The Mini-Summit of Heads of State and Government of the countries of the Mano River Union comprising Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and CŰte díIvoire was held in Freetown on Wednesday 10 December 2008.
The Summit was attended by Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia and Chairperson of the Union; His Excellency Laurent Gbagbo, President of the Republic of CŰte díIvoire; His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, the host of the Summit; and His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Tidiane Souare, Prime Minister and Head of Government of the Republic of Guinea.
During the frank and friendly deliberations, the leaders deeply considered issues of common interest and concern relating to the progress made on the revitalization and operations of the Secretariat of the sub-regional organization, the recommendations on consolidation of peace, security and stability within the Mano River Union basin, the recommendations on how to address the food crisis in the region, as well as recommendations on the sustainable financing of the institution.
On all three issues, the leaders reaffirmed their strong will to combine their efforts in order to take the appropriate and necessary action to deal with current and emerging issues.
The Summit expressed delight over the progressive return to peace, security and stability in the Mano River basin and agreed, because of the positive developments, to direct their efforts towards promoting socio-economic development and integration. To this end, and after detailed consideration of the associated issues, the Summit decided to:
∑ Pursue the World Bank Project and authorize the MRU Chairperson to formally request the World Bank to promote the Project no later than 25th December 2008;
∑ Authorize the Chairperson to request that the World Bank provide an indicative value or cost of a Project Preparation Facility (PPF) to support the full formulation or design of the Project into appraisal by first week in January 2009;
∑ Demonstrate commitment to agriculture by heads of state achieving the 10% minimum under the Maputo Declaration of 2003;
∑ Empower the Chairperson to request that the World Bank employ the PPF facility during the second week of January 2009;
∑ Request each country to appoint a Focal Point and Country Team for the project before the end of the Agriculture Ministersí meeting;
∑ Accept the proposal for the Ministers of Agriculture to meet on a quarterly basis, with strong support from the MRU Secretariat and development partners, to continuously review progress and chart plans to accomplish their targets;
∑ Submit the recommendations on the Meeting on Self-Financing Mechanism for Sub-Regional Institutions-community levy, held in Freetown on 6th December, 2008 under the aegis of the Economic Commission for Africa to the forthcoming Summit of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Abuja;
∑ Approve the payment of arrears on condition that the Secretariat provides a clear outline of payment made to affected staff to date as well as the outstanding payments;
∑ Revise and submit the budget to Council Members within two weeks to enable them to take necessary action for its approval. It was further decided that the requirements for the pursuance of activities in the areas of agriculture, peace security, arms and drugs control, and the West African Power Pool for which some funding is assured from partners should be accommodated in the budget;
∑ Explore further the concept of a West African digital telecommunications initiative by which the use of optic fiber cables are emphasized.
∑ That the framework of the strategic plan should be accepted pending speedy completion of a comprehensive plan;
∑ Fully establish the Joint Border Security and Confidence-Building Units (JBSCBU) in all four MRU states as a matter of urgency. In this regard cooperation should be enhanced at the borders of member states for Defense, Immigration, Intelligence, Custom and other national security-related issues.
∑ Ensure that the Joint Technical Committee of the Mano River Union meet late January 2009 to discuss and review security related matters as they affect individual member states and the collective membership of the Union. Further at the same time, a review will be made of the Joint Security Committee to consider prospects for any relevant changes that may be required in view of present realities.
∑ Ensure that the Joint Security Committee of the Mano River Union meet late March 2009 to receive the results of the Joint Technical Committee report. .
∑ Heads of agencies of all sister states endeavor to share intelligence, analyze, investigate and review cases emanating from the borders of the various states, including other national security threats.
∑ Create a security unit within the Mano River Union Secretariat to which each member state would second an officer to the Secretariat headquarters.
∑ Strengthen military-to-military and para-military cooperation within the sub-region, including training programs of mutual benefit.
∑ Include the Ministers of Agriculture of member states in the Joint Security Committee, as an indication of the importance of food security as a national security issue that must be taken into account.
∑ Encourage the renaming of the Makona River Union to the Makona River Initiative in order to avoid confusion and properly reflect the purpose of the Makona Union Initiative.
∑ Positive experiences like the Guinea/Sierra Leone or Liberia/Sierra Leone collaboration, or Liberia/Cote DíIvoire in the area of security to be built upon by the MRU.
The Heads of State reiterated their profound gratitude to the international community for the support given to their efforts to ensure the consolidation of peace and stability in the MRU sub-region. In view of this, the leaders undertook to apply every effort to resolve the border discussion between Guinea and Sierra Leone.
The Heads of State expressed satisfaction with the convergence of their views on all of the issues raised above and delight with the climate of mutual understanding and cordiality that prevailed during their deliberations.
The Heads of State reiterated their strong will to take all required actions to speed up the integration process of the four countries.
Done in Freetown this 10th day of December in the year 2008
¬© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.