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Togolese President Gnassingbe is new chairman of ECOWAS

By: BBC/Africanews

Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe has been named the new chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Liberia’s capital Monrovia.

He takes over the rotational role from Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who faced a tough task in her 12-month tenure.

This was announced at the 51st ECOWAS Summit of Heads of State held for the first time in Liberia on Sunday, June 4, 2017.

In attendance was the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu who congratulated the incoming chairperson and invited the West African leaders to the Africa-Israel summit to be held in Togo in October.

Faure Gnassingbe will face a less tedious task as chairperson compared to President Sirleaf who was faced with the electoral crisis in The Gambia.

President Gnassingbe will officially assume the role at the end of the Summit.

Meanwhile, the sub regional bloc has in principle approved Morocco’s membership application despite it being in North Africa, sources tell the BBC.

But Ecowas leaders meeting in Liberia said the implications of its membership still needed to be considered before Morocco could formally join.

The Moroccan King Mohammed VI was not at the summit because Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been invited.

Morocco’s application comes after it rejoined the African Union in January.

Morocco left the continental body in 1984 after it recognised the independence of Western Sahara.

Morocco regards Western Sahara as part of its historic territory and has spent much of the last three decades trying to strengthen ties with Europe at the expense of relations with Africa.

There has been no official confirmation of the decision to admit Morocco but highly placed Ecowas sources have confirmed it to the BBC.

Morocco, along with Tunisia which is seeking observer status with the organization and Mauritania, which wants to return to the body, will be invited to the next meeting of heads of state in Togo in December, the source said.

Ecowas is made up of 15 West African nations, none of which shares a border with Morocco.


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