The Chairman of the Alliance for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (ASDA), Dr Prosper Ladislas Agbesi, has called on the leadership of the ECOWAS Sub-region and the international community to step into the political situation in Benin and bring order in the interest of the people.

To this end, he suggested the establishment of a government of National Unity so as to return the country to true democracy.

Dr. Agbesi – a leading opposition political figure and the presidential Candidate of the Alliance for New Congress (ANC) in the 2016 elections told journalists in an interview that, President Patrice Tolon, has failed the people and so must step aside for new elections to bring the country back its former glory.

He has given the incumbent president up to 90 days to resign because the people of Benin have demonstrated clearly that they do not want him as their president. He said security has failed in the country and businesses are suffering, coupled with the rising bad image of the country internationally, are good reasons for any president who truly cares for his people to take a decent bow for a more competent person to take over and help the people.

President Patrice Talon, dubbed "the cotton king", came to power in 2016 promising free-market reforms

                                                       President Patrice Talon, dubbed "the cotton king", came to power in 2016 promising free-market reforms

“He has been a president for only three years but the people have demonstrated clearly that they are not comfortable with him. By the constitution of Benin, he is not our president. He is creating fear in the country. Many people have gone on exile because they are in fear,” he stated.

Dr. Agbesi was at pain that a country which was once seen as a leading democracy in Africa could be reduced to an almost one party state, where opposition parties do not have a representation even in parliament. He said there are evidence that President Patrice Tolon has become very unpopular in the country, for which reason he is making moves to change the constitution through strange and unconventional means.

About a month to the recent parliamentary elections in Benin, the Electoral Commission of that country promulgated a new law that disqualified all other political parties excerpt the President’s party. This led to huge apathy with only a fraction of the people turning up to vote on the Election Day.

The electoral authorities ruled in March that only two parties - both loyal to President Patrice Talon - met the requirements to take part. New electoral laws meant a party had to pay about $424,000 (£328,000) to field a list for the 83-seat parliament.

“So we are saying that you can’t have a country that excludes the opposition in decision making. Less than 10 percent of the population voted in the parliamentary elections and so it is not a representation of the people,” he stated.

Dr Ladislas Prosper Agbesi, Executive Chairman, Pan African Business Forum

                                                   Dr Ladislas Prosper Agbesi, Executive Chairman, Pan African Business Forum

According to Dr Agbesi, for causing the abuse of the democratic rights of the people of Benin, President Tolon must resign from office immediately. He called on the ECOWAS not to recognise him as the President of Benin. He also urged the formation of a government of unity which would include all leading political figures who have gone on exile because of intimidation from President Tolon.

“I want ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations to take serious sanctions against this man. I am giving him 90 days to resign. I want the EU to take serious actions against him because the people are not happy with him,” Dr. Agbesi stated.

Among others, Dr Agbesi accused President Tolon of being in an alliance with terrorists groups in the sub-region, which according to him is one of the reasons he does not want to leave the country.

“He wants to bring the terrorists to come for our oil. If we don’t take the country away from him, Benin will soon become a centre of terrorists. The international community must do something quickly to take the country away from him. It is very important for the UN and ECOWAS to do something quickly before it becomes worse. “We don’t want our country to become a base for terrorists and that is what this man wants to do. That is why we have to take the country from him now,” he stated.

Benin has witnessed post-election violence in recent times with a group of armed soldiers in an uneasy standoff with unarmed civilians on the streets of the capital – Cotonou. Security forces have been put on high alert following days of post-election violence.

This was after the parliamentary election that took place in April this year but without any of the opposition parties contesting. Military men allegedly scattered demonstrations when the members of the opposition called for the annulment of the parliamentary election.

 

Credit: ghananewsonline.com.gh

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday lamented that despite successes recorded by the Economic Community of West African State, ECOWAS, the body is still faced difficulties in the economic, governance, peace, security and humanitarian fields.
 
Buhari, who is the current Chairman of ECOWAS spoke while declaring open the 54th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS in Abuja, Nigeria.
 
According to him, the regional organisation was still confronted by several challenges that must be tackled, observing that the lofty ideals of ECOWAS, including the promotion of cooperation and integration, leading to the establishment of an Economic and Monetary Union in West Africa as well as the creation of a borderless peaceful, prosperous and cohesive region, would be unattainable without peace and security.
 
He said this was why he decided to make the issue of peace and security the major focus of his chairmanship.
 
Buhari noted that his efforts had started yielding dividends as the organisation had been able to douse tension and restore confidence in some potentially disruptive situations, particularly in Guinea Bissau, Togo and Mali.
On the forthcoming national elections in Nigeria and Senegal in 2019, the Nigerian leader said he had already pledged to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
 
“In the same vein, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and other political stakeholders, have expressed their unwavering commitment to the conduct of peaceful elections devoid of violence, rancour and acrimony, in the higher interest of the nation,’’ he added.
 
But he noted with concern that terrorism and violent extremism had continued to threaten peace and security in the sub-region.
 
The president said: “This threat calls for collective action on our part, if we are to effectively and definitively eliminate it.
“As we work on new strategies to combat and eradicate this menace, we require the support of our partners to ensure the achievement of our objectives.’’
 
Buhari, however, commended leaders of ECOWAS for their efforts in promoting peace, stability and development in the sub-region.
 
The president particularly paid special tribute to President Nana Akuffo-Addo of Ghana, President Alpha Conde of Republic of Guinea and ECOWAS facilitators in the resolution of the Togolese political crisis, for their tireless endeavours towards a peaceful settlement.
 
“I’m also glad for the significant progress made through our collective efforts towards the resolution of the political and institutional crisis in Guinea Bissau.
 
“Within the framework of our regional solidarity, we have assisted the governments of Togo and Mali in tackling political and security problems while also addressing food challenges in parts of the sub-region.
 
“We have also extended electoral support and assistance to several countries and acted pro-actively to neutralise some potential conflicts through preventive diplomacy before they exploded. In this connection, we welcome the successful elections held in Sierra Leone and Mali in 2018,’’ he said.
 
The Nigerian leader further stated that the organisation’s determination to create a safe and stable sub-region must be predicated on a strong and capable ECOWAS, adding that no institution can function effectively without adequate funding.
 
“This would require that all hands are on deck and that all Member States ensure the payment of the Statutory Community Levy as and as when due.
“By so doing, we will empower and enable the Commission to implement the Integration Agenda, as we march towards the year 2020, and actualise our vision of building an ECOWAS of Peoples and not of States,’’ he said.
 
He also stressed the need for member states to join forces to eliminate those factors that were militating against a secure, conducive and prosperous environment for the benefit of the people in the sub-region.
 
The president noted that such actions would enable them (Member States) address the continuing fragility of the sub-region’s economies linked closely to commodity prices, nascent democracies, negative effects of climate change on farming systems and the globalisation of crime and terrorism.
 
“These realities remind us of the need for even stronger intra-ECOWAS solidarity in order to address emerging challenges.
 
“This is indeed the very sense of our Union. To that end, important decisions are taken in the course of our meetings, with the goal of impacting transforming positively on the lives of our citizens,’’ he said.
 
Buhari disclosed that during today’s Ordinary Session, the regional leaders would be expected to take several decisions on a number of issues.
 
He said: “As is our custom, our Session would consider these matters from the reports on today’s agenda as follows: the 2018 Annual Report of ECOWAS ; the Report of the 81st Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers and the Report of the 41st Ordinary Session of the Mediation and Security Council.’’
 
Other matters to be deliberated upon, he said, included the Reports on the Political and Security Situation of the Region, and the Report on the Process for the Establishment of the ECOWAS Single Currency.
 
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mohamed Ibn-Chambas, noted that in the past months the sub-region had been witnessing the successful conduct of elections, contributing to the progress the sub-region was making in the consolidation of democracy.
 
Ibn-Chambas, who spoke in both English and French languages, however, stressed the need for more efforts to be made to address contentious issues related to conduct of elections to prevent and mitigate election-related violence, human rights abuses and promote respect for the rule of law.
 
“Upcoming elections in the sub region will present opportunities for further consolidating democracy.
 
“UNOWAS is coordinating efforts with the ECOWAS Commission to ensure appropriate support to these countries in their efforts to organise free, credible and peaceful elections,’’ he said.
 
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) observed that Morocco is not on the agenda of the 54th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS of Heads of State and Government.
 
Morocco had made its request to be a member of ECOWAS while Tunisia requested to be an observer country.
NAN also reports that former Nigerian military Head of State, retired Gen. Yakubu Gowon, was among the dignitaries attending the summit.
 
 
Source: PmNews
Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari has been elected as the new Chairman of the ‏Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
 
Buhari was elected at the just concluded ECOWAS Summit in Lome, Togo on Tuesday.
 
“The announcement was made shortly after a closed session of Heads of State of the Commission,” Bashir Ahmad, Personal Assistant to Buhari on New Media and Engagement said in a tweet on Tuesday.
 
According to him, “President Muhammadu Buhari has been elected the new Chairman of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at the just concluded ECOWAS Summit in Lome, Togo.
 
“The announcement was made shortly after a closed session of Heads of State of the Commission.”
 

The Abidjan protocol on free roaming is now active across Benin after the country became the eighth nation in West Africa to enforce the regional agreement which facilitates a reduction in the cost of communication for consumers.

Flavien Bacahbi, President of Beninese Communication regulator Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques et de la poste (Arcep) confirmed the development and said it delivered on the plan first announced almost two months ago. An excerpt from official documents reads: “Since Wednesday the 1st of March 2018, the project “Free Roaming” of West Africa is back in its active phase in Benin.

Following the signing on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 in Dakar, Senegal, of the Act of Accession to the Memorandum of Understanding on the Basic Principles for the Implementation of Free Roaming in West Africa the regulatory authority made implementation of this agreement effective by taking decision No. 2018-11 setting the tariffs for users of electronic communications services while roaming in Benin under the memorandum of understanding on free roaming.”

Bachabi says the new fixed rates for roaming in Benin will cost 130 FCFA TTC for voice calls per minute and 50 FCFA TTC for each SMS on local roaming (inside Benin), while a charge of 300 FCFA TTC will apply for international voice calls per minute and 90 FCFA TTC for every international SMS to other countries that are signatories to the Abidjan protocol.

Other countries that have already implemented the free roaming agreement in West Africa include Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinée Conakry, Mali, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Operators in Benin were given thirty days to conduct connectivity tests and implement measures for the roll out of the new tariffs, according to Arcep. The regulator further instructed operators to establish roaming agreements with at least one other operator in each of the countries covered by the Abidjan protocol.

Ministers in charge of Telecommunications and ICT across the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) approved the free regional roaming regulation for member countries in October last year.

Dr Isaias Barreto da Rosa, ECOWAS Commissioner for Telecoms and ICT emphasised that free roaming would impact the lives on people living in member countries positively when the decision was first communicated.

“This decision is historic and something expected to touch the lives of ordinary ECOWAS citizens and bring tremendous contributions to our regional integration process as we strive to establish a single digital market in the sub-region and as we move from and ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of people.”

Other African regional blocs taking steps to abolish call roaming charges include COMESA following an agreement in principle four months ago and SADC through its ‘roam like at home’ initiative which is yet to be finalised.

ECOWAS Ministers in charge of Telecommunications and ICT have approved the free regional roaming regulation for ECOWAS Member countries.

The endorsement of the regional roaming regulation came during the 15th Meeting of the concerned Ministers which held on the 6th of October, in Praia Cabo Verde.

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Telecoms and ICT, Dr Isaias Barreto da Rosa described the decision as historic and something expected to “touch the lives of ordinary ECOWAS citizens and bring tremendous contributions to our regional integration process as we strive to establish a single digital market in the sub-region and as we move from and ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of people”.

The approved free regional roaming regulation includes a clear implementation roadmap which will start at the beginning of 2018.

Also during the ministerial meeting, a number of other important decisions were also made to foster the development of the ICT sector in West Africa. This includes a revised supplementary act on Universal Access and Service and its funding for digital access.

In addition to these is a list of laboratories selected for the accreditation of DTT decoders in the region to ensure compliance with the ECOWAS adopted standards; Regional Spectrum Coordination Committee, etc.

Another important subject discussed during this meeting was the promotion of cyber security in West Africa and the ECOWAS cyber security agenda. This initiative aims at assisting ECOWAS Member States to develop their national cyber security strategies, to establish national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) as well as to improve cyber legislation and train judges prosecutors, law enforcement agents, etc.

Experts from ECOWAS member states had met in Praia from 2nd to 5th October 2017 preparatory to the ministerial meeting.

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