Thursday, May 03, 2007

President Kabbah Returns From Conakry

His Excellency Alhaji Dr Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and entourage returned from Conakry on Tuesday 1st of May, at the end of a one-day summit of the Mano River Union, hosted by His Excellency General Lansana Conte, President of the Republic of Guinea and attended by Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia and His Excellency Laureant Gbagbo, President of La Cote d'Ivoire. The Prime Minister of Guinea, Monsieur Lansana Kouyate also participated fully in the deliberations. The Summit considered among other things, the following issues: 1 The reactivation of the Mano River Union; 2 The readmission of La Cote d'Ivoire to the Mano River Union; 3 Security within the Mano River Union sub-region; and 4 The status of Yenga.

On the reactivation of the Mano River Union, the Heads of State discussed the reorganisation of the Mano River Union Secretariat and the full resumption of its activities including budgetary support. All Member States pledged their continued commitment and financial support to the organization and discussed the modalities of seeking additional support from their donor partners to enhance the work of the organisation. The Guinean President made a cheque of $210,000 United States dollars as part of his country's contribution to the reactivation of the organisation. Sierra Leone and Liberia promised to contribute in due course their own financial support. The issue of readmission of La Cote d'Ivoire to the Mano River Union was also discussed. La Cote d'Ivoire was a founder member of the original West African Free Trade Area (WAFTA) which was the precursor to the Mano River Union. The current President of La Cote d'Ivoire expressed a strong desire for his country to rejoin the Mano River Union and promised to take appropriate steps to this effect shortly.

The other Member States welcomed the statement of the Ivorian President. The Heads of State next considered security in the Mano River Union and expressed concern over the lack of an early warning mechanism for alerting security forces in the Member States, especially when one considers that dissidents have always planned operations in one country for the destabilisation of the other countries in the sub-region. They agreed that top security officials of the Member States could meet and develop a systematic plan for addressing the problem. On the question of Yenga, the Heads of State considered a report submitted by the Technical Committee comprising the officials and civil society organisations of the Mano River Union Member States. The report stated categorically that Yenga belongs to Sierra Leone and the Heads of State during their consultation reconfirmed that position.

However, it was noted that the documentation consulted during their deliberations revealed certain inconsistencies with relation to a certain piece of land 200 meters from the West Bank of the Moa/Makona river which is currently occupied by Guinean troops. These inconsistencies arose out of the review of several documents signed in the past by British and French colonial officials, President Siaka Stevens of Sierra Leone and President Sekou Toure of Guinea, Vice President S.I. Koroma of Sierra Leone and Prime Minister Lansana Beavogue of Guinea, among others. On this note, the current Guinean Prime Minister, Monsieur Lansana Kouyate therefore offered to visit the site referred to above at the shortest possible time so as to verify the information contained in the document. Both the President of the Republic of Liberia and the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone offered that their Vice Presidents will join the Prime Minister of Guinea to visit the site referred to above.

Link to Statehouse-sl.com