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General News of Monday, 13 November 2006

Source: GNA

Second ECOWAS Parliament inaugurated

From Benjamin Mensah, GNA Special Correspondent, Abuja

Abuja, Nov. 13, GNA - Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Executive Secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Monday said the Sub-Region was on rebound with tremendous opportunities despite the daunting challenges of unbalanced development and pervasive poverty.

Addressing the opening of the nine-day inaugural session of the Second ECOWAS Parliament at its headquarters in Abuja, Dr Chambas observed that a new crop of Leaders had emerged in West Africa, determined to build a culture of democracy, transparency and accountability to achieve sustainable development.

He said: "We are experiencing considerable success in bringing down conflicts and instability by addressing the root causes of conflict such as bad governance, impunity, marginalization, zero tolerance for coup d'etats and ensuring credible, free and fair elections." The 108-member Chamber featuring 14 ECOWAS countries is to elect a new Speaker; members of the Conference of Bureaus; members of the Standing Committee; adopt new Rules of Procedure of Parliament and adopt the 2007 Budget of the Community Parliament.

Dr Chambas said regional programmes had been fashioned to help to increase the fight against poverty to attain the Millennium Development Goals even though their achievement was fraught with initial difficulties.

He said there was also renewed interest in partnership based on mutual accountability to deal with problems of development involving all stakeholders both at the domestic and foreign fronts. Dr Chambas announced that the Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS had adopted a decision, which prescribed the modalities and procedures to be followed by all institutions of the Community in order to benefit from the advisory and consultative status of the Parliament. "The Decision will no doubt increase the opportunities for frequent interaction between the Parliament and other institutions of the Community and will ensure that the institutions would receive optimal benefit from such interaction and input or advice of this august body," Dr Chambas said.

Mr Ken Nnamani, President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, observed that one of the most pressing challenges in the Leadership in the West Africa Sub-Region was creating a huge market that could cater for its economic development.

He said the level of intra-regional trade, which was estimated at below five per cent, far below that 70 per cent between European countries and 50 per cent for Asian countries, had to be addressed before the objective of economic development could be achieved. Mr Nnamani called for an enlarged intra-regional trade as mover of greater technological innovation and higher productivity and called on Parliamentarians to fashion out laws that would enhance the attainment of a common market such as laws for free migration and emigration. Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu, Majority Chief Whip in Ghana's Parliament and MP for Suame, who is leading Ghana's eight member delegation, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that proceedings of the ECOWAS Parliament, which holds two sessions in a year, would be gazetted at home with the aim of improving governance.

Mr Mamadou Lamarana Diallo, the oldest member of the ECOWAS Parliament, who chaired the opening ceremony, swore in the Members of the new Parliament. 13 Nov. 06