President John Dramani Mahama has handed over the ECOWAS leadership baton to President Macky Sall of Senegal who was elected Chairman by the ECOWAS Authority of the Heads of States and Government.
President Mahama whose tenure of office has ended was elected Chairman of ECOWAS on February 17, 2013 at Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast.
Mr Sall, the 53 years old new ECOWAS Chairman assumed office in April 2, 2012 as the President of Senegal.
President Mahama handed over of the flag and gavel of the Authority of the Heads of States and Government to President Sall, noting that he had known him for a while as a young vibrant politician, well-spoken and avowed democrat.
He said during the crisis in Burkina Faso, he together with President Sall and President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria worked together late in the night to lay the foundation for the transitional government in that country.
He said President Sall “is a good man and that the sub-regional body would be safe in his hands, adding that ECOWAS would make great progress during his tenure as chairman”.
On the common external tariff and the successful negotiation of the European Partnership Agreement. President Mahama stated that he would be available to assist him during his tenure as Chairman and would give him the good counsel and cooperation he received while he was the Chairman of the Authority.
He enumerated some of the lead roles he played during his tenure as the ECOWAS leader including the Ebola crisis in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the crisis in Burkina Faso, issues of terrorism such as the Boko Haram and the crisis in northern Mali, the agreement
President Sall in his acceptance speech praised President Mahama for discharging his duty as ECOWAS Chairman with excellence.
He said very soon he would be knocking on his door for good counsel because of his vast experience over the period.
He expressed delight for the honour done him and also commended the leaders of the sub-regional body for the confidence they have repose in him.
President Sall also used the opportunity to pay tribute to the founding fathers of the sub-regional body.
He said for the past 40 years ECOWAS slowly but surely had managed to bring peace to troubled areas in the sub-region as well as ensuring economic integration.
He said some of the issues that would be on his agenda during his tenure would be peace and security and the fight against extremism and terrorism.
President Sall also expressed his willingness to work closely with the leaders of ECOWAS and asked for their support for the various peace processes.
In a related development the ECOWAS Authority of the Heads of States and Government praised President Jonathan for the determination he demonstrated during his tenure as the Head of State and for all the necessary reforms he undertook for the development of his country.
The tribute which was read by Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration on behalf of the sub-regional leaders also expressed gratitude to the out-going leader for his outstanding contribution to the integration process of West Africa and the preservation of peace and security in the region.
They focused on the qualities he demonstrated as Chairman of the Authority and Chairman of the regional contact group on Guinea Bissau and as co-mediator in the Malian crisis.
The group further praised him for his exemplary democratic behaviour expected of a statesman which contributed in a decisive way to the maintenance of peace that followed the publication of the results of the Presidential elections of March 28.
“We the Heads of States of the Economic Community of West African States hereby express our goodwill to President Jonathan for all his future undertakings at the end of his noble mission as the head of the country,” the statement added.