Category Archives: World

SA probes ‘giant corruption’ against Zuma, son faces prosecution

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President Jacob Zuma has been under pressure

South Africa’s parliament is today beginning an inquiry into alleged corruption at the highest levels of government.

Whistleblowers and prominent officials are expected to be called to give evidence into what’s become known as “state capture”.

It could be an uncomfortable few days for some powerful people in South Africa.

Ministers, tycoons, the president’s son, and many other witnesses are likely to be summoned and, if they show up, grilled by MPs investigating claims of a giant corruption conspiracy.

It is widely alleged that a powerful business family, the Guptas, have bought influence at the highest levels of government in order to win lucrative state contracts.

The Guptas have denied such claims, as has their friend, President Jacob Zuma.

Some South Africans see a parliamentary inquiry as a poor substitute for police investigations, arrests, and trials.

But at a time of rising political tension over who will succeed President Zuma – this week’s probe is like to produce some fireworks.

Zuma fires critic from cabinet

Meanwhile the embattled Zuma has sacked a vocal critic of his from the government, as he tightens his grip on power.

South African Communist Party leader Blade Nzimande – who has condemned widespread corruption in government and has backed former trade unionist and business tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidential campaign – was removed as Higher Education Minister.

In another controversial change, Mr Zuma appointed the Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo, as the Minister of Energy.

Move to prosecute Zuma’s son

Also, South African lobby group Afriforum has announced plans to privately prosecute President Jacob Zuma’s son.

The group says it wants to prosecute Duduzane Zuma on manslaughter, or culpable homicide, charges emanating from a car crash in which a 27-year-old woman died in 2014.

The man who intends to spearhead Afriforum’s private prosecution is former state prosecutor General Nel who is most well-known for securing the murder conviction of former Olympic and Paralympian star Oscar Pistorius.

Phumzile Dube died when Duduzane Zuma’s car collided with the taxi in which she was travelling. Her two-year-old daughter survived.

An inquest found that Duduzane Zuma’s negligent conduct led to the crash but the National Prosecuting Authority declined to pursue charges against him, citing insufficient evidence.

Afriforum says it believes the deceased woman’s family deserves justice, no matter who the perpetrator is.
Duduzane Zuma has not yet commented.

Source BBC

Pan-African parliament in grip of existential crisis

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Some members of Africa’s parliament have questioned the powers of the Pan-African Parliament, which they say, have become more of a talking shop.

Since its creation in 2004, the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) has struggled to make its voice heard, prompting its deputies to ask themselves at a recent gathering: “What are we for?”

“Every time we’re here, we obsess over the same things. If we are not making laws, then what’s the point of being here?” Corneille Padonou of Benin said to his fellow parliamentarians.

“This forum is not a parliament, it is just a discussion platform that does not have any legislative powers. This institution is still wobbly,” said Floyd Shivambu, a parliamentarian from South Africa.

“As it is, it is a waste of resources.”

The PAP, which is headquartered in South Africa, currently has 229 parliamentarians from 51 countries appointed from among those nation’s own parliaments.

On paper, the assembly is the legislative branch of the African Union (AU). But in reality, it merely has consultative powers.

“Its role is essentially limited to making recommendations,” said the parliament’s Chadian deputy secretary general Gali Massa Harou.

The Malabo Protocol issued in 2014 was intended to be a game changer, giving the PAP sweeping legislative powers but the document was never adopted after receiving formal support from just five countries of the required 28.

‘What women want, God wants’

“We really don’t understand everyone here is happy for this (agreement) to be ratified” but nothing is happening, said Algerian delegate Mohamed Tayeb Laskri during the PAP’s most recent sitting in October.

“At this rate, it’s going to take us 20 years to sign the agreement,” warned Laskri’s Tanzanian colleague David Silinde to applause from his fellow parliamentarians.

Without any real power, the PAP has effectively become a smoking room for friends, according to Egyptian member Moustafa El Gindy.

The headquarters are in Midrand, an industrial town half way between Pretoria and Johannesburg, temporarily located beside a convention centre.

Even sat navs struggle to find it.

With an annual budget of $22 million (18.6 million euros), the PAP meets twice a year for sessions that require 60 interpreters.

Parliamentarians’ home countries cover the costs of flights, accommodation and food.

On the issue of getting the parliament’s law-making powers rubber stamped, one representative from Mali came up with a novel idea during the October session.

“If we had female deputies going to each of the countries, then we’d come back with agreements,” said a visibly pumped-up Mamedi Sidibe. “What women want, God wants.”

Wearing a black and gold robe, the parliament speaker, Cameroon’s Roger Nkodo Dang, made an impassioned plea to the assembled delegates. “Don’t blame anyone like this. I don’t think women would have different results.”

“It’s down to you, Mr Speaker, to take action to find a solution,” retorted another member.

That prompted a tart reply from the speaker who suggested “that it would be nice if you went to (lobby) in your own country”.

But the parliament faces an uphill struggle to secure the greater recognition and powers it craves.

No reason to be afraid

“(Countries) are fearful of losing their sovereignty and suffering interference from overseas,” said Egyptian parliament member Moustafa El Gindy, adding that the AU is three-quarters funded by international donors, including the European Union.

But the parliament’s speaker insists that the AU member states have no reason to be afraid.

“There are a lot of policies that the PAP can legislate on (like terrorism and climate change) without infringing on the areas reserved for the states themselves,” he told AFP.

But without the power to take concrete action, the parliament is doomed to continue as a talking shop.

One parliamentarian called for an end to economic migration, another praised the recent move by the United States to lift sanctions on Sudan, while the speaker accused the International Criminal Court of only prosecuting blacks.

As a result of its toothlessness, the parliament has suffered from a lack of recognition and struggled to raise awareness, both among the people of Africa and further afield.

Member countries even refuse to recognise the Pan-African passports issued to the parliamentarians a major gripe on the floor of the chamber.

Nkodo Dang, the speaker, is also highly critical of the AU leadership in Addis Ababa itself, saying only one AU commission chief, Jean Ping, “took the time to speak to the parliament”.


Liberia election: Weah and Boakai headed for presidential run-off

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George Weah (L) and Joseph Boakai will go head-to-head in a presidential run-off

Former football star George Weah and Vice-President Joseph Boakai are headed for a run-off in Liberia’s presidential election.

Nearly all the results from Tuesday’s poll have been counted, the election commission says.

Mr Weah, the first African to win the Ballon D’Or football award, is leading with 39%, while Mr Boakai is in second place with 29%.

A second round between the pair is expected next month.

They lead the field of 20 candidates who competed to succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female elected president and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Fewer than 5% of polling stations have yet to declare results, and lawyer Charles Brumskine is in third place with 9.8%.

Both Mr Weah and Mr Boakai had predicted they would win the first round of voting.

Mr Weah’s former manager on the football field, Arsene Wenger, was earlier this week apparently duped by false reports that he had already been elected president.

He told reporters: “It’s not often you have a former player who becomes president of a country. So well done, Georgie.”

Meet the frontrunners

George Weah, 51:

  • Former Fifa World Footballer of the Year
  • Arsene Wenger, now at Arsenal, was his coach at Monaco in the 1990s
  • Has the political backing of jailed warlord and former president Charles Taylor
  • Taylor’s ex-wife, Jewel Howard Taylor, is his running mate

Joseph Boakai, 73:

  • Nicknamed “Sleepy Joe”
  • Denies it is because he is often caught napping at public events, says it is because he is a dreamer
  • Vice-president under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf since 2005
  • Has distanced himself from her record, saying “a lot more needs to be achieved”

Liberia, which was founded by freed US slaves in the 19th Century, has not had a smooth transfer of power in 73 years.

Ms Sirleaf took office in 2006, after her predecessor, Charles Taylor, was forced out of office by rebels in 2003, ending a long civil war.

Taylor is currently serving a 50-year prison sentence in the UK for war crimes related to the conflict in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Mr Weah, 51, has chosen Taylor’s ex-wife Jewel Howard Taylor as his running mate.

Source: BBC

Somalia: At least 230 dead in Mogadishu blast

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A massive bomb attack in a busy area of the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday is now known to have killed at least 230 people, police say.

Hundreds more were wounded when a lorry packed with explosives detonated near the entrance of a hotel.

It is the deadliest terror attack in Somalia since the Islamist al-Shabab group launched its insurgency in 2007.

President Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed blamed the attack on them, calling it a “heinous act”.

No group has yet said it was behind the bombing.

“Brothers, this cruel act was targeted at civilians who were going about their business,” the president said.

He has declared three days of mourning for the victims of the blast.

Local media reported families gathering in the area on Sunday morning, looking for missing loved ones amid the ruins of one of the largest bombs ever to strike the city.

Image shows civilians evacuating from the scene of an explosion in the Hodan district of Mogadishu, Somalia on 14 October 2017

There are fears people are trapped under the rubble Photo: REUTERS

Police official Ibrahim Mohamed told AFP news agency the death toll was likely to rise. “There are more than 300 wounded, some of them seriously,” he said.

Officials also confirmed that two people were killed in a second bomb attack in the Madina district of the city.

Mogadishu’s Mayor Thabit Abdi called for unity while addressing a crowd of people who had gathered to protest.

“Oh, people of Mogadishu, Mogadishu shouldn’t be a graveyard for burnt dead bodies,” he said.

“Mogadishu is a place of respect, and if we remain united like we are today, moving ahead, we will surely defeat the enemy, Allah willing.”

A BBC Somali reporter at the scene of the main blast said the Safari Hotel had collapsed, with people trapped under the rubble.

An eyewitness, local resident Muhidin Ali, told AFP it was “the biggest blast I have ever witnessed, it destroyed the whole area”.

Meanwhile, the director of the Madina Hospital, Mohamed Yusuf Hassan, said he was shocked by the scale of the attack.

“Seventy-two wounded people were admitted to the hospital and 25 of them are in very serious condition. Others lost their hands and legs at the scene.

“What happened yesterday was incredible, I have never seen such a thing before, and countless people lost their lives. Corpses were burned beyond recognition.”

women with megaphone and red headbands

Protesters gathered, wearing red headbands to show their anger at the blast Photo: AFP

The international community has been quick to condemn the attack:

  • African Union Commission’s president Moussa Faki Mahamat said the body would continue supporting Somalia in efforts “to achieve sustainable peace and security”
  • Turkey said it would send planes with medical supplies, and fly wounded people to Turkey for treatment
  • In a statement, the US Mission to Somalia called it “cowardly” and said it reinvigorated US commitments to help African countries fight terrorism
  • UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said his thoughts were with victims’ families and the government and people of Somalia. “Those responsible have shown no regard for human life or the suffering of the Somali people,” he continued
  • UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres tweeted that he was “sickened” by the attacks and urged “unity in the face of terrorism and violent extremism”
  • French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that France stands by Somalia’s side

Source: BBC | Ghana

Jacob Zuma must face corruption charges – court rules

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Zuma has battled for years to avoid going on trial for 783 counts of corruption

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma must face charges of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering, the Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled.

It agreed with a lower court ruling last year that prosecutors could bring back 783 counts of corruption relating to a 1999 arms deal.

The charges had been set aside eight years ago, enabling Mr Zuma to become president.

The president has always maintained his innocence.

In a statement, Mr Zuma’s office said the ruling was “disappointing”, but anticipated.

The president now expected South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to consider representations from his legal team before making a decision about whether to prosecute him, it added. The charges relate to Mr Zuma’s relationship with a businessman, Shabir Shaik, who was tried and found guilty in 2005 of soliciting bribes from a French arms company “for the benefit of Zuma”.

Mr Zuma and other government officials have been accused of taking kickbacks from the purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and other arms.

Charges were first brought against Mr Zuma in 2005 but dropped by prosecutors in 2009.

Last year, the High Court in the capital, Pretoria, ruled in a case brought by the opposition Democratic Alliance that he should face the charges.

Mr Zuma went on to lodge a challenge with the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Mr Zuma’s presidential term ends in 2019, when he will not be eligible to stand in another election having already served two terms in office.

His eventful presidency has seen him survive eight votes of no-confidence, making him the most colourful and controversial president South Africa has had since white-minority rule ended in 1994.

Source BBC

Liberia election: George Weah takes early lead

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George Weah is senator for Montserrado County in Liberia

Partial results from Liberia’s presidential election show former football star George Weah has taken an early lead.

Figures from the National Elections Commission (NEC) put Mr Weah ahead in 11 out of 15 counties, although most votes have yet to be counted.

His main rival, incumbent Vice-President Joseph Boakai, leads in one county and is second in most others.

A candidate needs more than 50% of the votes for outright victory.

If no-one achieves that, a second round will be held in November.

The election is to choose a successor to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – Africa’s first elected female president and a Nobel Peace laureate.

As the results came in, the manager of Arsenal Football Club, Arsene Wenger, was apparently duped by false reports that Mr Weah had won.
“I would like to congratulate one of my former players, who became president of Liberia,” Mr Wenger told reporters.

“It’s not often you have a former player who becomes president of a country. So well done, Georgie.

NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya hit out at false reports and said his officials were doing their best to get accurate official results out as quickly as possible.

“This commission has not declared any winner,” he stressed.

International election observers said they had not identified any major problems with Tuesday’s voting.

However, parties supporting three of the 20 candidates have alleged irregularities and said they would contest the result, Reuters reported.

Vice-President Joseph Boakai says the Liberian people want to see more development

Ms Sirleaf, 78, who is stepping down at the end of two terms, hailed the election as a success.

“We believe that all Liberians are ready for this process. I thank them for participating in this process,” she said.

Liberia, which was founded by freed US slaves in the 19th Century, has not had a smooth transfer of power in 73 years.

Ms Sirleaf took office in 2006, after her predecessor, Charles Taylor, was forced out of office by rebels in 2003, ending a long civil war.

Taylor is currently serving a 50-year prison sentence in the UK for war crimes related to the conflict in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Mr Weah, 51, has chosen Taylor’s ex-wife Jewel Howard Taylor as his running mate.

Source BBC

West Africa must brace for more deadly fevers – researchers warn

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West Africa is most at risk of fatal haemorrhagic fever epidemics, including Ebola, researchers said on Wednesday, calling for greater preparedness to save lives.

A study in The Lancet medical journal assessed the likelihood of four viruses – Ebola, Lassa, Marburg and Crimean-Congo – spreading on the continent, charting progress from a first human case through to a potential pandemic.

The world’s worst recorded Ebola outbreak ravaged Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone between 2013 and 2016, killing about 11,300 people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The viruses, which are often transmitted by rodents and bats, can cause fever, vomiting and bleeding, are often fatal.

By mapping high risk areas, African nations can better prepare for potential epidemics by improving surveillance of animals that transmit the diseases, rapidly detecting initial cases and investing in stronger health systems, the study said.

“This study’s framework provides an important tool for pinpointing where local surveillance and pre-emptive countermeasures are most needed,” said Simon Hay, a professor of global health at the University of Washington.

“As we have seen with Ebola, it is absolutely vital to prevent or stop epidemics at the earliest possible stages,” he said in a statement.

The study said Guéckédou in eastern Guinea, where the 2013 outbreak began, remains one of the most likely areas for Ebola to spiral into another epidemic.

Africa’s most recent Ebola outbreak was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in which four people died. The outbreak, which ended in July, was a record eighth in the country where the disease was first discovered in 1976.

The study said parts of Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia and South Sudan were also vulnerable to the four viruses, where conflict has damaged many health facilities.

The fevers can infect humans when they come into contact with diseased monkeys and apes, as well as through direct contact with infected patients.

The researchers said it was important to focus on preparedness in different parts of each country, not just at the national level, as some areas are more vulnerable.

“We can begin to work with local decision makers to evaluate their existing strategies and plan for… a future where these diseases and their deadly consequences can be prevented,” said Osman Sankoh, a study co-author who runs a network of health research centers based in Ghana.

Source Reuters

U.S court earns praise for backing prayer before opening of Congress

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U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Paul Ryan has praised the decision by a U.S court to allow a prayer to be said before opening each legislative day.

The U.S. District Court, in Baker v. Conroy, rejected a challenge to Congress’ ability to open with a prayer and ruling in favor of the House chaplain, Father Pat Conroy.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan appeared elated that an atheist challenge was dismissed by the court.

“Since the first session of the Continental Congress, our nation’s legislature has opened with a prayer to God. Today, that tradition was upheld and the freedom to exercise religion was vindicated.

“The court rightfully dismissed the claims of an atheist that he had the right to deliver a secular invocation in place of the opening prayer. Recently, especially following the return of Majority Whip Steve Scalise, this institution has been reminded about the power of prayer.

“I commend the District Court for its decision, and I am grateful that the People’s House can continue to begin its work each day as we have for centuries: taking a moment to pray to God.”

Paul Ryan also tweeted: “The House will continue to begin its work each day as we have for centuries: taking a moment to pray to God”

The House will continue to begin its work each day as we have for centuries: taking a moment to pray to God.

Stephen Scalise, United States House of Representatives Majority Whip and representative for Louisiana’s 1st congressional district retweeted Paul Ryan’s statement on the court’s decision acknowledging the power of God.

“Our rights come from God, so it’s only fitting that the House begins each day united in prayer. I’m glad this important tradition was upheld”

Source: | Ghana

Mr Rajoy accused the Catalan leader of creating confusion

Catalonia: Spain issues deadline to separatists

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Mr Rajoy accused the Catalan leader of creating confusion

Mr Rajoy accused the Catalan leader of creating confusion

Spain’s government has given Catalonia’s separatist leader five days to say whether or not he has declared independence, government sources say.

If Carles Puigdemont confirms he has, the sources say, he will be given a further three days to withdraw the declaration.

Failing that, they add, Madrid will invoke Article 155 of the constitution.

This allows central government to suspend a region’s autonomy and impose direct rule.

Earlier on Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said his government had asked the regional government to clarify whether or not it had declared independence.

Catalan leaders signed a declaration of independence on Tuesday but halted implementation to allow for talks.

Spain has been in turmoil since the separatist government held a disputed referendum in Catalonia on 1 October which was declared invalid by the country’s Constitutional Court.

Almost 90% of voters backed independence with a turnout of 43%, Catalan officials say. Anti-independence voters largely boycotted the ballot and there were several reports of irregularities.

National police were involved in violent scenes as they tried to stop the vote taking place.

Mr Rajoy accused Mr Puigdemont of having created “deliberate confusion” and said he wanted to restore “certainty”.

“This call – ahead of any of the measures that the government may adopt under Article 155 of our constitution – seeks to offer citizens the clarity and security that a question of such importance requires,” Mr Rajoy said.

“There is an urgent need to put an end to the situation that Catalonia is going through – to return it to safety, tranquillity and calm and to do that as quickly as possible.”

Mr Rajoy was speaking after holding an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning to discuss the government’s next steps.

A Catalan separatist flag hangs from a balcony as a man smokes in Barcelona, Spain October 11, 2017

Catalans are divided on the independence issue photo: REUTERS

Speaking later in parliament, Mr Rajoy said Spain was facing the most serious threat to its 40-year-old democracy.

He accused the separatists of hatching an “anti-democratic plan foisting their will on all the people of Catalonia”, and said the Spanish government had had no choice but to restore order.

“It falls to the Catalan leader to restore constitutional normality,” he told deputies, rejecting any suggestion of outside mediation in the dispute.

He added that he was willing to negotiate on the issue of regional autonomy and changes to the constitution – but this had to be within the framework of the law.

What happens next?

Katya Adler, BBC Europe editor, Madrid

Spain’s prime minister tried today to put the ball back in the Catalan court. He has asked the Catalan president to clarify if he is making a declaration of independence or not.

In the meantime, sources in the Senate (Spain’s upper house of parliament, where Prime Minister Rajoy’s Popular Party has a majority) say the request has been made to trigger Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, under which Mr Rajoy would be able to suspend Catalan autonomy – possibly immediately, or bit by bit.

Article 155 has never been used before, so we are in a kind of Brexit situation before Article 50 was triggered. The article legally exists but there are disagreements about how far-reaching it is, how it would/should work (and how quickly) in practice.

Reports in Spanish media have suggested that if the Spanish prime minister were to activate Article 155 in the absence of a response from the Catalan president, pro-independence parties in the Catalan parliament would then declare independence.

The leader of the opposition Socialists, Pedro Sanchez, told reporters that his party and the government had agreed to examine the possibility of using constitutional reform to end the crisis.

This would be focused on “how Catalonia remains in Spain, and not how it leaves”, he added.

Catalan leader seeks talks to secure independence

Catalan leader seeks talks to secure independence

Addressing the Catalan parliament in Barcelona on Tuesday evening, Mr Puigdemont said the autonomous region had won the right to be independent as a result of the vote.

He urged the international community to recognise Catalonia as an independent and sovereign state.

He said the “people’s will” was to break away from Madrid but he also said he wanted to “de-escalate” the tension around the issue.

With this in mind he announced that he was “suspending the effects of the declaration of independence” for more talks with the Madrid government, which he said were needed to reach a solution.

He and other Catalan leaders then signed the declaration of independence. It is not clear if the declaration has any legal status.

Crowds of independence supporters in Barcelona cheered Mr Puigdemont’s initial remarks but many expressed disappointment as he clarified his stance.

Catalonia is is one of Spain’s wealthiest regions but a stream of companies has announced plans to move head offices out of the province in response to the crisis.

The European Union has made clear that should Catalonia split from Spain, the region would cease to be part of the EU.

Source: BBC

Ghana, Benin must develop strong, strategic bonds – Akufo-Addo

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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says there is every reason for Ghana and Benin to develop strong, strategic bonds based, inter alia, on the common democratic values that promote human dignity and solidarity.

According to President Akufo-Addo, the two countries are recognised as beacons of democracy on the continent and have in the 1990s resorted to the use of the ballot, and not the gun, as the preferred means of electing their leaders.

President Akufo-Addo made this known on Wednesday, 11th October, 2017, when the President of Benin, His Excellency Patrice Athanase Talon, paid a day’s working visit to Ghana.

Speaking at a lunch held in honour of the Beninois President, President Akufo-Addo noted that “I believe it is a good omen that our peoples elected us into office around the same period, and it is, accordingly, incumbent on us to work together  to bring progress and prosperity to them.”

He continued, “We are both firm believers in the primacy of the private sector, and the role it must play in the development of our national economies. I am also happy that we share a vision of the industrial development of our economies, from ones dependent on the export of raw materials to value-added, industrial-based economies. This is the surest path to prosperity for our peoples.”

The visit of President Talon, in the view of President Akufo-Addo, comes at a time when the bilateral ties between the two countries continue to evolve within a framework of cordiality and mutual respect.

Despite the good relations that exist between the countries, President Akufo-Addo bemoaned the fact that only one meeting of the Permanent Joint Commission of Co-operation (PJCC), has been held, a meeting which was held in Accra.

“We need to need to reconvene another session of the PJCC, and I propose that we hold the next meeting in Cotonou as soon as possible. Not only will the PJCC serve as a platform for enriching commercial relations between our countries, it will also facilitate the implementation of regional instruments such as the Common External Tariff of ECOWAS.

Indeed, our shared interests, as members of the Co-Prosperity Alliance Zone (COPAZ), together with Togo and Nigeria, enjoins us to ensure that we forge an even closer partnership that will inure to the benefit of our citizens, even within the context of ECOWAS. We need to revitalize this Alliance,” President Akufo-Addo indicated.

He assured President Talon that Ghana will continue to co-operate with Benin within other multilateral frameworks, such as the Volta Basin Authority, to promote and safeguard the equitable sharing of common water resources of the Authority.

“We should endeavour to establish direct flights between Accra and Cotonou to facilitate the movement of persons and goods. We should further try to establish direct shipping lines, linking Accra to Cotonou, to facilitate trade between us. We need to push for the Sealink Shipping Project, an ECOWAS initiative, to help link our two countries,” he added.

With Ghana and Benin being important members of the ECOWAS community, President Akufo-Addo, once again, reiterated his commitment to strengthening the ECOWAS Community, and was confident that President Patrice Talon is too.

“With West Africa’s population set to reach some 500 million people in 20 years time, there are immense opportunities to bring prosperity to our region with hard work, enterprise and creativity.

“The time for West African integration is now. Ghana and Benin should be at the forefront of the process that will convert ECOWAS into a true regional market. A functioning, common regional market in ECOWAS has to be a very fundamental objective of all of our peoples and governments in the region,” President Akufo-Addo added.

Source: FHCB