Pres. Weah Urges Dialogue To Resolve ECOWAS Single Currency Deadlock

President George M. Weah

The President of Liberia, H.E. Dr. George Maneh Weah, has called on West African leaders to continue to work in the spirit of African solidarity and unity in order to resolve differences over a new single currency program amongst member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

   He said the only way out of the current deadlock is through “informed and cordial dialogue” between the francophone and anglophone blocs.

   The Liberian leader was speaking on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, during a virtual conference of heads of state of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ). The meeting was convened by WAMZ Sierra Leonean President, Julius Madaa Bio, to discuss differences that have emerged following a decision by countries that make up Francophone West Africa to go ahead with adopting a version of the ECO as their official currency, ahead of a planned date agreed upon by regional member states.

   President Weah believes negotiation and diplomacy can resolve the apparent misunderstanding. “We must open those channels now to de-escalate tension,” he said.

   President Weah recounted Liberia’s recent history when the country benefitted from the unity of ECOWAS at the height of the country’s civil war: “It was this solidarity that brought both English-speaking and French-speaking countries under the single banner of ECOWAS to Liberia to save lives,” President Weah said.

   The President told his colleagues that the story reflected the solidarity that the founders of ECOWAS left with succeeding generations to cherish and protect. “As we meet at this highest level,” he said, “we must use this legacy wisely to preserve and protect the unity of our sub-regional organization.”

   He suggested that a special committee be set up to discuss with President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire, who made the adoption pronouncement on behalf of the Francophone bloc.

   President Weah said the goal of the committee would be to prevent the francophone West African Monetary Union (WAEMU) from implementing its version of the ECO in order to win the organization some time to continue to resolve this matter and “get the ECO back on course”. He said the special committee should also seek an audience with French President, Emmanuel Macron.

   The Liberian leader’s suggestion for a special committee was in sync with Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, who emphasized the importance of regional integration. President Akufo-Addo said it was critical to the peoples of West Africa that the differences are settled as quickly as possible and the ECO made operational. He said the decision-making of Francophone nations should have been more inclusive.

   Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari urged the need for regional countries to “come together on this issue”. He highlighted the importance of the ECO and the progress that has been made, including the adoption of an exchange rate regime. He said it was a “matter of concern” that Francophone countries will go ahead with the adoption without consulting the rest of the union, but called for more engagement.

   Tuesday’s summit was attended by Anglophone West African countries, Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, and Sierra Leone joined by francophone Guinea.

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