ECOWAS SUMMIT TO DECIDE ON IMPROVEMENT TO REGIONAL FREE MOVEMENT PROTOCOL ECOWAS Heads of State and Government will during their two-day summit which
opens in Accra, Ghana on Thursday, 10th July 2014 take a decision on a
ministerial proposal to improve the implementation of the region’s flagship free
movement protocol through the introduction of a region-wide biometric identity
card system for citizens.
The proposal by the ministers of internal affairs of Member States seeks to
resolve one of the impediments to the seamless implementation of the 1978
regional Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and
Establishment which, even as is, makes ECOWAS the only Regional Economic
Community in Africa with a visa-free regime.
The card with biometric features and which will be easier to access than
national passports is expected to facilitate intra-community movement of
citizens without compromising security.
The 45th ordinary summit will also consider the proposal by the ministers for
the abolition of the residence permit requirements for community citizens as
part of the reform to the Protocol.
In addition, the mid-year summit will consider a report on the Community’s main
activities and projects over the first half of this year to be presented by the
President of the ECOWAS Commission Desire Kadré Ouédraogo as well as on the
deadly Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
The regional leaders will also be briefed on the situation in Mali, especially
the status of the mediation efforts being undertaken by Presidents Blaise
Compaoré and Goodluck Jonathan as well as the situation in Guinea-Bissau where
successful legislative and presidential elections were recently concluded paving
the way for the inauguration of new President Jose Mario Vaz.
The Presidents of three neighbouring States of Mauritania, Cameroon and Chad
have been invited to join their colleagues from the 15 ECOWAS countries at the
enlarged summit, which will be preceded by an ECOWAS Mediation and Security
Meeting on Tuesday 8th July involving Foreign and Defence Ministers. The
Ministers will discuss the report of a recent Security and Intelligence Chiefs
meeting held in Accra and also examine updates on the security situations in
parts of Nigeria and Northern Mali.