friday, the authority of heads of state chose the President of Burkina Faso, Mr Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who is the ECOWAS Champion for the free movement of people and goods, to lead working sessions between ministers in charge of Trade and Finance of Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Togo.
A tripartite meeting between Nigeria, Benin and Niger was also planned to find a solution to the border closure .
"These meetings will seek to deepen discussions on trade among member states in the sub-region," the communique added.
Even though the Niger Summit focused mainly on the political crisis in Guinea Bissau, but the heads of state also took time to discuss the situation of the closure of the Nigerian borders.
"The authority was briefed on the border closure between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Benin on one hand, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Niger on the other hand, " the communique said.
It further stated that the summit noted ongoing actions being taken by the ECOWAS Commission with the deployment of a task force on the free movement of goods and persons.
"The heads of state encouraged the affected member states to continue consultations in order to reach a consensual solution," it stated.
Guinea Bissau situation
On the political situation in Guinea Bissau, the heads of state expressed regrets about the political and institutional crisis that had brought about the threat of war in the country.
They, however, took note of a report of a ministerial follow-up committee on the situation, which emerged from a mission sent to Bissau on November 3, 2019.
“The authority expressed satisfaction at the quality of the report and memorandum presented and the relevance of the recommendations made,” the communique added.
It recalled the successful legislation election of March 10, 2019, and the nomination of Prime Minister Aristides Gomes, and condemned the decision by President Jose Mario Vas to dismiss the Prime Minister and appoint a new one.
“To this end, the authority demands the immediate resignation of the Prime Minister appointed on October 29, 2019, and his entire government, failing which individual sanctions will apply, “ the communique further stated.
The ECOWAS leaders also noted the progress made in the preparation of the presidential election in that country.
Specifically, the communique mentioned the consensual decision by all stakeholders to use the voters register issued for the legislative elections of March 10, 2019; the finalisation of the list of candidates for the presidential election by the Supreme Court; the decision of ECOWAS to provide support for the electoral process through the disbursement of $1.5 million, and the decision to deploy ECOWAS electoral observers.
The authority had also decided to strengthen the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau (ECOMIB), to position it to respond to all challenges before, during and after the elections.
This would include increase in troop numbers and possible reinforcement of its mandate.